Five Secrets for the Best Cauliflower Soup

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This Creamy Cauliflower Soup is unbelievably creamy yet dairy-free and vegan, thanks to cashews and cannellini beans. It's easy and quick to make, freezes great, and is satisfying enough for a main meal. The perfect healthy weeknight dinner!
Prep 15 mins
Cook 30 mins
Total 45 mins
5 from 203 votes

There are so many good reasons to make this Creamy Cauliflower Soup on repeat during the winter months. 

  • Healthy. This soup is dairy-free and features nutritional powerhouses like cauliflower (obvi), white beans, and cashews.
  • Delicious. Thanks to an unbelievably creamy texture and unique flavor boosters, this is definitely the best tasting cauliflower soup you’ve ever had.
  • Easy. Even my partner Max, who can’t cook at all, makes this soup.
  • Freezer-Friendly. This recipe makes a lot of soup, which is great because it freezes and reheats beautifully.
  • Instant Pot Friendly. This soup is even easier in the instant pot (though an instant pot is not required to make it).

In this post, I share five secrets you need to know to make amazing cauliflower soup at home, plus step-by-step instructions and video guidance. And, of course, the recipe for both stove-top and instant pot versions. 

In this post:
1. Five Secrets You Need to Know
2. Step-by-step instructions
3. Tips for making this recipe
4. Frequently Asked Questions
5. Recipe Card

bowl of creamy cauliflower white bean soup with spoon and piece of bread

5 Secrets for the Best Cauliflower Soup

Just like my Creamy White Bean and Kale Soup and my Thai Butternut Squash Curry, this cauliflower soup is both wholesome and delicious. Here are the five secrets you need for the best cauliflower soup.

Secret #1: Infuse flavor with a bouquet garni

My favorite way to saturate soups with lots of flavor is with a bouquet garni. It’s a French term that means “a bundle of herbs”. Herbs commonly used in a bouquet garni include sage, rosemary, thyme, oregano, parsley, and bay leaves. 

The herbs are tied together in a bundle using kitchen twine and submerged into the soup. While the soup simmers, the aromas from the fresh herbs infuse the entire soup with woodsy, herbaceous notes and a depth of flavor that dried herbs cannot bring.  

It takes 1 minute to assemble, and it’s quicker than chopping the fresh herbs and sauteing them. And when the soup is done, you can easily grab the bundle out of the soup, instead of endlessly searching for loose herb sprigs. 

Takeaway: To elevate the flavors, tie fresh rosemary, thyme, and a bay leaf together in a bundle (bouquet garni) and tuck it into this soup. You can also use this technique with stews, braises, and pots of beans or lentils. 

bouquet garni on cutting board

Secret #2: Make it extra creamy (and satiating) with cashews and beans

If you tasted this soup blindfolded, you’d have no idea it’s dairy-free because it’s crazy creamy (check out the video to see what I really mean!).

First, raw cashews. They’re often the secret to extremely creamy vegan sauces, cheeses, and desserts. So why not use them in a soup? Second, adding two cans of cannellini beans (the king of creamy beans) makes this soup even creamier.

Finally, when you blend everything together, the texture of the cauliflower soup becomes luscious and unbelievably creamy. 

Not only do cashews and cannellini beans make this soup ultra velvety, they also make it very satiating. While “cauliflower soup” might not sound like a complete meal, this soup is a full meal since it’s rich in protein, fiber, and healthy fats. Of course, I like to round out this meal with a crusty hunk of bread :) 

Takeaway: Raw cashews and white beans make this soup just as creamy (if not creamier) than any dairy-based soup and also make it a satisfying complete meal. 

Secret #3: Amp up the flavor with your finishing touches

This cauliflower soup is definitely good on its own, but it becomes great when topped with three final ingredients.

  • Lemon zest brings a bright citrus zing, a nice complement to the cozy, warming flavors in this soup.
  • Red pepper flakes dial this soup up a notch with a kick. For a subtler heat, use Aleppo pepper.
  • Extra virgin olive oil lends a rich body and mouthfeel, making this soup feel almost as luxurious as a Turkish bathrobe.

Takeaway: To take this soup to to another level, finish each bowl with some lemon zest, chili flakes, and a good-quality extra virgin olive oil. 

Secret #4: You don’t need to roast the cauliflower 

I tried making this soup with roasted cauliflower and without (the method in this recipe). I found that the flavor difference was negligible and certainly not worth the extra time and cleanup.

And that makes total sense, since there’s so much other flavor going on this soup: browned onions provide a flavorful, subtly sweet backbone; fresh garlic, well, is garlicky; the bouquet garni adds herby depth of flavor, the nutritional yeast lends a background cheesy note, and the finishing touches are, well, fabulous. 

