Love and Olive Oil

Creamy Cauliflower Soup with Brown Butter

Creamy Cauliflower Soup with Brown Butter from @loveandoliveoil

I’m not one to wax poetic about soup.

Soup is soup and often quite boring soup at that.

For me, soup is usually a vehicle for eating more bread. Creamy soups at least, I have a hard time eating a bowl without at least a few slices to dip.

But this soup… this soup is worthy of poetic praise.

Be grateful I’m not an aspiring poet, otherwise you very well might find yourself cringing amidst sappy (er, soupy?) sonnets like an episode of the Bachelor gone bad (thank god there were no poets this season is all I’m saying).

Creamy Cauliflower Soup with Brown Butter from @loveandoliveoil

What makes this soup so incredible, what takes it from limerick to lyric? Three words: crispy cauliflower florets. Ok a few more: with brown butter. And a splash of vinegar. Without them this is just another boring, albeit creamy as all get out, cauliflower soup. But with that brown butter drizzle, those crispy florets with a hint of vinegar tang… this soup makes me want to sing (luckily, I’ll spare you that too).

Creamy Cauliflower Soup with Brown Butter from @loveandoliveoil

While the process of making this soup might seem somewhat complicated (Note to self: don’t look at the word “cauliflower” for too long or your eyes will start to go crossed) it actually comes together quite quickly. While the soup is simmering, the remaining florets are cooked to a lush golden brown in a bath of sizzling butter. Believe me that the sheer quantity of butter called for in this recipe is absolutely required, and totally justified once you taste the final product.

Creamy Cauliflower Soup with Brown Butter from @loveandoliveoil

I have to give credit to friend/neighbor Michelle for enlightening me with this recipe; one look at her gorgeous bowl of creamy perfection and I knew I had to make it. And I haven’t stopped making it since. Next time I might try it with a bit of chicken broth instead of all water, just to give the soup base a bit more depth. But other than that it is perfect. Undeniably perfect. And anything but boring.

Creamy Cauliflower Soup with Brown Butter

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  • 1 head (approx. 2 pounds) cauliflower
  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 leek, white and light green parts only, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 small onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • salt & pepper
  • 4 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon white wine or sherry vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons fresh chives, snipped


  1. Trim the cauliflower, removing any green leaves and leaf stems. Remove stem and core; trim and slice into thin pieces.  Cut 1 1/2 cups of small florets and set aside for later. Coarsely cut the rest of cauliflower into thick slices and chunks.
  2. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter into a large saucepan set over medium low heat. Add onion, leek, and a pinch of salt and saute until softened, about 7-10 minutes.
  3. Add water and increase heat to high. Add the half the cauliflower chunks and the stem pieces; bring to a boil, then reduce heat to maintain a simmer. Let simmer gently for 15 minutes, then add other remaining cauliflower chunks and cook for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until cauliflower is crumbly and tender.
  4. Meanwhile, melt the remaining 5 tablespoons of butter in a pan. When butter is melted and frothy, add the reserved florets. Cook over medium heat until the florets and the butter are both browned, stirring occasionally, about 12 to 14 minutes minutes. Transfer the florets with a slotted spoon to a small bowl; toss with vinegar and coarse sea salt. Pour browned butter into a small bowl and set aside.
  5. Ladle soup into blender and puree until smooth (use caution when blending hot liquids). Return soup to the saucepan over medium-low heat until heated through. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Additionally, you may choose to add up to a 1/2 cup more of water if desired for a thinner consistency. To serve, ladle into serving bowls and garnish with florets, snipped chives, and freshly ground black pepper; drizzle with browned butter and serve.

Recipe from Cook’s Illustrated via M’s Belly.

All images and text © / Love & Olive Oil

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  1. I found this recipe a few years ago and have made it quite often. It is, in a word, spectacular. Just how easy it is to make only adds to its legend. EVERYONE I have ever made it for has been blown away and immediately upon finishing their bowl requests the recipe. I lost my copy of the recipe about a year ago. Finding it here has possibly made my life complete. Thank you!

  2. Nice service there are just few who are providing this service great job.

  3. Made this for dinner tonight . Surprisingly hearty. Added salad and toasty buttered rolls. Yummy. I added a dash of 1/2 & 1/2 for a little added creaminess. After blending with my immersion blender, I threw in some diced carrots ( cooked separate) for a little color. Thanks for the recipe!

  4. The richness of flavor in this soup is heavenly and the addition of brown butter was an excellent move, it really elevated the dish.

  5. I never leave comments on these sites but I had to leave one for this soup. WOW… so good. Used low salt chicken stock instead of water. And salted butter (only butter in had).  Delicious! I would advise frying up a few more  cauliflower pieces because it truly makes the soup. 

  6. Love the recipe! Especially the addition of the browned butter and white wine, you can really taste a difference. I added a 1/2-1 cup (depending on size) of parmesan, will definitely be making again. Thanks(:

  7. This looks delicious. I am on my way to the store now to get some chives.. this made me hungry! :)

    Thanks for sharing.

  8. Oh my! This creamy cauliflower soup with brown butter was delicious – and so easy to make! Thanks so much!

  9. Am so glad, you shared this. Finally made this yesterday night and my wife loved it. I’m sooooo happy you made this soup, made me go try it. Thanks for sharing ;)

  10. This creamy cauliflower soup with brown butter looks absolutely fantastic. Beautiful photos, too. I look forward to trying this. Thx for sharing!

