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This creamy Cauliflower Cheese Soup is an all-star recipe. It’s rich and comforting, and it makes chilly nights feel oh-so-much better. It was originally published in my first cookbook, The Mom 100 Cookbook, and every time I make and serve it, I am reminded of the beauty of simplicity in a soup.

Serve with Chimichurri Garlic Bread, Biscuits, Pan con Tomate, Irish Soda Bread, or Pesto Crescent Rolls for something to dip in this creamy, warming dish. Or opt for a lighter Carrot Apple Salad to contrast the richness.

Two bowls of Cauliflower Cheese Soup

Cauliflower Cheese Soup: Creamy and rich, this vegetarian soup is so easy to make and as comforting as a cashmere sweater.

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Ingredients

  • Cauliflower – The great thing about this soup is that it uses the whole head of cauliflower, not just the florets since everything gets pureed up.
  • Thyme – If you have some fresh herbs on hand, skip the dried thyme and add a teaspoon or so of the fresh herbs (try thyme, marjoram, oregano…whatever you have, whatever you like), but add them during the final simmer. 
  • Broth – If you want vegetarian soup, just make sure to use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.
  • Cayenne – You have choices about adding a bit of heat to the soup, which I love. Cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes, hot pepper sauce — any of these ingredients will give the soup a bit of a kick. The amount is definitely to taste. And you can also add some hot sauce at the end when serving.
  • Heavy cream – For those of us who see heavy cream and think, “Hold on, just a sec!” Let’s all hold hands and remember that a little heavy cream goes a long way in texture, flavor, and just pure satisfaction.
  • Sharp cheddar – Using white cheddar keeps the soup a pretty pale color, while yellow cheddar will…well, you took art class, you know what yellow cheddar will do.
  • Butter – Just a bit to sauté the onion and garlic.
  • Onion – Chopped onion is a classic soup essential.
  • Minced garlic– Mincing it really finely helps the flavor come through.
  • Dijon mustard– Adds a bit of spice.
  • Flour – Thickens the soup’s texture.
Woman stirring a bowl of Cauliflower Cheese Soup

How to Make Cauliflower Cheese Soup

  1. Cook the cauliflower: Bring 1 inch of salted water to a boil in a large pot. Add the cauliflower, cover, reduce the heat to medium-high, and simmer for 10 minutes or until very tender. Drain and set aside.
  2. Sauté the onion and garlic: Melt the butter in the same pot and sauté the onion until tender, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes more.
Diced onions and garlic in a pot.
  1. Add seasonings and broth: Increase the heat to medium and whisk in the flour and dried thyme or nutmeg. Whisk until the flour starts to color, then gradually whisk in the broth, Dijon, and hot sauce.
  2. Add the cooked cauliflower and puree: At this point, you can transfer it to a blender or food processor and puree the soup, or use your immersion blender and puree right in the pot.
  3. Add cream: Return the soup to the pot if you transferred it out. Add the cream or milk and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
Adding cream to pot of Cauliflower Cheese Soup.
  1. Sprinkle cheese: Lower the heat. Gradually sprinkle in cheddar cheese and stir until the cheese is melted and everything is hot, but don’t allow it to come to a simmer, or it might separate.
Adding cheese to large soup pot.
  1. Season to taste and serve.
Scooping Cauliflower Cheese Soup from red bowl with spoon.

FAQs

Why use an immersion blender to make soup?

The immersion blender is the opposite of the one-off tool. It’s a blender on a stick that you can put right into a mixture, hot or cold, press a button, stir it around, and purée the whole shebang. It’s brilliant, and for some of us, the number of times I feel sure I would have burned myself transferring hot soups to a blender to purée pays for the immersion or stick blender over and over again. All of this is to say, buy one if you use your food processor or blender with any regularity, and you’ll find yourself reaching for it often.

Why should you avoid simmering your soup after adding cheese?

Don’t let the cheese boil after adding it, as this can cause the soup to clump, curdle, or separate.

How do you melt cheese in soup without curdling it?

Don’t dump it in all at once. Instead, add it in batches! Stir until each batch is melted, and then add the next to avoid clumping and curdling. Keep the heat medium-low.

