Creamy Vegan Cauliflower Soup with Spicy Pistachio Pesto

Craving healthy comfort food? Grab a spoon and dive into a bowl of this creamy vegan cauliflower soup topped with a spicy pistachio harissa pesto that will kick your tastebuds into gear. Perfect for soup season or any time of the year!

Creamy Cauliflower Soup w/ Pistachio Harissa Pesto//The Spicy RD #glutenfree #vegan

This vegan potato cauliflower soup is one of my fall/winter go-to’s when I’m craving something light yet filling and packed with a super-duper nutritious punch. Enjoy a one-bowl lunch, or pair it with a side salad and fresh fruit for a nourishing dinner. Even better, make a big ol’ pot of this delicious soup and store leftovers in the freezer for a busy weeknight meal.

It’s customizable too. Can’t take the heat? Leave off the Spicy Pistachio Harissa Pesto and top it off with fresh herbs instead.

(Cauliflower) Soup is Good Food!

You probably know it’s a superstar, low cal, cruciferous vegetable if you’re a cauliflower devotee. Think cancer prevention, weight management rockstar, detox supporter, and all-around health promoter.

Key nutrients in this roasted cauliflower soup include vitamin c for immune health, vitamin K to keep bones strong and healthy, fiber that helps the gut microbiome thrive with all its good bacteria.

In addition, cauliflower contains glucosinolates and sulforaphane (antioxidants) that could slow down cancer cell growth, including breast cancer and prostate cancer. Plus, prebiotic-rich leeks are a tasty way to add more gut-healthy foods to your diet!

Made with wholesome ingredients, this roasted vegan cauliflower soup is anti-inflammatory, gluten-free, dairy-free, and moderately low carb-26 grams per serving. Even better, it’s a deliciously creamy combination of whole, plant-based foods. I promise you won’t miss the heavy cream found in traditional cauliflower soup.

Cauliflower//The Spicy RD
Chopped Leeks//The Spicy RD

Ingredients for this Vegan Cauliflower Soup Recipe

  • Vegetables & Fresh Herbs. Head of cauliflower, potatoes (Yukon Gold or other), leeks, tomato, garlic cloves, cilantro
  • Pistachio Nuts. Or swap with any favorite nuts you have on hand.
  • Kitchen Staples. Olive oil or vegan butter, vegetable broth (I love Imagine Organic Vegetable No-Chicken Broth), salt, and black pepper.
  • Spices. Red pepper flakes, coriander seed, cumin seed, caraway seeds.
  • Optional seasonings and toppings. Lemon juice, fresh parsley, nutritional yeast, fresh thyme, white beans, or crispy roasted chickpeas.

How to Make Spicy Vegan Cauliflower Soup

  1. Prep your veggies. Cut cauliflower into cauliflower florets and potatoes into chunks. Chop leeks and tomatoes.
  2. Roast veggies. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Roast cauliflower and potatoes with a drizzle of olive oil, a pinch of salt, and garlic.
  3. Cook leeks. Saute them in a Dutch oven or large pot over medium heat.
  4. Add liquids. Add vegetable stock to leeks, along with roasted veggies, water, and salt to taste.
  5. Blend. CAREFULLY puree the soup immersion blender or high-speed blender (I love my Vitamix!) until you achieve a creamy consistency. Or, if you like your soup a little chunky, you can serve it that way too!
  6. Make the spicy pesto. This can be made ahead of time and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
  7. Serve. Enjoy this luscious vegan cauliflower soup topped with the pesto, plus additional pistachio nuts, cilantro, and red pepper flakes for garnnish. SO GOOD!!!
Roasted Potatoes and Cauliflower//The Spicy RD

Craving more healthy soup recipes?

All of these healthy soup recipes are gluten-free, plus most of them are vegan as well.

Creamy Cauliflower Soup with Pistachio Harissa Pesto//The Spicy RD
Closeup shot of a bowl of vegan cauliflower soup topped with pistachio nuts and cilantro.

Creamy Cauliflower Soup with Pistachio Harissa Pesto

A yummy healthy soup that is nutrient packed and easy to make!
5 from 2 votes
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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 6 servings


  • 1 head cauliflower, stem removed and cut up {~5 cups}
  • 2 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut up {~3 cups}
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, Divided. 2 tsp to drizzle on vegetables; 1 tsp to saute leeks; 1/4 cup for pesto.
  • 4 cups vegetable broth, i.e. Imagine organic no-chicken broth
  • 2 cups filtered water
  • 2 cups chopped leeks
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt {or to taste}, divided, plus extra for sprinkling on veggies
  • 1/2 cup tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup shelled pistachio nuts, plus extra for garnish
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus extra for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes, plus extra for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon ground corriander seed
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seed
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seed


Make the Soup

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. While oven is heating, prep cauliflower and potatoes, then place them, along with garlic cloves, on a foil lined baking sheet, and drizzle olive oil/sprinkle salt on top. Roast in oven for 30 minutes or until lightly browned.
  • While veggies are roasting, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat, in a large soup pot. Add chopped leeks, and cook until wilted, ~2 minutes. Add broth, water, and 1 teaspoon salt to the pot with leeks. Heat to a boil, then turn the heat down and simmer while potatoes and cauliflower are roasting.
  • Add roasted veggies to soup pot and cook for 5 minutes more, then CAREFULLY place veggies/stock in a blender {do this in batches} and blend until well pureed.