Takeaway: No need to spend time roasting cauliflower because this soup uses other techniques to pack in lots of flavor. 

Secret #5: Make it even easier and quicker using the Instant Pot

While the stovetop version of this soup is quick and easy, the Instant Pot method is even quicker and easier: 25 minutes total and only 5 minutes of active prep time. This is the Instant Pot model I recommend for beginners) (affiliate link).

This is a dump-and-go Instant Pot recipe, so there is zero hands-on cooking and just 5 minutes of prep. While most dump-and-go recipes are rather bland because there’s no opportunity to build up layers of flavor, this soup (as already mentioned) has lots of delicious flavor built into it. 

Takeaway: If you have an Instant Pot and need a back pocket weeknight dinner, make the Instant Pot version!

bowls of creamy vegan instant pot cauliflower soup with bread

Step-by-Step Instructions

First, gather your ingredients.

cauliflower soup ingredients on a table

Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat. Saute the onions with a pinch of salt until nicely golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently.

Pour in some vegetable broth to deglaze the pot, scraping up the browned bits. Add the rest of the broth and cauliflower florets. 

Add the cashews and cannellini beans, along with the nutritional yeast, salt, and pepper. Tuck the bouquet garni into the soup to submerge. 

Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to maintain a rapid simmer for 15 minutes, until cauliflower is tender and soft. 

Remove the bouquet garni and transfer the soup to a stand blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Or, use an immersion blender in the soup pot.

Finish the soup with lemon zest, red pepper flakes or Aleppo pepper, and extra virgin olive oil.

hands about to pick up a spoon of creamy soup

Tips for making this recipe

Don’t skip the nutritional yeast (affiliate link). That’s where a lot of savory depth of flavor comes from!

For the finishing ingredients, use the best extra virgin olive oil you have. I use my best-quality extra virgin olive oil only for finishing and raw applications, and this is one of those cases where it makes a difference! 

If you want a silky smooth texture, transfer the soup to a stand blender. If you don’t mind a slightly more rustic version, an immersion blender works fine.

Freeze the soup in single-serve portions. Since this soup makes a large quantity, I usually freeze a couple single-serve portions using my Souper Cubes (affiliate link). Then you can defrost an individual block of soup on the stove in less than 10 minutes. No-fuss, healthy dinner even on the busiest of weeknights!

three bowls of creamy cauliflower soup with bread

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I substitute the cashews? 

I haven’t tried it in this particular recipe, but I’ve made similar recipes using Russet potatoes instead of cashews with fairly good results. Of course, the soup won’t be as satiating because potatoes are almost entirely starch. In contrast, cashews are packed with healthy fats and protein.

Can I substitute different herbs and spices in this soup?

I use thyme and rosemary in this soup because I love how they pair with cauliflower, but you can also substitute with fresh sage or oregano.

If you don’t want a spicy kick at the end, I love using Aleppo pepper in place of red pepper flakes. It’s a beautiful coarsely ground red pepper commonly used in Middle Eastern cuisine as a condiment and originally hails from Aleppo, Syria. It’s very mild in spice and has a subtle fruity yet earthy tang.

What can I use if I don’t have cannellini beans?

A smaller white bean, such as navy beans or Great Northern Beans, would work fine. The soup might be a bit less creamy but not the difference will be minor.

Can I freeze this cauliflower soup?

Yes! This soup freezes quite well. I like to freeze in single-serve portions. That way, you can defrost it on the stove and cook it through quickly. No need to defrost in the fridge overnight.

Can I add more vegetables to this soup?

We love stirring in some kale at the end to get in those greens! Simply return the blended soup back to the pot, add 2 large handfuls of finely chopped kale (ribs removed), and simmer until the kale is wilted, about 4 to 5 minutes.kale stirred into creamy cauliflower soup in dutch oven

What should I serve with this soup?

Our favorite way to eat this soup is with a hunk of good bread, like a sesame loaf or sourdough. A green salad with a citrus vinaigrette would also be nice. For a more substantial salad to pair with, try this Roasted Butternut Squash and Kale Salad, Roasted Beet and Fennel Salad, or this Kale and Brussels Sprouts Winter Salad

For a crunchy bite, top this soup with some crunchy roasted chickpeas or even the more traditional croutons. 

Also, if you have Vegan Pesto on hand, a spoon stirred into this soup would be delightful.

dipping bread into creamy soup

Watch: How to make Cauliflower Soup

If I could only eat one soup all winter long...
If I could only eat one soup all winter long…

More creamy vegan soup recipes to try!  

