This vegan cauliflower leek soup is deliciously creamy, super easy to make and so comforting. Say goodbye to your traditional potato leek soup recipe and hello to a lighter, healthier leek soup without potatoes.
This post has been updated from the original posted March 5, 2018.
I have been making potato leek soup for years. I love the flavor and the creaminess, plus the healthy benefits of leeks are a super draw for me. It’s so easy to swap the chicken broth in your favorite leek soup recipe for vegetable broth for an easy vegan potato leek soup.
Take it one step further the next time you make soup with leeks and swap those potatoes for cauliflower for an incredible creamy soup that’s a delicious meal the whole family will enjoy. Cauliflower is the perfect substitute for potatoes. When pureed into the soup, it provides the same texture as the potatoes, yet fewer calories and an abundance of vitamins, minerals and health benefits.
Vegan soup recipes are totally my jam, and as the weather cools off a hearty bowl of soup is just the kind of cozy meal I’m craving. Last summer I discovered that this delicious soup also tastes great served cold. Oh, yes…cauliflower and leek soup is now my favorite soup year round.
Nutritional Benefits of Leeks
- Leeks contain Vitamin K, manganese, Vitamin B6, cooper, iron, folate and antioxidants.
- They are known to improve digestion, support cardiovascular health, promote weight loss, and reduce inflammation.
- Like many allium veggies (garlic, onions), it’s good to cut leeks at least 10 minutes before you’re ready to use them in cooking to break down their cell walls and activate their enzymes.
Ingredients and substitutions
- Leeks: Subtle oniony flavor that’s kinda sweet and a bit earthy. Scallions or onions would be a good substitute. Recipe also calls for an onion. You can use extra leeks if you prefer their flavor.
- Cauliflower: Cauliflower has less carbs and more nutrients than potatoes. When cooked and pureed, it gives the same creamy texture though. A great substitution for traditional potato leek soup.
- Parsnips: Another great potato swap! Parsnips are rich in iron, potassium, magnesium, copper, zinc and phosphorus….plus fiber and anti-inflammatory properties. They have a subtle, earthy, kinda spicy flavor that really enhances this soup.
Why you’ll love this recipe
- All of the flavor and great texture of creamy potato leek soup with less carbs and less calories than the traditional version.
- Easy soup recipe with just a handful of ingredients.
- Perfect for meal prep since it freezes beautifully and reheats like a dream.
- The best soup to scoop up with an end of crusty bread!
How to wash leeks
- Trim off the root end and the woody green part. You can leave the green that is pliable.
- Cut lengthwise in half.
- Rinse well, pulling apart the layers if necessary, until all the dirt is dislodged.
What is Vichyssoise?
Vichyssoise is a French word that literally means cream of potato and leek soup. Lore has it that a man named Louis Diat, who hailed from a French town called Vichy, created a cold version of leek and potato soup by stirring in cold milk. He served this at the Ritz-Carlton in New York where he was the chef.
Vichyssoise is a French potato soup that is served cold. Good news for Vichyssoise lovers who are looking for a healthier version. This vegan cauliflower leek soup tastes great served cold or hot, making it a great substitute for the French classic and a fantastic soup to serve during hot weather.
How to make this soup
- Prepare ingredients before you begin. Wash leeks well to remove dirt and debris. Pat dry. Dice celery, parsnips and onions. Roughly chop the cauliflower. It’s going to get pureed later, so it doesn’t matter if you have beautiful florets or not.
- Heat large soup pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Saute chopped leeks, onions, celery and parsnips with salt and pepper in olive oil. If you prefer, use a couple Tablespoons veggie broth to saute the veggies and make this an oil free soup.
- Next, add the cauliflower and garlic and give it a good stir to coat with spices. I grate the garlic with a microplane directly over the pot. Cook, stirring constantly, until garlic is fragrant, but not burnt.
- Stir in vegetable broth and thyme sprigs and bring to a boil. If veggies aren’t completely covered with broth, add enough water to cover. Turn down to medium-low heat, to keep soup at a low simmer for 15-20 minutes, until cauliflower is soft.
- Use a hand-held immersion blender to puree soup until desired creamy consistency is achieved.
Debra’s Pro Tips
- If you’re looking for a super smooth texture, puree in a high speed blender. You’ll likely have to do this with half of the soup at a time. Otherwise, an immersion blender is easier and will still give a creamy consistency.
- Use frozen cauliflower florets to save time on prep. Use cauliflower rice to save time on cooking!
- Use fresh thyme sprigs for super flavor…but be sure to take the woody stems out before blending.
- Garnish with a squeeze of lemon juice and some chopped fresh parsley or sliced green onions.
- Enjoy steaming hot in the winter or serve this soup cold for a refreshing summer treat.
How to store and freeze soup
- Store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a week or the freezer for 3 months.
- Use wide mouth mason jars or freezer safe zip top bags.
- Soup will expand when it freezes. Leave 1-2″ space to allow for expansion.
- Label containers with name of soup and date.
More Delicious Recipes with Cauliflower
The best part of the leek, if you’re looking to add flavor to soup is the white part. The light green part can also be used, but the darker green part is tough and woody. A quick saute of the green parts will make them more tender and usable in leek soup.
Leeks have a lot of health benefits ranging from improved digestion and reduction of inflammation to healthier skin, teeth and eyes. Traditional leek soup uses heavy cream, heavily processed vegetable oil and often is garnished with sour cream..ingredients that are much less healthy.
