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Creamy cauliflower potato soup {Ecuadorian locro de coliflor}

A comforting recipe for a creamy cauliflower potato soup inspired by the classic Ecuadorian locro style soup, made with achiote, onion, garlic, cauliflower, potatoes, milk, cheese and cilantro.

Ecuadorian locro soup with cauliflower

En Español

This creamy cauliflower potato soup is inspired by one of my favorite Ecuadorian soups, locro de papa. Locro de papa is a creamy potato and cheese soup. There are many variations of locro, some of which include corn, chard, fava beans, quinoa, and more. It’s one of those perfect comfort food soups that you crave on a cold rainy day. 

Creamy cauliflower potato soup locro

Personally, I love cauliflower, however, my youngest son isn’t the biggest fan of cauliflower (you should see the face he makes when he sees that I bring it back from the market or grocery store). However, he does enjoy a warm creamy potato locro style soup, so this is one of my ways to get him to eat cauliflower. He knows it has cauliflower. I try to be honest with my kids (even when they were little) about what ingredients are used in a dish. In exchange, they agree to try it and give that ingredient a fair chance – there are a few exceptions (I won’t go into details because it’s not really relevant to this post).

Ingredients for a creamy Ecuadorian locro soup with cauliflower

Like many Ecuadorian soups, this recipe can be easily customized and changed based on your preference. If you prefer a lighter soup and are a cauliflower lover, you can use fewer potatoes and more cauliflower. You can also use different types of cheese based on what you have access to. In Ecuador, we would use a fresh farmers’ style cheese called quesillo or a queso fresco style cheese – or a mix of both. In the US, I would use a mix of queso fresco and mozzarella or monterrey jack (or farmers’ cheese if I had any on hand).

Creamy locro potato cauliflower soup with avocado and cheese

Finding the right cheese for the cauliflower potato locro

Here in Europe, at least in Luxembourg, it’s much more difficult to find queso fresco. As a result, I’ve been using feta, but I’ve tried a few different ones and have found one that is less salty and creamier that works well. I also used grated mozzarella or grated cooking mozzarella as it’s sometimes called here. I recently found a French cheese called Tome Fraiche, which I’m guessing is a younger version of the aged Tomme cheese. It works great, but seems to be quite seasonal – only available in the fall/winter months (and I found it at a store called Grand Frais in case anyone is looking for it). I also tried a young Asiago, called Asiago frais; it looks and reminds me of a slightly aged quesillo lojano cheese (this one I found at Auchan). Occasionally the new Latin grocery store (Mi Tierra) has a variety of queso fresco called queso costeño, which works great for my Ecuadorian soups.

Ecuadorian style potato cauliflower locro soup

Which type of annatto or achiote is best for soups?

 Another ingredient that is sometimes hard to find is achiote or annatto. It’s a small red seed that can be bought in whole seed form, in a ground or powder form, in a paste (usually with other condiments), or infused in oil. Any of those options will work for this recipe. It is mainly used for that light orange/yellow color that it gives the soup. It doesn’t add much flavor so you can omit it if you don’t have it or use a tiny bit of sweet (not smoked) paprika powder as a replacement. In the US I find achiote in all forms, but personally, I prefer to use the ground/powder version or to make my own achiote oil using the seeds. Also, I’ll usually bring back a small jar of paste when I go to Ecuador, as I can find it there without additional condiments.

Creamy cauliflower potato soup with cheese and cilantro

The toppings are a key part of any Ecuadorian soup. For this cauliflower locro I served it topped with avocado, additional chopped cilantro, chopped green onions, extra cheese, and a few small fried/sauteed pieces of cauliflower. You can also serve some hot sauce or aji sauce on the side for those who want a spicy kick. Other popular Ecuadorian soup toppings include popcorn and tostado-style corn nuts.

Serve the cauliflower potato soup with avocado, green onions, cheese, cilantro and fried cauliflower bits
Ecuadorian locro soup with cauliflower

Creamy cauliflower potato soup {Ecuadorian locro de coliflor}

Creamy cauliflower potato soup inspired by the classic Ecuadorian locro style soup. Prepared with achiote, onion, garlic, cauliflower, potatoes, milk, cheese and cilantro.
4.89 from 9 votes
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Course: Soup
Cuisine: Andean, Ecuadorian, Latin American
Keyword: Cauliflower, Comfort food, Creamy soup, Locro, Potatoes
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Servings: 6 to 8 servings


  • 4 tablespoons of achiote oil or butter/oil plus 1 tsp of achiote powder
  • ½ white onion or 3 spring onions white parts only, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves crushed
  • 1-2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 large cauliflower 800-1000 grams, cut into medium chunks – you can save some small pieces to fry/crisp up and use as a garnish (see notes)
  • 4 medium potatoes 500 grams, peeled and cut into medium or large pieces, use Yukon gold in the US or papa chola in Ecuador
  • 4 cups of water ~ 1 liter – can also use vegetable broth
  • 1 cups of milk
  • 250-300 grams of grated or crumbled cheese you can use queso fresco and quesillo, or mix of feta and mozzarella
  • 1 tablespoon of finely chopped cilantro
  • Salt and pepper to taste

To garnish and serve:

  • Chopped cilantro
  • Chopped green onions or chives
  • Avocado sliced or diced
  • Fried cauliflower pieces
  • Additional cheese crumbled/grated or diced
  • Aji style hot sauce