Can’t get enough of creamy soups?

I hope you give this easy and delicious Creamy Cauliflower Soup recipe a try! If you do, please leave a rating and review below with your feedback and tag me on Instagram with your remakes :)

cauliflower soup with a spoon

Creamy Cauliflower Soup

5 from 203 votes
This Creamy Cauliflower Soup is unbelievably creamy yet dairy-free and vegan, thanks to cashews and cannellini beans. It's easy and quick to make, freezes great, and is satisfying enough for a main meal. The perfect healthy weeknight dinner!
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 30 mins
Total Time: 45 mins
Course: Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine: American
Serving size: 4

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 medium-large cauliflower cut into large florets (~750g of florets)
  • 1 cup (140g) raw cashews
  • 8 to 12 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1 large fresh rosemary sprig
  • 2 (15-ounce/425g) cans of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 cups (960 mL) low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 cup (240 mL) water (or more vegetable broth)
  • 5 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • Freshly cracked black pepper to taste

For Finishing

  • Lemon zest
  • Crushed red pepper flakes (or Aleppo pepper)
  • Good-quality extra virgin olive oil
  • Bread for serving (optional)

Instructions

  • Pour boiling water over the cashews to cover and let rest for 15 minutes. Drain and rinse before using. Meanwhile, prep all the other ingredients (cut cauliflower, herbs, garlic).
  • Make the bouquet garni. Use kitchen twine to tie up the thyme sprigs, rosemary sprigs, and bay leaf.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat. Once hot, add the onions with a pinch of salt and cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown. If they start to get brown too quickly, add a splash of water. Add the garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Pour in some of the vegetable broth and deglaze the pot, stirring up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot. Add the remaining broth, water, soaked and drained cashews, cauliflower florets, cannellini beans, nutritional yeast, kosher salt, and black pepper to taste. Stir to combine. Gently tuck the bouquet garni into the broth. It’s okay if the cauliflower isn’t totally submerged by the liquid – they’ll cook down.
  • Bring the soup to a boil. Then reduce the heat to maintain a rapid simmer and cook for 15 minutes, or until the cauliflower is tender and soft.
  • Once the soup is done cooking, remove the bouquet garni and transfer the soup to a stand blender (you will need to do this in two batches). Remove the center cap of the blender and cover it with a dish towel to allow the steam to escape. Blend until smooth, thick, and creamy.
    Note: You can also use an immersion blender, but the texture won’t be as smooth.
  • Taste for salt and pepper and adjust accordingly (I usually add a bit more salt at this stage). Transfer the soup to bowls, and before serving, zest some lemon on top, add a scattering of chili flakes, and drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil. Serve with bread.

Calories: 526kcal | Carbohydrates: 64g | Protein: 31g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 12g | Sodium: 899mg | Potassium: 1876mg | Fiber: 19g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 112IU | Vitamin C: 76mg | Calcium: 224mg | Iron: 10mg

Instant Pot Cauliflower Soup

5 from 192 votes
This Instant Pot Cauliflower Soup is thickened naturally with white beans and cashews, so it's luscious and creamy but dairy-free. It's a quick and easy dump-and-go Instant Pot recipe that's made with just 10ish ingredients, so it's perfect for busy weeknight dinners.
Prep Time: 8 mins
Cook Time: 17 mins
Total Time: 25 mins
Course: Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine: American
Diet Vegan
Serving size: 4 to 6

Ingredients

  • 4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 large head cauliflower (24-28 ounces, or ~750g), cut into large florets
  • 1 cup (140g) raw cashews
  • 2 (15-ounce/425g) cans of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 4 cups (960 mL) low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 8 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1 large fresh rosemary sprig
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 ¾ teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • Freshly cracked black pepper to taste

For Finishing

  • Lemon zest
  • Crushed red pepper flakes (or Aleppo pepper)
  • Good-quality extra virgin olive oil
  • Bread for serving (optional)

Instructions

  • To the Instant Pot inner pot, add the garlic, cauliflower florets, cashews, cannellini beans, vegetable broth, thyme, rosemary, bay leaf, nutritional yeast, 1 ¾ teaspoons kosher salt, and black pepper to taste. Stir to combine.
  • Secure the Instant Pot lid and set the Pressure Release to Sealing. Select the Pressure Cook setting and set to high pressure for 7 minutes.
  • Once the 7-minute timer has completed and beeps, perform a Quick Pressure Release by switching the Pressure Release knob from Sealing to Venting.
  • Open the pot and remove any whole herb sprigs. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup until thick and creamy, taking care to blend all the cashews.
    Alternatively, if you want a super silky texture, transfer the soup to a stand blender and blend until creamy and smooth (replace the center cap from the blender lid and cover with a dish towel to allow steam to escape).
  • Taste for salt and pepper and adjust accordingly (I usually add a bit more salt at this stage).
  • Transfer the soup to bowls, and before serving, zest some lemon on top, add a scattering of red pepper flakes, and drizzle with a bit of extra virgin olive oil. Serve with bread, if desired.