A better idea for a healthy leek soup is to use vegetable stock, omit the dairy and replace the starchy potatoes with cauliflower. This cauliflower and leek soup is still rich and creamy, totally satisfying and a great alternative to the traditional recipe.
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Cauliflower Leek Soup
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 3 leeks
- 3 ribs celery
- 1 small onion
- 2 large parsnips
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon white pepper
- 5 sprigs fresh thyme sub 1 teaspoon dried
- 5 cloves garlic finely grated
- 1 head Cauliflower
- 8 cups veggie stock
- 1-2 Tablespoons lemon juice optional
- Prepare veggies: Slice leeks in half lengthwise and thoroughly wash and dry. Then thinly slice. Dice celery and onion. Roughly chop cauliflower, slice parsnips and peel garlic.
- In a large stock pot, heat olive oil and saute leeks, onion, celery, parsnips, salt, and pepper over medium heat until veggies are soft.
- Stir in cauliflower and coat with seasonings. Grate garlic over pot and stir into mixture until it becomes fragrant. Stir in the stock (if there's not enough to completely cover veggies, add enough water to cover) and thyme sprigs, and bring to a boil.
- Simmer over medium heat for 20 minutes, until cauliflower is soft enough to pierce easily with a fork.
- Remove thyme stems and puree soup with immersion blender or in batches using food processor or regular blender.
- Return to pot and taste for seasoning, adding more S+P as needed.
- Garnish with fresh parsley or thinly sliced green onions (scallions) or fresh thyme leaves removed from the stem.
OK…so this may sound weird…but I love cutting leeks!! YES!! I really do. There is something I like about the “crunch” as the knife slices through it. Sometimes they do make me cry….but I could cut them all day long. Now, as for your soup…this is comfort food in a bowl. Love the flavour combination, and I bet it tastes even better the next day.
I actually kind of love cutting leaks too. Even cleaning them. I think it’s because they go from dirty to perfectly clean so nicely…
I totally agree. Something meditative about it for me.
Yes….the flavors intensify after the soup sits for a day or two….and yes, comfort food for sure.
I make potato leek soup fairly often (Julia Child’s potato leek soup!) and it is SO GOOOOOOD! I love the idea of swapping the potatoes for cauliflower– what a healthy and yummy idea! I think Julia would approve– cauliflower can have such an amazing flavor. YUM
Oh, if Julia were still alive, I think she would embrace healthy swaps.
Im a new convert to cauliflower…..I cant believe how many things Im able to use it in for the health benefits and not sacrifice filling up. Id never thought to use it instead of potatoes…what a perfectly delicious way to lighten up a heavy potato soup! Definitely will be making this when it gets a little cooler here! Thanks
Cauliflower is a great sub, not only in soups but in smoothies and for grains too. Its neutral taste make it a great choice when you want to thicken things up while adding nutrition.
Nothing like soup on a bad weather day. I love cauliflower in soup! Love that you swapped out the potatoes and subbed it in! I need to use leeks more often.
All good stuff makes for a nourishing bowl of goodness.
I love leeks in soup, I love cauliflower soups, but I don’t think I’ve ever thought to put the two together. I can imagine just how nicely they’d compliment each other! I’m definitely going to have to give this a try (and to play around with the cauliflower-leek combo more in general). Cheers!
A combo of cauliflower and parsnips replace the potatoes….making it thick and creamy and a bit sweet too.
I love creamy soups that have no cream in them — they’re a guilt free pleasure, right? Your soup looks thick and luscious and I really appreciate the beautiful color the leeks add to the potage. Cauliflower is a mainstay in our house because we’re trying to limit our carbohydrates. I’ve used it in other methods, but never in a soup before, so I’m really excited to try it. I have a feeling this soup will make several appearances this season. Thanks in advance.
I totally agree….about the reduction of dairy and grains…..and this has all of the benefits, while still making healthy goals attainable. Enjoy.
I literally just made a big pot of cauliflower soup this morning, it is the best, so comforting and nourishing. Definitely trying your recipe next time with all the added veggies! I love parsnips and I bet they would add such a great flavor to this big bowl of yum!
Yes, the parsnips offer up a creamy and sweet flavor. Rounds this recipe out nicely.
Those leeks look gorgeous. I haven’t had cauliflower leek soup in so long! I am so excited that it’s pretty much fall because it means I can have soup day in and day out without overheating! I love the flavour combinations here and I love how it’s so creamy without heavy cream! thanks for sharing! 🙂
This looks amazing. I love cauliflower and leek! I have made potato leek soup many times, but I love this idea for a super healthy meal. The leftovers would be the best lunch too. I hope you got through the storm ok.
Cauliflower and leeks are two of my favorite vegetables to cook with this time of year, and together in a soup, they must be perfection. I love that you’ve added parsnips too. They have a great flavor, and they must help to give this soup its lovely silky texture. This looks like such a cozy bowl of warm up to for the fall!
We love the taste of leeks and they add so much to any dish! We use them quite a bit and I don’t mind cleaning and cutting them. I’ve never made cauliflower soup but this recipe is calling to me. I’m pinning.
I agree, leeks get a bad rep because they are usually holding onto a lot of dirt, but they’re simple enough to clean and totally worth the minimal effort because their flavor profile is robust and multi-layered.