Bowls of Cauliflower Cheese Soup on table with wine and bread

Pro Cooking Tips

  • Make sure to cook the cauliflower until it is very tender. You do not want al dente or crisp-tender cauliflower here; you want very tender cauliflower that will blend up smoothly. 
  • Add the cheese gradually over low heat, or even off the heat, stirring as each handful of cheese is sprinkled in. This will prevent the soup from separating and becoming grainy. Cheddar melts well into the soup, but too-high of heat can cause it to break down, so keep the heat very low at the end.
  • You can also transfer the soup to a food processor or blender and purée it in batches. Don’t fill the food processor or blender too full. Stop at half full, or the hot liquid could pop the top off the machine and splash out.
  • You can puree the soup until quite smooth, or leave it kind of nubby in texture.
  • A sprinkle of chopped crispy bacon on top would also be great, though obviously not vegetarian!

Make-Ahead

  • You can make the soup up to 2 days ahead; just make sure to reheat it gently over low heat.
  • This soup does not freeze well because of the dairy.

What to Serve With Cauliflower Cheese Soup

Best Garlic Bread Ever

Romaine, Pear, and Goat Cheese Salad

Old-Fashioned Buttermilk Biscuits

Cauliflower Cheese Soup in bowl with spoons, wine, and crusty bread.

More Warming Vegetarian Soup Recipes

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Cauliflower Cheese Soup

5 from 2 votes
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 35 minutes
Servings: 6 People
Creamy and rich, this vegetarian cauliflower soup is so easy to make and as comforting as a cashmere sweater.

Ingredients 

  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt (plus more to taste)
  • 1 large head cauliflower (about 2 pounds, cored and cut into 1-inch pieces)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 onion (chopped)
  • ½ teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme (or 1 big pinch ground nutmeg)
  • 4 cups less-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • teaspoon cayenne (or a few shakes Tabasco sauce, or 1 squirt Sriracha sauce, all optional)
  • 1 cup heavy cream or whole milk (or a combination of the two)
  • Freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
  • 1 ½ cups grated sharp or extra-sharp cheddar

Instructions 

  • Fill a large pot with 1 inch of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of salt and the cauliflower, cover, reduce the heat to medium-high, and simmer for 10 minutes, or until very tender. Drain and set the cauliflower aside.
  • Melt the butter in the same pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until tender but not browned, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes, until the garlic starts to turn golden and becomes fragrant. Increase the heat to medium and whisk in the flour and dried thyme or nutmeg. Whisk for a couple of minutes, until the flour starts to color, then gradually whisk in the broth, Dijon, and whatever spicy ingredient you may be using. Bring to a simmer, and add the cooked cauliflower.
  • At this point, you can transfer it to a blender or food processor (in batches if necessary) and puree the soup, or better yet, use your immersion blender and puree until smooth right in the pot. Make it as smooth or chunky as you like. Return it to the pot if you transferred it out. Add the cream or milk and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Lower the heat, and gradually sprinkle in cheddar cheese and stir until the cheese is melted and everything is hot, but don’t allow it to come to a simmer, or it might separate. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Notes

  • Make sure to cook the cauliflower until it is very tender — you do not want al dente or crisp-tender cauliflower here; you want very tender cauliflower that will blend up smoothly. 
  • Add the cheese gradually over low heat, or even off the heat, stirring as each handful of cheese is sprinkled in. This will prevent the soup from separating and becoming grainy. Cheddar melts well into the soup, but too-high heat can cause it to break down, so keep the heat very low at the end.
  • You can also transfer the soup to a food processor or blender and purée it in batches. Don’t fill the food processor or blender too full. Stop at half full, or the hot liquid could pop the top off the machine and splash out.
  • You can puree the soup until quite smooth, or leave it kind of nubby in texture.
  • A sprinkle of chopped crispy bacon on top would also be great, though obviously not vegetarian!
  • You can make the soup up to 2 days ahead; just make sure to reheat it gently over low heat.

Nutrition

Calories: 362kcal, Carbohydrates: 15g, Protein: 14g, Fat: 29g, Saturated Fat: 17g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 7g, Trans Fat: 0.2g, Cholesterol: 83mg, Sodium: 1467mg, Potassium: 650mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 5g, Vitamin A: 1015IU, Vitamin C: 69mg, Calcium: 273mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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