  11. So good!! Big hit at the dinner table tonight, as a side to a roast beef dinner. Thank you :)

  12. I’m sooooo happy you made this soup after I saw it on ATK! It’s so easy and I did a recipe review on my blog. I’m crediting your site as well as ATK’s because, well, your site is pretty awesome. :) Thanks again for posting!

  13. I used some homemade veggie broth, added some cumin, extra black pepper, a dash of nutmeg and ginger, and it was not bland at all. Actually didn’t need all the butter to make it taste great! 

  14. Honestly, I did not live this soup. It is very bland and just tastes like mush. The florets add a little bit but overall I was disappointed. My husband agreed. It needs more flavor!

  15. I’ve made this soup about three times since you posted it, so it’s high time I said how marvelous it is! I tend to favor rather spicy cauliflower dishes, so it’s lovely to have a recipe in my repertoire where it can shine for itself. Thank you!

  16. This soup looks absolutely delicious! I love cauliflower, which some may find strange, but there is nothing better than vegetables…crazy, but I love them. The ingredients sound so full of flavor and rich. Thanks for sharing!

  17. I made this tonight – replacing about about 1 1/2 cups of water with chicken broth and it was FABULOUS!

  18. Lovely cauliflower soup!

  19. This soup looks completely amazing! I must try soon!

  20. Oh wow – this looks fantastic! It’s still snowy and cold here in Chicago so a warm soup like this would be perfect. And has the added benefits of veggies too!

  21. Just wanted to let you know I made this today, and the vinegar + brown butter really kicks up what would be on its own a meh cauliflower puree.  I also liked the visual interest of it – and … it’s cheap! I could make this for 6-8 people for a dinner and not break the bank.  I love the photography on your blog but now I know the tastes match it too.  Congrats. 

  22. I have been seeing so many recipes for cauliflower soup but still haven’t tried any out. I will save and share this one to my fb page so I won’t lose it!.  It looks absolutely lovely. 

  23. I think I’ve made this 4 times in the last couple months, so delicious!

  24. Is cauliflower new kale? Hope it is! Love the soup!!!

  25. Brown butter makes everything better, truth! Love the pics too!

  26. I made this soup a few weeks ago. It’s a keeper, for sure. So simple but sooooo good!

  27. This looks amazing Lindsay!  Love those crispy cauliflower florets on top–and the brown butter!  Agh, you’ve convinced me.  I need to eat this very soon. 

  28. I am obsessed with all of these amazing flavors, Lindsay ! So perfect for my healthy eating intentions in 2014 :) Thank you for your ongoing inspiration and sharing it with us!!!

  29. I recently tried cauliflower soup and I won’t lie saying that it came out horrible..gonna try your version soon!! Looks beautiful!

  30. I love cauliflower soup so much! This recipe looks super easy and tasty!

  31. I adore cauliflower, so I think that I’d love this soup! Annnnd by the way, your food photography is just unreal. Seriously beautiful pictures!!

  32. This soup is awesome. I remember running down for tastings when we were developing it at work. And, of course, I made it at home as soon as the recipe came out. Those florets and the sherry vinegar — oh and you know, the brown butter — totally make the soup!

  33. I had the most amazing cauliflower soup at City Bakery – seems to be all the rage! I love the crispy florets on yours.

  34. Soup is totally my excuse for eating more bread! But this looks good enough to eat without a hunk of baguette, and that’s saying something!

  35. Need to try this recipe it looks delicious!

  36. Oh man, crispy cauliflower *and* brown butter together?! Yes. Yes, yes, yes, please

  37. This. looks. AMAZING! I love a good creamy cauliflower soup, and this one with the brown butter sounds soooo yummy!

  38. uh yum!! of course this looks utterly amazing cannot wait to try this! xx. gigi.

  39. Considering I’m at work, a brown butter bath might be a bit innappropriate, but it’s a nice thought to get me through the day!

  40. Thanks for the shout out!  I am still in love with this recipe.  -M

  41. This looks AMAZING!!!! I must make.

  42. I totally disagree about soup! Sure its humble but its not boring – and okay its totally a vehicle for crusty bread. 

    I’m going to give this a try with roasted cauliflower – its like me new favorite thing. 

  43. A BATH of brown butter? You’ve just swept me off my feet! I agree that creamy soups need a heapin’ helping of flavor to be more than just a vehicle for bread, and this dreamy bowl is worthy of standing on its own! Though I might still need a teeeeeny bit of bread… :)

  44. It looks so creamy and delicious!

  45. try using vegetable broth and adding a sprinkle of cumin…  and pecans are great with the brown butter part too.  :)

  46. This sounds aboslutely divine! With the different layers of flavor, I can’t wait to make it!

  47. Love this – cauliflower makes everything so creamy! Definitely think this is worthy of a poem or two ;)

  48. I’ve been loving cauliflower this winter! Now THIS is a great way to jazz it up! So pretty & pinned!

  49. A haiku
    Cauliflower soup:
    Starts with plain ingredients
    Ends with taste bud dance.

    But seriously, this is what I love about cooking. Taking the most humble things and turning them into something stunning for the eyes and the taste buds. Can’t wait to try it!

  50. Yummy! I’ve had a creamy salad made out of deep fried cauliflower and chickpeas before and oh man. Epic. Yes to this soup! 

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