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 208 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 208 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 197 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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288 comments on Five Secrets for the Best Cauliflower Soup

  1. Maddalena

    this is SO good. everything was easy to prep, all in one pot, recipe timings were accurate (unlike many other recipes on the internet!!), and the flavour is so unique, even if you don’t like cauliflower this recipe is a must try.

    a perfect warm, cozy, creamy hug in a bowl. will DEFINITELY make again, thank you!!!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Maddalena, we’re thrilled to hear you enjoyed this recipe! 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!

  2. Lily

    Could I use sunflower seeds instead of cashews? Thanks in advance.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi there Lily, sorry for the late response. Yes, we think soaked sunflower seeds could work! Please let us know how it goes if you do end up trying it!

  3. Shari

    I would like to make this recipe but I don’t have access to fresh rosemary and thyme where I live. What is the ideal substitute amounts if using dried herbs? Thank you!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Shari, The general rule for swapping dried for fresh herbs is to use 1/3 of the amount called for in the recipe. If a recipe calls for 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, then add 1 teaspoon dried rosemary. Enjoy!

      1. Shari

        Hi thanks! Yes I understand the general rule for substituting dried herbs for fresh herbs. But you are not actually leaving the fresh herbs in the soup. You are just infusing it and then removing them. So I figured if I substituted the full dried equivalent amounts that the herb flavors might be too strong.

        1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

          Oh, yes! I just read online you can make a bouquet garni from dried herbs by combining dried herbs double layer of cheesecloth. Pinch the ends together to form a little pouch, and tie the top tightly with kitchen twine! Hopefully you have some cheesecloth and kitchen twine lying around somewhere :)

          1. Shari

            Thanks for your suggestion to put dried herbs in cheesecloth. I can’t find cheesecloth but I think I found something else that will work! :) I’m sorry to come across as a stupid-head, but in your recipe you give amounts of 8 springs of thyme and 1 sprig of rosemary. How am I supposed to convert to 1/3 dried herbs if I have no idea how much fresh herbs are on those sprigs? Has anyone who didn’t have fresh herbs on hand ever made this with dried herbs that can tell me what the proper amount of dried herbs is to use? If this recipe called for a specific measurable amount of fresh herbs then I could easily figure it out. I definitely don’t want to overdo it with thyme and rosemary as they are strong flavored herbs. Maybe this recipe just isn’t realistic for me to make.

          2. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

            Hi Shari, we just googled it and it seems 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary is equal to one sprig fresh and 2/3 teaspoons dried thyme is equal to 8 sprigs. Enjoy the recipe!

  4. Dawn M

    5 stars
    I love this soup so much! Made it tonight with frozen cauliflower to see how it would go and tastes just as good.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Dawn, So glad to hear you loved this recipe!

  5. Dee

    Can’t get nutritional information.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Dee, we are in the middle of the process of adding nutrition info! It should show up on this recipe in the next couple of weeks. In the meantime, feel free to use an app like MyFitnessPal to calculate the nutrition facts on your own!

  6. Sarah Wade

    5 stars
    Ooops! Forgot to add, make sure you use a vegetable broth that you love! I’ve made this with both high quality and low quality vegetable broth and it’s a HUGE difference. If you didn’t like this recipe, try it again with a good veggie broth and it’ll change your mind

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for sharing, Sarah!

  7. Sarah Wade

    5 stars
    We make this at least 2/4 weeks a month for meal prep. It reheats great and is so creamy and hearty. This soup is so indulgent that I have to really remind myself it’s actually healthy! My 1 year old loves it AND it’s an instant pot recipe?! You can see why we make this so often

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

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

  8. Lin

    I absolutely love this soup. Easy, delicious, and healthy.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Lin, So glad to hear you loved this recipe!

  9. Soupfiend

    1 star
    This isn’t soup, it’s sludge. Yuck, disgusting.

  10. Sam

    5 stars
    I’ve made this twice now and it was really good both times, but I have one comment:

    For anyone who wants it more creamy but doesn’t have the best blender, blend the cashews first, by themselves until creamy (just soak them in the boiling water then blend), and then add the rest of the soup

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for sharing, Sam!

  11. Caitlin

    5 stars
    This is the most flavourful, creamy and delicious soup I’ve ever made! I seriously cannot recommend it enough, and will be making this over and over again. Thanks for the incredible recipe, Nisha!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

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

  12. Anthea

    5 stars
    I found this recipe 3 weeks ago and have now made it 4 times. Love it! Make a big pot and take it for lunches. Nice hearty soup!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for the lovely feedback, Anthea!

  13. Serena

    5 stars
    Instant favorite in our house 👏👏

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

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

  14. Beth

    5 stars
    A really nice and simple recipe. Can be done vegan or vegetarian. I added extra powdered rosemary, extra grated cheese and some white pepper in it :)
    It has the added advantage of being light due to the lack of the traditional heavy cream. But it is sooo creamy! Will definitely do it again!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      So glad you loved the soup, Beth!

  15. Manny

    Oh my God!!! is all I can say. This cauliflower soup I have made now at least 5 times since finding the recipe. I have made this soup for several friends and they have all raved about it. I have added a few broccoli florets to the pot and when blended adds a tinge of green to the soup. Thank you so much for all your delicious recipes.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Manny, we’re thrilled to hear you enjoyed this recipe! 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!

  16. Peggy

    5 stars
    Yum! Delicious – and easy!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for the lovely feedback, Peggy!

  17. Scott

    5 stars
    Ok, this is truly the best soup that I have ever had, let alone made! The layers of flavor from the herbs just keep giving and the texture combo of puree of cauliflower and bean is nothing short of brilliant. The lemon zest and olive oil provided an artisan zip at the end. I had only a bit left over so I added a diced potato and extended to create a substantial meal, will try adding kale next time but perfect as is.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

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

  18. Santos

    5 stars
    This soup is so yummy! Gives me holiday vibes.
    Definitely will make this again!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

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

  19. Jacob

    5 stars
    Great recipe! Second time making it and both turned out great. I only had one can of cannellini beans, so used 1 can of pinto + 1 can of cannellini beans with the recipe instead and it turned out great! Now curious to try other bean combinations.

    I felt mine needed a little more sour, so I put some lemon juice + lemon zest. Also…toasted pumpkin seeds or toasted pine nuts go really well with this.

    Thank you! Very pleased with every recipe of yours that I’ve tried and this is my #1 stop for Vegan recipes <3

  20. Shruti

    3 stars
    The title of this soup should be white bean soup because the beans overpower the cauliflower. You can barely taste it.

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