No-Cream Creamy Cauliflower Soup ♥

No-Cream Creamy Cauliflower Soup
graphic button small size size 10 Today's simple cauliflower soup recipe: If you have just three ingredients, a head of cauliflower, an onion and olive oil, you can make this soup! It turns out so creamy, even though it's made without cream, thanks to an unusual slightly-fussy-but-not-difficult technique to draw out flavor and creaminess. Made with water, it's a delicious vegan soup for everyone. Made with chicken stock (Note to Vegetarians), it's a low-calorie satisfying, substantial supper. Low carb. Weight Watchers 1 or 2 points. graphic button small size size 10

Something I've learned about restaurant chefs: many of them cook the same few dishes, again and again, over and over. Sheer repetition means "nailing" the muscle memory of technique and the sensory cues of color, smell, texture, touch. If practice makes perfect, there's a reason that restaurant chefs are good at what they do.

We home cooks, if we make the one same thing once a week, it's a lot, especially if we are curious cooks who for fun are ever expanding our recipe repertoire. Me, right now I make only two things every week, although in fact, every day. Creamy Oatmeal in the Microwave with Peanut Butter. Quick 'n' Easy Raw Salad. But repetition means I have nailed these "recipes".

That's why a recipe from Food 52 first caught my attention: the technique was interesting! My own long-time recipe for Quick Cauliflower Soup (and its broccoli counterpart) is all about putting fresh, hot and wholesome food on the table fast, 25 minutes, start to finish, with time to set the table, empty the dishwasher and make a quick salad or sandwich to make alongside.

Food 52's recipe is an adaptation of a recipe from Paul Bertolli, who spent 20 years at Alice Waters' famous Chez Panisse and has now founded Fra'Mani, a source of hand-crafted foods. It may be the slow-food version of cauliflower soup. The recipe is more leisurely, it strolls along, taking time and deliberation to draw out flavor and texture. It uses more oil than my recipe but not the usual restaurant-level ratio of oil:food.

And it's good, really good.


Hands-on time: 10 minutes up front, 5 minutes to finish, plus occasional attention throughout
Time to table: 1 hour
Makes 8 cups

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped roughly

1 large head cauliflower, outer leaves removed, core removed and chopped, how to cut up a whole head of cauliflower
1/2 cup water or chicken stock
Kosher salt, to taste

4 cups water or chicken stock
1/2 cup hot water or hot chicken stock

To taste, salt and freshly ground pepper
For eye appeal, a scattering of fresh herbs, optional

SWEAT THE ONIONS In a large, heavy saucepan, heat the olive oil on MEDIUM until shimmery, add the onion and stir well to coat with fat. Cook gently, stirring occasionally, letting the onions cook without turning brown. (An extra tip? This technique is called "sweating" the onions. Now you know!)

BRAISE THE CAULIFLOWER Stir in the cauliflower, 1/2 cup water or stock and a little salt. Cover and let cook until the cauliflower is tender, about 20 minutes.

ADD MORE WATER Stir in 4 cups water or stock, cover and bring back to a simmer, let cook until cauliflower is fall-apart tender and fully cooked, about 20 minutes.

PURÉE In batches, transfer the soup to a blender and purée until smooth. PLEASE, for important safety tips with hot liquids and blenders, read Hot Liquids & Blenders. Return to the pot.

LET REST Off heat, let the soup stand for 20 minutes, it should thicken slightly.

FINISH Stir in the hot water or stock and bring the soup back to temperature.

SERVE & SAVOR To serve, season with salt and pepper. Transfer to individual serving bowls, scatter with fresh herbs.

Reheats beautifully.

graphic button small size size 10 I made this soup twice, once with water and once with good Homemade Chicken Stock. Both were wonderful, the one with water was a wonderful clear white color, the one with chicken stock was darker. Taste-wise, both were great.
graphic button small size size 10 The first time, I followed the instructions for a 20-minute rest time. Was it worth it? I didn't find any change in the soup after the wait so the second time, skipped the rest period. But I include it, in deference to the chef who has "nailed" technique.
graphic button small size size 10 An immersion blender would do the trick, I think, with no trouble, although without the ultra creaminess that a blender can achieve.

A Veggie Venture - Printer Friendly Recipe Graphic

Still Hungry?

Weight Watchers, Meet Michael Pollan
(my friend Ann's story, how she lost 30 pounds in 3 months)

ST LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, my restaurant-recipe column LAST WEEK
Chicken Tortilla Soup from Chez Marilyn in Alton, IL

Potato, Cabbage & Rapini Colcannon graphic button small size size 10 Clean-out-the-Fridge Purée graphic button small size size 10 Beet Ice Cream graphic button small size size 10 Pasta with Sausage & Broccoli Rabe graphic button small size size 10 Cauliflower Blue Cheese Gratin graphic button small size size 10 Fennel Mashed Potatoes graphic button small size size 10 Scalloped Potato & Apple graphic button small size size 10 Weight Watchers Mexican Zero Points Soup graphic button small size size 10 Bok Choy Salad with Homemade Creamy Vinaigrette (<<< this week's healthy favorite!) graphic button small size size 10 How to Roast Potatoes to Perfection graphic button small size size 10 Hot & Sour Chickpeas

~ Roasted Cauliflower ~
~ Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Lemon Vinaigrette ~
~ Cauliflower Spanish 'Rice' ~
~ more cauliflower recipes ~
from A Veggie Venture

~ Cauliflower Salad with Fresh Herbs ~
~ Cauliflower Risotto ~
~ Lighter Mashed 'Potatoes' ~
~ more cauliflower recipes ~
from Kitchen Parade, my food column

A Veggie Venture is home of 'veggie evangelist' Alanna Kellogg and the
famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.
© Copyright Kitchen Parade 2012

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. Hi Alanna,
    Have you tried creaming soups with cashews? All you need to do is soak raw cashews blend them into a cream and stir into soups or sauces, it works great.
    Thanks for all you yummy recipes.

  2. Hi Bettie ~ I have, you know, but not for many, many years, thanks for the reminder.

    Aha -- although wait, I just checked the archives and I did use nuts for in another soup, this Raw Corn Chowder.

    PS Thanks for the kind words!

  3. Good technique. I really like reading Bertolli - he always makes me rethink something. This recipes sounds great as is, but it might be fun to add some beans to the mix (with chick peas you could even add Indian spices and go a whole new direction). Anyway, good recipe - this one is a keeper (they all are, but you know what I mean).

  4. I'm in aw over this recipe. I'm not a big fan of cauliflower. It just doesn't do it for me. but this is sooo good!!!! I can't believe 3 ingredients too. WOW thankyou!

  5. Anonymous ~ WOW thank you for writing, I’m thrilled you liked the soup so much! Spread the good word! :-)


Post a Comment

Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe, whether a current recipe or a long-ago favorite. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. ~ Alanna