Notes

Note: the stovetop version includes instructions to saute 1 finely chopped yellow. To add even more flavor, you can do the same in this Instant Pot recipe, but it’s not required.
To do so, turn on the Sauté setting of the Instant Pot (normal heat). Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil, and once hot, add the finely chopped onion with a pinch of salt. Sauté the onions, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 7 to 10 minutes. 

Calories: 294kcal | Carbohydrates: 41g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Sodium: 555mg | Potassium: 703mg | Fiber: 13g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 74IU | Vitamin C: 70mg | Calcium: 135mg | Iron: 6mg

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277 comments on Five Secrets for the Best Cauliflower Soup

  1. Shaheen

    5 stars
    My family loves this so much its now our official cauliflower soup recipe, thank you Nisha! I’ve been making my mom’s recipe for ages and this just takes it to a whole new level of comfort and deliciousness. My 1 year old absolutely loves it too and I love that it can be a complete meal with the beans.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for the lovely feedback, Shaheen! Great to hear everyone’s a fan of the soup!

  2. Sheila

    5 stars
    My go to cauliflower soup, super easy, hearty and SO delicious!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Sheila, So glad to hear you loved this recipe!

  3. Charlene Ryan

    5 stars
    First soup of FALL and I love it as much as I did last winter! So easy and so delicious!!! Thank you

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Charlene, So glad to hear you loved this recipe!

  4. Dharmanshu Lightwala

    I loved it!! amazing recipes Nisha! A quick question. How do you freeze the soup?

    Thank you tonsss

    Dharma

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Dharmanshu, we are thrilled you did! Yes! We like to freeze in single-serve portions. That way, you can defrost it on the stove and cook it through quickly. No need to defrost in the fridge overnight. Cheers!

  5. Amy

    5 stars
    Who would’ve thought cauliflower would be in my favorite soup ever?

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      So glad you love it, Amy!

  6. Monica Daniel

    5 stars
    I have made this soooo many times!!! It is by far one of the tastiest soups ever!!!! Thank you!!!!!!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Monica, So glad to hear you love this recipe!

  7. Tam Lee

    5 stars
    Can the bouquet garni be used in the instant pot or is it better to use loose herbs without the string in the IP? This is my 2nd time making it, its very good! Thank you

    1. Nisha

      Hi Tam,

      First, so sorry for the late reply! Second, yes, you can use the bouquet garni in the instant pot. The string will hold the herbs together and it’ll be easy to fish it right out after releasing the pressure. I’m glad you enjoy the soup!

  8. Jasmine

    I want to make this but I don’t have any cannellini beans. Would chickpeas work in this recipe?

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Jasmine, yes they should work just fine!

  9. Ann Hawks

    Made this soup for dinner tonight. What a delicious, smooth, velvety experience! Adding this to my rotation for sure! Thanks, Nisha! LOVED IT!💕

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      That’s so great to hear, Ann! Next time, would you mind leaving a rating alongside your review? Star ratings are big help to readers who are thinking of making the recipe. Thanks!

  10. Green Tara

    5 stars
    I have been making this soup for years! Except I use tahini and no oil for a nut free and oil free version. I love your bouquet garni suggestions, great advice! I kinda like the roasted cauli and toasted sesame for winter and the lemony hummus for spring. Wild crafted cress for summer!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for sharing!

  11. Tavia Neal

    Is there a nut free version or substitute for cashews?

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      We haven’t tried it in this particular recipe, but we’ve made similar recipes using Russet potatoes instead of cashews with fairly good results. Of course, the soup won’t be as satiating because potatoes are almost entirely starch. Enjoy, Tavia!

  12. Shirley

    5 stars
    I made this in the instant pot, so easy and so good! Creamy, delicious and filling. I will definitely be making this again.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Awesome, Shirley. Thanks for your comment and for taking the time to review!

  13. Laura

    5 stars
    It is the second time that I make this gorgeous soup. It’s incredible. Rquisimo. Gracias
    Thank you so much your recipe and I see you love in each dish.
    Laura

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for the lovely feedback, Laura!

  14. Ash

    5 stars
    Literally the best soup i’ve ever had!!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for the lovely feedback, Ash!

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