The Washington Post

Back Pocket Cauliflower Soup

Back Pocket Cauliflower Soup 6.000

Goran Kosanovic for The Washington Post

Jun 6, 2018

This is a shortcut, fewer-dishes-to-clean adaptation of a near-perfect recipe from California chef-restaurateur Paul Bertolli. The soup can stay on the menu even when you’re entertaining friends with dietary restrictions, as it’s both meatless and gluten-free. In warm weather, it's nice to serve it chilled.

While colored cauliflowers are all the rage at farmers markets these days, the non-traditional varieties make for muddy-looking soup. Stick with the cream-colored variety for this recipe.

To read the accompanying story, see: No courses, no assigned seats, no hassles: How I throw a dinner party.

Make Ahead: The soup tastes even better after a day’s refrigeration, and it can hold for up to 3 days.


When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 6 servings; first-course servings makes about 8 cups

  • 1 healthy glug extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for garnish
  • 1 medium yellow or white onion, coarsely chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 large head cauliflower (1 1/2 pounds)
  • Cold water
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Shaved or grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (optional; may substitute nutritional yeast)


Heat a heavy-bottomed soup pot or Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add enough oil to generously coat the bottom of the pot. Add the onion and a pinch of salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft, translucent and beginning to turn golden, 10 to 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut your cauliflower into florets (large ones do just fine here).

When the onions are ready, add the cauliflower to the pot, add another healthy pinch of salt and enough water to come halfway up the cauliflower in the pot. Give a quick stir, clap the lid on the pot, and cook until the cauliflower is easily pierced by a fork, 15 to 20 minutes. Uncover, add enough water to cover the cauliflower by about an inch, bring to barely a boil, then reduce the heat to low and cook for 20 minutes, until the cauliflower begins to break down.

Turn off the heat; let cool slightly.

Use an immersion (stick) blender to puree until there are no chunks left and the soup has the consistency of very heavy cream. Set aside until ready to serve (if you’re serving later that day, just leave the pot on the stove; if serving the next day, refrigerate).

When ready to serve, warm the soup over low heat, adding water as needed to achieve a consistency you’re pleased with. Check seasoning, adding more salt as needed.

Serve with a drizzle of the oil you have and a couple cracks of fresh black pepper. Parmesan or even a pinch of nutritional yeast adds extra oomph.

Recipe Source

From food writer Sara Franklin.

Tested by Andy Sikkenga.

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Nutritional Facts

Calories per serving (using 2 tablespoons oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt): 80

% Daily Values*

Total Fat: 5g 8%

Saturated Fat: 1g 5%

Cholesterol: 0mg 0%

Sodium: 80mg 3%

Total Carbohydrates: 7g 2%

Dietary Fiber: 3g 12%

Sugar: 3g

Protein: 2g

*Percent Daily Value based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Total Fat: Less than 65g

Saturated Fat: Less than 20g

Cholesterol: Less than 300mg

Sodium: Less than 2,400mg

Total Carbohydrates: 300g

Dietary Fiber: 25g

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