  • To make the achiote oil, add the 4 tablespoons of oil to the pan and 1 tsp of achiote seeds, heat over low medium and stir gently until the seeds release their color into the oil. Use a slotted spoon to remove the all the seeds. If you have achiote powder or ground achiote instead of the seeds, you can just add in the next step
    Use a slotted spoon to remove the achiote seeds from the oil
  • Next make a refrito or sofrito base for the soup with the achiote oil or (regular oil/butter plus achiote powder) add the diced onion, crushed garlic, cumin, salt. Cook over low medium heat until the onions are soft and transparent, about 3 to 5 minutes.
    Making a refrito with achiote oil, onions, garlic, cumin and salt for the potato cauliflower soup
  • Add the cauliflower and potato chunks, mix until well coated by the refrito.
  • Add 4 cups of water or just until the cauliflower/potatoes are barely covered. Bring to a boil and cook (lightly boiling) until the potatoes are tender, about 25-30 minutes.
  • Use a masher to mash the potatoes and cauliflower.
    Use a potato masher to mash the cauliflower and potatoes
  • For a smoother creamier soup, you can also use an immersion blender, but if you prefer it more rustic/chunky then just use the masher.
    You can also use an immersion blender for a creamier smoother texture
  • Add the milk, mix well and cook on low heat for another 5 minutes.
    Add the milk to the cauliflower potato soup
  • You can also add more milk (or water/broth) if the soup is too thick.
  • Add the crumbled cheese and finely chopped cilantro, mix them into the soup. Taste and adjust salt/pepper to your preference.
    Add the queso fresco and grated cheeses, also the cilantro
  • Serve the soup garnished with additional chopped cilantro, chopped green onions and chives, avocado, extra cheese, fried cauliflower pieces, and hot sauce to taste.
    Serve the cauliflower potato soup with avocado, green onions, cheese, cilantro and fried cauliflower bits


To make the fried cauliflower pieces I used the smallest florets/pieces and simply sauteed them will a small amount of oil until golden, then sprinkled a little salt on them. Very simple and easy.
Crispy cauliflower florets for soup topping

Step by step preparation photos for the Ecuadorian cauliflower potato soup:

Step by step preparation for Ecuadorian creamy cauliflower potato locro soup

Other Ecuadorian soups you are going to love:

Quinoa and cheese soup
Quinoa and cheese soup recipe made with quinoa, potatoes, cheese, milk, onions, garlic, cumin, oregano, achiote, and topped with cilantro and avocado.
Check out this recipe
Recipe for quinoa and cheese soup
Locro de papa {Ecuadorian potato and cheese soup}
Recipe for locro de papa or potato soup, a traditional Ecuadorian soup made with potatoes, onion, garlic, cumin, achiote or annatto, milk, cheese and cilantro.
Check out this recipe
Ecuadorian locro de papa or potato soup
Ecuadorian shrimp and corn chowder {Locro}
Easy and quick shrimp and corn chowder recipe with a Latin touch. This soup is inspired by the traditional Ecuadorian locro potato soup and is made with shrimp, corn, potatoes, seafood broth, milk/cream, onion, garlic, celery, annatto, and served with cilantro, green onions, avocado, lime and hot sauce.
Check out this recipe
Shrimp and corn chowder recipe
Pumpkin or squash soup {Sopa de zapallo}
Easy recipe for sopa de zapallo, a delicious homemade pumpkin or squash soup made with squash, onions, garlic, cumin, tomatoes and chicken or vegetable stock. Served with queso freso, feta or goat cheese, and chives.
Check out this recipe
Pumpkin or squash soup recipe
Repe lojano {Green banana/green plantain soup}
Repe lojano is a creamy soup made with green bananas or green plantains, onions, garlic, milk, cheese and cilantro.
Check out this recipe
Green banana soup or green plantain soup
Celery root soup {Sopa de apio nabo}
Easy and quick recipe for celery root soup or cream of celeriac soup, made with potatoes, vegetable broth, garlic, onions, cumin and dill. Served with trio of toppings including crispy pancetta, smoked salmon and roasted pepper yogurt sauce.
Check out this recipe
Celery root soup
Ecuadorian chicken rice soup {Aguado de gallina}
Ecuadorian chicken rice soup or aguado de gallina is a thick soup made with chicken, rice, potatoes, onions, peppers, other vegetables, herbs and spices.
Check out this recipe
Ecuadorian soup with rice and chicken called aguado

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  1. Anoche hice el locro de papas, lamentablemente no tenia todos los ingredientes justos, pero salió bastante bien después de todo. Para la proxima vez hare todo al pie de la letra y estoy segura que quedara aun mejor. Buena suerte en Luxemburg y por supuesto con tu libro de recetas!

  2. Hi Laylita, nice to get your most recent newsletter. I wanted to tell you I had a brilliant idea re your Chicken Chaulafan. I think it’s a terrific recipe that will work as a turkey stuffing or a pilaf. I intend to omit the chicken meat and the eggs, and I’m confident it will be a wonderful side dish for the holidays. In fact, if my sister who is vegan decides to have Christmas at her home this year, I think I could make this dish entirely vegan for her, and I believe it will be delicious. FYI, this summer we enjoyed your excellent Hearts of Palm Ceviche several times. Thanks so much for all your wonderful recipes and ideas.

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