Make the Pesto

  • Toast cumin seed and caraway seed in a pan over medium heat for ~ 5 minutes. Place tomatoes, pistachio nuts, cilantro, 1/4 cup olive oil, red pepper flakes (add gradually to taste), corriander, toasted cumin/caraway seed, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in food processor, and process until a smooth consistency is achieved.

Serve the Soup

  • Place 1 1/2 cups soup in a bowl, then top with 1 tablespoon pesto. Garnish with red pepper flakes, pistachio nuts, and cilantro. Tastes best with pesto stirred in to soup, for a nice spicy, and aromatic kick!


Optional seasonings and toppings. Lemon juice, fresh parsley, nutritional yeast, fresh thyme, white beans, or crispy roasted chickpeas.


Serving: 1.5cups | Calories: 283kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 12g | Sodium: 695mg | Potassium: 900mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 1132IU | Vitamin C: 64mg | Calcium: 81mg | Iron: 3mg
EA Stewart, RD | Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
Course Entree, Soup
Cuisine American, Gluten Free, Mediterranean, MIND Diet, Vegan, Vegetarian
Keyword easy soup recipe
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Recipe Rating


  1. It’s yummy! Soup recipe. I like to serve at birthday party.

  2. EA, I’m making roasted cauliflower parsnip soup tonight and your pistachio harissa pesto is exactly what I need to “spice” it up! Thank you for the inspiration!

    1. So happy you found my pesto recipe Jessica! Your soup combo sounds fabulous! Enjoy 🙂

  3. Ea–Spicy RD,
    I found your post via Google+. Great recipe–I pinned it on my Salads and Soups board.
    Just to let you know–your link does not work on the G+ post. I had to go about it the long way to find the post/recipe. It’s a beauty by the way!

  4. You always have the most innovative, delicious-looking recipes and this soup is no exception! It looks SO good to me – wish I could have a bowl right now!

  5. Wow, your recipes always amaze me. The soup looks fantastic! What beautiful and tasty ingredients! YUM
    Thanks for linking up at our Gluten Free Fridays party! I have tweeted and pinned your entry to our Gluten Free Fridays board on Pinterest! 🙂

    Thanks for linking back to the Gluten Free Fridays post!

    See you at the link up this week! We are having a special giveaway this week! Its a tote bag filled with some Gluten Free Allergy Friendly goodies!

    Cindy from

  6. I don’t even know what to say … Your soup is breathtaking!

  7. EA this looks wonderful!!

    I can’t wait to see how the cauliflower trend plays out, but I’m already loving all the recipes I’m seeing. It’s a veggie that’s way overdue for a makeover 🙂

  8. See, I’m with you – leeks sexy, cauliflower not so much. But dang is this sure a sexy soup!! Adore the pistachio harissa pesto, too – so many possibilites with that!

  9. Bernadette says:

    Yet another delicious recipe. Thanks so much for sharing will be making this for dinner tonight. It is like -23 below with wind chill today so thanks for sharing the warm yummy for my tummy. I never heard of Harissa and I am happy to have learned something new as I always do with your post. Thanks, thanks, thanks.

  10. So glad to see the make-your-own harissa! I was scratching my head wondering where I’d get it. Fantastic photos with this post, too!

  11. i don’t think cauliflower are sexy…maybe it’s coz i don’t really like the way they taste…lol. but, i might change my mind after dining on this soup coz it looks wonderful 🙂

    1. LOL! I may have to agree with you, but hope you try it and change your mind because it is pretty delicious 🙂 Thanks for your comment!

  12. I would say this is sexy soup. I love cauliflower as trendy sort of like if comfy sweats were cool, if only.

    1. If comfy sweats were cool, I would be SO trendy 🙂 Thanks for the sext soup compliment Lauren!

  13. This is such a gorgeous and delicious looking soup!! I find the addition of pistachio quite intriguing. I like to add nuts to recipes, but I’ve never added pistachios before. I’ve also never heard of harissa before either. I’m def going to make the pesto. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Thanks so much Min! The addition of the nuts to the soup was a last minute decision, mainly to make it look prettier 🙂 This was my first time making a pistachio pesto and it really turned out to be delicious with just a hint of sweetness!

  14. I love cauliflower and often make a cauliflower mash.

    Your soup sounds wonderful! Love the addition of the pesto!

    1. Thanks Andrea! Your cauliflower mash sounds delicious too! Is your little guy a fan?

  15. This soup looks just incredible!
    Is it just me or has cauliflower been in the spotlight lately…cauliflower pizza crust, cauliflower mashed potatoes, and now this soup! I love all the fun ways to use up this veggie!

    1. Thanks so much Kristen! And, no, you are not imagining it…cauliflower definitely started trending late 2012. Lots of cauliflower recipes popping up on Pinterest, including a silky cauliflower puree {which my husband also loved and he’s not a huge cauliflower fan} and cauliflower/parmesan breadsticks~definitely on my list to make!

  16. Love the harissa! That is highly original 😀 I will have to try this as I have all the ingredients. Funnily enough just this morning (night time for you a whole 8 time zones away!) I posted about not only soup (Love Your Greens soup) but also food trend. Weird, huh? But of course I was much more snarky and sneery about following trends. I’m so mean! I am pleased that middle Eastern has been promoted, as well as cauliflower. I love cauliflower, and have two massive specimens sitting in my freezing conservatory (it is, this month, my giant walk-in freezer). Lovely soup to do one of them justice.

    1. LO! Love your friendly snark Kellie~I can’t imagine one mean bone in your body at all 🙂 Heading over to check your Love your Greens soup right now. I know it will be delish!

    1. Thanks so much Angie!! Hope you try it and let me know how you like it 🙂