Total time: 35 minutes || Active time: 20 minutes
I’m always going on and on about vegan creaminess, so here I go again. Usually creamy texture is brought to us in the form of delicious fatty vehicles like cashews, tahini and avocado. Instead, here is an almost fat-free method that might not pack the decadent punch of a cashew based cream but gets you there all the same.
Cauliflower is pureed with a few other veggies and lots of basil until silky smooth. It’s actually a wonderful soup on its own, but bulked up with a pillowy gnocchi, white beans and wilted greens it becomes a meal unto itself.
I used Rising Moon Gnocchi (it’s not on their site for some reason) but there are lots of vegan gnocchis out there and if you’ve got Vegan With A Vengeance you can even make your own. I mean, you can use whatever cookbook you’d like to make your own, I’m just saying.
And keep this a secret, but the soup base on its own makes a great pasta sauce the next day, even without the basil. So if you don’t have all of these ingredients on hand right this second, definitely keep the cauliflower base in the back of your mind for the next time you’ve got a few florets impatiently starting back at you.
2 teaspoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small head cauliflower (about a pound), leaves removed, cut into florettes
4 cups vegetable broth, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
Big pinch dried thyme
Lots of fresh black pepper
1 tablespoon arrowroot or cornstarch
1 cup loosely packed basil leaves, plus a little extra for garnish
8 oz frozen gnocchi, partially thawed (leave on the counter for 30 minutes or so)
1 15 oz can navy beans, rinsed and drained
1 small bunch swiss chard, stems discarded, leaves torn into bite-sized pieces
Optional: I didn’t add them here, but toasted pine nuts would make a great garnish.
Preheat a 4 quart stock pot over medium heat. Saute garlic in olive oil for about a minute, being careful not to let it burn. Add cauliflower, 3 cups of broth (alert! only 3 of the cups! you’ll be adding the last cup in a bit), salt, thyme and several dashes fresh black pepper. Cover pot and bring to a boil, stirring every now and again for about 10 minutes, or until cauliflower is tender.
Vigorously mix together the final cup of broth and the arrowroot until dissolved. Lower heat a bit so that the soup is at a slow boil. Mix in the broth/arrowroot and cook uncovered for another 5 minutes until slightly thickened. stirring often. Add the basil leaves, and remove from heat. Use a submersion blender to puree until smooth*. Taste for salt and seasoning.
Return to the stove over medium heat and add the gnocchi, cover and let cook for 3 minutes or so. Add the greens and beans and cook until greens are completely wilted and beans are heated through, about 5 more minutes. Be careful as you stir not to crush the gnocchi or beans. Serve garnished with extra basil and pine nuts, if you like.
*If you don’t have a submersion blender (GET ONE!) then use a blender or food processor to puree in batches, being careful to lift the lid once in awhile so that the steam doesn’t build up and explode.
I tried this over the summer and it was fantastic. Thank you for teaching me the myriad uses for pesto. It’s one of my favorite things but I only ever put it on pasta. I feel like Dumbledore revealed to me the twelve uses of dragon’s blood, but with basil.
Marti Miller Hall (Tofu Mom)
Made this last night and it was PERFECT. Completely perfect. I didn’t have greens to add at the last – an unheard of event in this household, but it was still super delicious and creamy and good.
I make tons of homemade pesto and freeze it every summer with a basil/arugula/spinach/kale blend of greens from my garden and now I have yet one more use for my stash of frozen pesto. Pesto soup, who knew?
I’m thinking about doing homemade gnocchi next time if I have the time, because it ‘s super-simple (and storebought is sometimes out of my budget) I just happened to have some on hand this time though and it was an awesome use for it.
I’m already thinking of variations… adding carrots or spring peas or leeks or….
This is my favorite soup recipe. I make it all the time, and variations of it. Right now I have a pot on the stove that used frozen cubed basil instead of fresh basil and diced potatoes instead of gnocchi. Still so good!
Love, love love this soup! Cauliflower puree as a base for a cream soup is sheer brilliance! So smooth, so silky, never grainy like a potato puree.
I will just say I like my greens cooked more than 5 minutes, unless it’s the really delicate ones like spinach. I’m not a big chard fan, so I did it with kale, and to make sure the kale would be cooked to my liking without overcooking the soup, I pre-steamed the kale for 15-20 minutes.
I absolutely love LOVE this recipe, but it never quite looks like yours! It doesn’t really turn out as a soup, and it’s never the lovely green shade yours is!! It’s thicker, and sort of a tan color – any tips? I already adore this recipe, but I’d love to make it look as good as it tastes!!:)
I’ll right away grab your rss as I can’t to find your email subscription link or e-newsletter service.
Do you have any? Kindly allow me recognize in order that I could subscribe.
