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Stefanie Sacks's cauliflower cheese soup

Stefanie Sacks’s cauliflower cheese soup. (Photo credit: Doug Young)

Hearty, colorful, abundant and inexpensive, local Long Island cauliflower is a fall staple. (Photo credit: Doug Young)

Long Island cauliflower, whether white, orange or purple, heralds in the arrival of autumn at local farm stands. Nutrient-dense, they can adapt to being roasted, mashed, riced or even grilled as a meaty-style veggie option. Rumor has it that even chef James Beard once said the best cauliflower is grown on the sandy soils of eastern Long Island.

“Cauliflower is one of my ingredient essentials,” says Stefanie Sacks, a nationally recognized culinary nutritionist, author, educator and speaker, “mostly because of its versatility.”

All these reasons to celebrate this local, cruciferous veggie might not convince the family skeptics.

Sacks’s appealing answer: Add cheese and puree it into a silky smooth soup.

Since most people love cooking with fewer ingredients and dishes, this one-pot wonder (with the aid of a high-speed blender or immersion blender) is an “adopted foundation” for many of Sacks’s recipes. Her book What the Fork Are You Eating? is an essential guide for anyone who wants to make small or significant changes in their diet for optimal health.

Sacks demonstrates that prepping cauliflower is a quick and easy task. (Photo credit: Doug Young)

Start with sourcing for the main ingredient. “I live in Montauk,” says Sacks, “so I frequent Balsam Farms Montauk Market or Vicki’s Veggies in Amagansett for cauliflower.” Substituting broccoli or zucchini is another delicious option, explains Saks. “The secret is the ratio of vegetables to water, the cheese and the blender’s power!”

Dairy-free alternative? Sacks recommends Violife Shreds for those who are vegan or have dairy allergies. “Their alternative cheese is superior in flavor and culinary properties.”

With all these feel-good reasons to try this recipe, don’t forget to keep its simplistic approach in mind.

“People are often discouraged from cooking because they lack time,” explains Sacks, the founder of WTFORK — the No B.S. Roadmap to Healthier Choices, the member-driven digital culinary course site for home cooks. “I make healthy cooking straightforward with an incredibly delicious and nutritious spin!”

Since soup is best shared, make it memorable by artfully arranging roasted cauliflower florets as a garnish to each bowl. Simply reserve a few florets with stems, toss with olive, vegetable or sesame oil and salt and pepper, and roast on a cookie sheet at 400° F for about 20 minutes.

We here at Southforker also permit you to add some oven-browned or air-fried sourdough croutons and a drizzle of olive oil — because, yum.

Top with a smattering of fresh thyme leaves or a few small roasted florets. (Photo credit: Doug Young)

Stefanie Sacks’s cauliflower and cheese soup

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes


  • 1 large head cauliflower, cut into chunks
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 tsp salt, plus more to taste
  • freshly ground pepper to taste


  • In a medium pot or Dutch oven, combine the cauliflower, water and onion. Cook, covered, over medium heat until the cauliflower is tender, 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Let the soup cool slightly, then place it in a blender with the cheese and a half teaspoon of the salt. Purée until smooth and creamy. (Bring the speed up slowly for best results.)
  • Carefully remove lid and return the soup to the pot. Over low heat, warm through and add more salt and pepper to taste. 
  • Garnish with a sprig of thyme or pan-roasted cauliflower florets.