Cauliflower Cheese Soup is a delicious way to add more veggies into your life. This version is made lighter by skipping the heavy cream, but it still has all the comforting flavor you love!
Why You’ll Love It
It’s loaded with veggies. Cauliflower is the star of this soup, but adding onion, carrots and celery boost the flavor even more. Plus, you’ll get extra fiber and nutrients in each bite!
It’s delicious. Cauliflower has a relatively mild flavor, which is why it works so well as the base for a pizza crust, and as a low carb mashed potato alternative. When you add seasonings like thyme, salt, and pepper, plus a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes, the flavor comes to life!
It’s budget-friendly. Instead of calling for store-bought chicken broth, this cauliflower soup recipe uses water as the base, and calls for half the cheese compared to traditional recipes. The result is still creamy and loaded with flavor!
It’s flexible. If you need to swap out a spice (like a pinch of cayenne pepper instead of red pepper flakes) or prefer to use a different type of cheese, this soup is easy to taste and adjust as you go. You can even make it dairy-free, if you prefer, by using vegan cheese or omitting the cheese all together.
It’s gluten-free. Many cream-based soups are thickened with a roux made with all purpose flour, but this one gets its creamy texture from blended vegetables, instead. It’s healthier, but just as satisfying!
Ingredients You’ll Need
What’s in Cauliflower Cheese Soup?
- Cauliflower florets
- Cheddar cheese
- Salt & pepper
The carrots give this soup a naturally orange hue, but you can leave them out if you prefer a lighter colored soup. Cheddar cheese also comes in two colors– white or orange– and either variety will work for this recipe.
Pro Tip: Buy a block of cheddar cheese and shred it yourself for this recipe using the largest holes on a box grater. This will give your soup maximum creaminess, compared to using a bag of pre-shredded cheese which is coated in a powder to prevent the shred from sticking together. (Pre-shredded cheese might make your soup more grainy in texture.)
How to Make Cauliflower Cheese Soup
Pour the olive oil into a large pot or dutch oven over medium high heat, and saute the onion, carrots, and celery until they soften, about 8 minutes.
Add in the garlic, thyme, and red pepper flakes (if using) and stir for one more minute.
Next, add in the water, cauliflower, salt, and pepper. Bring the liquid to a boil, then lower the heat and cover the pot.
Let the soup simmer until the cauliflower is very tender, and practically falling apart when you pierce it with a fork, about 20 minutes.
Have more cauliflower to use up? You can roast the remaining cauliflower you have by drizzling it with olive oil in a rimmed baking sheet, then sprinkle with salt and roast at 400ºF for roughly 20 minutes, or until the bottom of the cauliflower looks golden.
This makes a great topping for the soup when you are ready to serve.
When the vegetables are tender, transfer the soup to a blender and blend until smooth. (Or you can simply pulse it a few times, if you’d like to leave some texture. The consistency is totally up to you!) Alternatively, you can use an immersion blender and blend the soup directly in the pot.
Pro Tip: Be sure to remove the vent in your blender’s lid, then cover that with a thin dish towel so steam can safely escape the blender as it blends hot liquids. This will prevent the steam pressure from blowing the lid off your blender! (And help you avoid getting burned or splattered in the process.)
Return the blended soup to the pot over medium heat, and stir in the cheese. When the cheese has melted, adjust the seasoning to taste.
You may need to add up to a 1/2 teaspoon more salt, depending on how salty the cheese is. (Sharp cheddar cheese tends to be more salty than mild cheddar cheese.) If your soup tastes bland, add more salt until the flavor really pops!
Ladle the soup into serving bowls, and garnish with extra cheddar cheese and a sprig of fresh thyme. (You can also garnish with a dash of nutmeg, for a more complex flavor combination.)
Leftover soup can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Or, you can store it in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Substitutions & Common Questions
Do I have to use olive oil? You can make this recipe oil-free by water-sauteing the veggies, or swap the olive oil for butter, instead.
Can I use any other cheese? Of course! You can use any variety of cheese you prefer for this recipe. Just keep in mind that the cheese does add flavor, so be sure to use a cheese that you love and season to taste after that.
Can I make it dairy-free? Try my vegan cauliflower soup recipe instead.
Looking for more soup recipes? Try Healthy Broccoli Cheddar Soup, Black Bean Soup, or Curry Chicken Soup for more fan favorites.
Cauliflower Cheese Soup
Cauliflower Cheese Soup has a creamy, velvety texture without using heavy cream. It’s a delicious way to sneak more veggies into your life!
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion , chopped
- 2 carrots , chopped
- 2 celery ribs , chopped
- 2 garlic cloves , minced
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 5 cups water
- 1 pound cauliflower florets (see notes)
- 2 teaspoons fine sea salt (see notes)
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 4 ounces cheddar cheese , shredded
Add the olive oil to a large pot over medium high heat, and saute the onion, carrots, and celery until they soften, about 8 minutes. Add in the garlic, thyme, and red pepper flakes and stir briefly, about 1 more minute.
Pour in the water, then add in the cauliflower, salt, and pepper. Bring the liquid to a boil over high heat, then once the soup is boiling, lower the heat to a gentle simmer and cover the pot with a lid. Let the soup cook until the cauliflower is very tender, about 20 minutes.
Transfer the soup to a high-speed blender, and carefully blend until it looks creamy, about 60 seconds. Be sure to remove the vent in your blender’s lid and cover it with a thin dish towel, to allow steam to safely escape without splattering. (Otherwise the steam pressure could blow the lid off!) Alternatively, you can use an immersion blender to blend the soup directly in the pot.
Once the soup is blended, return it to the pot over medium heat and stir in the shredded cheese. Stir until the cheese has melted, then adjust any seasoning to taste. (You may need to add an extra 1/4 teaspoon of salt, or more depending on how much flavor the cheese added.) Serve warm, with extra shredded cheese or fresh thyme on top. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.
• If you have a head of cauliflower that is 1.5 pounds, you can roast the remaining cauliflower as a topping for this soup. To roast the cauliflower, preheat the oven to 400ºF and toss the cauliflower in a rimmed baking sheet with a drizzle of olive oil. Arrange in a single layer, sprinkle with salt, and roast until the cauliflower is tender, about 20 minutes.
• This recipe calls for water instead of broth, which is why it needs a generous seasoning of salt. I use Real Salt brand when testing my recipes, so you may need to use more or less salt if you’re using a different variety. You can always start with less and add more to taste, but if the soup tastes bland, please don’t be afraid to add more salt! If you decide to start with a store-bought veggie or chicken broth, be sure to cut-back on the salt, since the broth will already contain sodium.
Calories: 132kcal, Carbohydrates: 8g, Protein: 6g, Fat: 9g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 3g, Cholesterol: 19mg, Sodium: 367mg, Potassium: 335mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 3625IU, Vitamin C: 39mg, Calcium: 172mg, Iron: 1mg
If you try this cauliflower cheddar soup recipe, please leave a comment and star rating below letting me know how you like it.