I made this for lunch today. I didn’t have stock so I used water. Not as great, but still worked. Next time I’ll add the celery, onion, carrot, and stems as an impromptu stock since it all gets blended anyway. No idea how much to chop, but worth a shot since we never have stock on hand. Other than that little hitch, it was so good I had 3 bowls (6 cups total….who’s a pig? This gal!)
My sister and I are huge fans of yours. We’ve started a new tradition to try one of your recipes a week. Have yet to find a dud 🙂
I had the last of this today for lunch and I’m actually sad that it’s all gone! This is my new favorite soup. I couldn’t find canned navy beans, so I cooked up dried beans while I was prepping everything. I actually think the home cooked beans made it even better. My boyfriend think’s I’m a good cook, and it’s all thanks to Isa! 🙂
made this last night, it was delicious. Even though it is not soup weather it was liked by all the fam!
What would you recommend cutting out if you wanted to use premade pesto instead of basil/other raw ingredients?
I made this for lunch today, it’s delicious!! Thanks for the recipe. The creamy/basil/gnocchi combo is fantastic! I substituted the swiss chard for kale, and would recommend steaming it before adding it to the soup if you like a softer texture.
Omg, what a wonderful soup! Creamy, but light, delicately seasoned with basil. I used cannellini beans as I did not have the navy beans. I will be making this recipe again and again! THanks so much!!
This soup is awesome!! I made my own gnocci for the first time ( I ate it for 3 days!!) I made your pesto soup from one of your other recipe books but the gnocci and chickpeas make it really filling.
Next soup to try is your neep and split pea! I am loving your new book.
THIS was YUMMY on a cool spring day, and produce shop had orange cauliflower, so it was a very pleasing color. SO GOOD to gain creaminess from the puree, not fat.
Served with toasted pine nuts, really nice, & even my husband really liked this one. Leftovers especially nice, thicker.
I made this for my study group tonight and everyone LOVED it! I think this got the best response of almost anything I’ve made for them in the past 4 years. Definitely recommend it!
Amazing, thanks Isa. Certainly delivers on the creaminess. Could be my new favorite soup!
My “Isa Does It”, “Vegan Brunch” and 20+ years worth of recipes disappeared somewhere from point A to point B. Long story, but my family is sick of me complaining about it. After making this, plus another dozen or so killer recipes from Isa Does It, I wanted to make it again. The first time, I didn’t let the cauliflower roast long enough and the result was a soup that didn’t blend well enough. The second time, I roasted it for much longer and it was perfect. Rockin’. So incredibly good. And I’m an omnivore. I’m an omni who is stretching her taste buds and is grateful to have found this recipe again here. Pesto Gnocchi…it’s what’s for dinner!
I made this tonight and it was so delicious. I changed a couple things but pretty much stuck with the recipe. I used 16oz of gnocchi instead of 8 and I used an extra cup of veggie broth at the end to make the base a little thinner and I used a LARGE cauliflower head instead of a small one.
Thanks for the recipe, I will have to make this again.
OMG I made this tonight and it is awesome!! I saw it, and it’s August 5, my air conditioner is broken, and I still craved it haha!! Glad I gave it a shot–will be REALLY good in January 🙂
This was yummy! I used butter beans instead of navy as thats all i had in and added a bit of chilli – absolutely gorgeous Recipe – Thank you 🙂 x
This is SO GOOD! I didn’t have any pine nuts, but agree they would be a great addition.
One of my FAVORITE soups. Its wonderful now at the end of summer when my Chard is growing like a week and my Basil as well. I’ve made this many times …. love it, love it, love it
heck a recipe
Made this tonight and it was good. I did a couple changes though! I used kale instead of chard because that’s what I had on hand. I also blended the greens with the soup and added a squeeze of fresh lemon at the end. I made a few crunchy sprouted-bread croutons to go on top for texture. Will add this to my soup rotation this fall/winter 🙂
Wow this was very good!!! I followed the recipe exactly but 12 oz of gluten free gnocchi (Caesars brand) kudos to reviewer “Sarah” who says to sauté the extra chard stems in garlic n olive oil then add some water and cover to cook. I did just that! I’ve never eaten them before and had a beet-like taste. Delish.
Thank you Isa for making my vegan (gluten-free-ish) life worth living once again.
I love this food.
This soup is the best, everyone in our household loves it. We blend the swiss chard into the soup so our kiddo eats it up!
I made this recipe when I first bought this book when it came out and, now that items verifiably winter, it’s time for soup-making in the kitchen, so I stocked up on the indgredients to make this soup last night. I completely forgot that I didn’t have a blender. I minced the cauliflower and basil and the soup turned out AMAZING! It was still thick, but slightly chunky and not creamy, but just as good!
This was an excellent recipe! I love this soup and base, I will definitely be experimenting with it! Totally amazing how creamy it gets! Thank you so much for sharing!