Creamy Vegan Cauliflower Soup with Sausage and Kale
There are a few tricks for making a creamy soup without any actual cream. Our favorite method? It has to be cashews, which can transform a brothy pot into a silky, luscious puree like nobody’s business. Here, Rainbow Plant Life author Nisha Vora harnesses the power of the cashew in her recipe for creamy vegan cauliflower soup with sausage and kale.
(Psst: This dish can be made in an Instant Pot if you want to save time. See the notes below for all the deets.)
1 cup raw cashews
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for finishing
2 large leeks—washed, trimmed and diced (white and light green parts only)
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
4 cups vegetable broth
20 ounces cauliflower, cut into small-medium florets
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 to 2 cups water
3 to 4 ounces kale (2 to 3 large handfuls)
10 to 14 ounces vegan sausage
1 tablespoon lemon juice (optional)
Chopped fresh thyme and parsley, to garnish (optional)
1. Place the cashews in a small bowl. Pour over enough boiling water to cover the cashews. Soak while you prep everything else, about 15 minutes. Drain before using.
2. Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven or pot over medium-high heat. Add the leeks and sauté until they are softened and starting to brown, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, thyme, oregano and red pepper flakes (if using), and cook, stirring frequently, about 1 minute.
3. Pour in the vegetable broth and deglaze the pot, stirring up any browned bits. Add the soaked and drained cashews, cauliflower florets, salt and pepper to taste. Add enough water to cover the cauliflower (at least 1 cup for a thick soup, but you can add more if you want a thinner texture).
4. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to maintain a rapid simmer and cook until the cauliflower is tender, 10 to 15 minutes.
5. While the soup is simmering, chop the kale into thin strips. Set aside.
6. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, crumble the vegan sausage into the pan and stir occasionally, until the sausage is browned. Alternatively, slice the sausage into discs and sear on both sides. Remove from the heat and set aside.
7. When the soup is done cooking, transfer to a blender (working in batches as needed) and blend it until thick, creamy and smooth. Remove the center cap on the blender lid and cover it with a dish towel to allow the steam to escape while blending. (Alternatively, use an immersion blender.)
8. Return the pureed soup to the pot and return to a simmer. If it is too thick, add more water to thin. Add the sliced kale and browned sausage, and simmer until the kale is tender and wilted, about 3 minutes. Squeeze in some lemon juice, if using. Taste for seasoning, adding more salt and pepper as needed.
9. Serve each soup bowl with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, and if desired, fresh thyme and parsley.
To make in an Instant Pot, select the Sauté setting. Crumble the vegan sausage into the pot and cook until browned, stirring occasionally. Remove from the pot and set aside. Add the oil, then add the leeks and cook until starting to turn brown, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, thyme, oregano and red pepper flakes (if using), and cook, stirring frequently, about 1 minute.
Pour in the vegetable broth and use a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot. Add 1 cup of water, the soaked and drained cashews, cauliflower florets, and 1½ teaspoons kosher salt black pepper to taste. Select the Pressure Cook setting at High Pressure for 7 minutes.
Once the timer goes off, allow a natural pressure release for 10 minutes and then switch the Pressure Release knob from Sealing to Venting to release any remaining steam. Use an immersion blender to blend the soup in the pot (or if you don’t have one, transfer the soup to a blender and follow the instructions above). Once blended, stir in the browned sausage and sliced kale to heat through until kale is wilted, about 4 minutes.