Creamy Cauliflower Soup (Dairy-Free and Gluten-Free) – Shurbit Arnabeet

A soup that “eats like a hug”, and is also super simple to make!

“There is incredible beauty in simplicity.” Not many people would argue with that statement. But does it apply to food? Foodies and cooks might hesitate a little before admitting that at times, certain ingredients shine on their own. This is not meant to undermine what talented cooks do best – which is to bring the flavors that work well together in the same pot, pan or blender, and give birth to a recipe that beats the original ingredients’ individual flavors in raw form. But sometimes, over-zealous cooks (I’ll admit I belong to this camp) can be guilty of doing too much to a recipe … adding too many flavors … doing ridiculous culinary ‘acrobatics’ to develop a recipe that may have benefited from less complication, not more. Sometimes what a recipe is lacking is not flavor – but simplicity. And today, I want to share with you a recipe that has rocked my world because it’s so darn simple to make!

You see, on a cold day a couple of weeks ago, I was inspired to make a creamy cauliflower soup. I had been reading about the benefits of cauliflower (cauliflower is arnabeet in Arabic), a cruciferous vegetable that is chock-full of vitamins that have been found to protect against cancer. If you’re into health, then these babies belong in your dinner plans, and frequently!

Cauliflower is an incredibly tasty and versatile vegetable … especially in soup!

Since it was a cold day, I envisioned something creamy and rich. But I didn’t want to add dairy because my husband can’t digest cooked dairy that well. So, naturally I visited my favorite food sites and blogs to get inspired by a recipe. Alas, every single one of them had dairy. I was seeking simplicity. So I continued searching until I came across this beautifully written recipe from Food 52Paul Bertolli’s Cauliflower Soup had all of 3-4 ingredients, in addition to salt and pepper – and none of them were dairy! The writer’s literary prowess really won me over too:

Like butternut squash, cauliflower is one of those wintry vegetables that puts up no resistance. With a little boiling and swirling in a blender, it completely dissolves into a soup that eats like a hug. (Food 52)

“Eats like a hug?” Wow – if that’s not convincing in its simplicity, I don’t know what is! As an overzealous cook (see above), I itched to add more ingredients. Won’t a potato or two add more creaminess? What about some interesting spice like thyme or sage? How about mushrooms? Can I make it with chicken broth instead of bland water? The irresistible urge to “make it my own” won over the original recipe, and I ended up cooking it with chicken broth instead of water, and with a little bit of ghee instead of the olive oil used for flavor. I resisted the urge to add more spices, simply because the wording of the original post was so convincing:

When you curb your instincts to overseason and overfatten, yes, sometimes you end up with gruel; but sometimes you end up with a supple, magical puree, one that is delicate and sweet and smooth as a flannel scarf. Even if you are not a fan of cauliflower (Bertolli isnt), you might make an exception for this soup. (Food 52)

I have to admit that I haven’t tried making this soup with just water, especially because I almost always have chicken broth in stock (we boil a fresh chicken once a week and I use the bones to make broth again). But it has quickly become one of my favorite soups this winter. Over the last couple of days as the winter weather has started to show its true colors, I have made this recipe to warm our bodies from within and to infuse my family with with immune-strengthening vitamins and minerals. I urge you to try this, and just this once, do make a reasonable attempt to keep it simple … I know I benefited from this advice!

Creamy Cauliflower Soup (Dairy-Free and Gluten-Free) – Shurbit Arnabeet

by Heba, inspired by Paul Bertolli’s Cauliflower Soup

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Keywords: boil saute soup/stew gluten-free low-carb nut-free soy-free sugar-free cauliflower winter

Ingredients (Serves 8 )

  • 2 tablespoons grass-fed ghee (or 3 tablespoons olive oil)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, sliced thin
  • 1 head large fresh organic cauliflower, roughly chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 7-8 cups homemade chicken broth (from organic chickens), or enough broth to cover cauliflower
  • Himalayan sea salt or other unrefined salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste


(1) Make chicken broth: If you don’t have fresh broth on hand, you can easily make it in under an hour. Refer to our post on making broth here. If you prefer making a vegetarian version, simply replace broth with filtered water.

(2) Chop and saute onion: Chop 1 onion and saute it in a large pot with 2 tablespoons of grass-fed ghee or olive oil (I prefer the taste of ghee to oil).

(3) Chop cauliflower and add to pot: Once the onions have lightly browned and become fragrant, add the cauliflower and saute for another few minutes.

(4) Add broth to cauliflower: Add the broth to the pot and bring to a boil. Then lower the heat and leave to simmer until cauliflower is tender – about 20 minutes.

(5) Blend and add seasoning: Using an immersion blender (it’s easier than transferring to blender), blend the cauliflower, broth and onions into a creamy puree. Add salt and pepper to taste, and serve while hot.

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  1. HI Heba,

    Do you have an idea on what is ‘hing = asafoetida’ in Arabic? Trying to ask around for it here. I need to add this to my lentil soup if it doesn’t alter the taste too much!

    For gas generally I have been told, black pepper, cumin and parsley, but I think it only works in large amounts which kind of changes the taste of the dish. Of course there is beano or gaso when all fails … hehe
    Ameirah recently posted…Biscuit au Chocolat [Baskoot bil Chocalata]My Profile

    • Hey Ameirah! I have never seen asafoetida being used in Arabic/Middle Eastern cooking, but a web search revealed that it has an Arabic name: Haltheeth or Tyib ( Not even sure how to pronounce those, or if you’ll have any luck finding them in Egypt …

      For legumes, I highly advocate soaking overnight (even better, over 24 hours) in lukewarm water with a few tablespoons of something acidic – like vinegar, lemon juice or liquid whey (the liquid that separates from yogurt). This “de-gasses” the beans (and I do this with grains too), and neutralizes anti-nutrients like phytic acid which are present in large quantities in legumes and grains. I throw out the soaking water, add other fresh filtered water, bring to a boil, and throw out even that water. I then boil some water separately and add to the beans. I add a bit of fresh ginger and a small piece of potato in there to help aid cooking/digestion (I take them out prior to eating). The asafoetida has a stinky smell, but doesn’t really affect the taste unless you add a ton to your dish. And it helps with de-gassing legumes but not nearly as much as the soaking process I describe above. As you mention, cumin and parsely also help a lot. Combining all the above makes a huge difference though.

      Let me know if you do find it in Egypt, and what the official name is!
      Heba recently posted…Creamy Cauliflower Soup (Dairy-Free and Gluten-Free) – Shurbit ArnabeetMy Profile

  2. I love cauliflower, and I agree that sometimes the simple things are the best! I’m hosting a weekly blog carnival specifically for soups, stocks and chowders, every Sunday! I would love it if you would come over and post this recipe. Here’s a link with more information:

    I hope to see you there!
    Debbie @ Easy Natural Food recently posted…Quick and Easy Breakfast Rice PuddingMy Profile

  3. I made this during Ramadan – but I roasted the cauliflower after tossing them in a dollop of oil with mustard seeds and garam masala. I then added stock to it, and pureed it. It was SO good. A lil on the grainy side, texturally speaking, but otherwise, the Indian flavors made it delish!

    I will definitely try your much faster version 🙂
    Brenda recently posted…Dawood Basha (David Pasha) Meatballs My Profile

    • Ooh love the idea of adding mustard seeds and garam masala! Totally trying that next time 😉 Oh, and the key to getting it to be creamy is to leave the cauliflower to cook in the broth for a bit of time until it’s soft. Then, the immersion blender does the rest!

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