This is Chef AJ’s first column for The Beet. We admire Chef AJ and all that she has accomplished including her inspiring story of how she lost 100 pounds on a plant-based diet and now helps others live healthier and plant-based as well. Read the story of her health journey. Here is her column, which will appear regularly, called Chef AJ on The Beet.

I absolutely love living in the desert, but the last thing I want when it’s in the triple digits outside is hot soup. That's why I am so thankful for fall and the cooler weather when I can make easy one-pot, no-fuss meals in the Instant Pot. Please don’t be afraid of pressure cooking, it’s the fastest way to get healthy meals on the table.

This recipe is not only one of my very favorite soups, but also one of the recipes that I get the most compliments on. It not only tastes delicious, but it’s also super easy to make because you literally throw everything into the pressure cooker whole, without even having to cut anything up! Even my husband, Charles can make it and it’s a great way to sneak in more vegetables.

When I lived in Los Angeles, I volunteered to teach vegan cooking to blind students at the Braille Institute. When I discovered cooking methods like this that were easier for the blind, I realized they would be easier for those with sight as well.  So much time is saved not having to cut anything up.

Do try to get the white sweet potatoes if you can, because they are extra creamy and delicious. They are often labeled as Hannah Yams or Jersey Yams and have beige skin with an off-white inside. The traditional orange sweet potatoes will work too but then your bisque will be orange.

Creamy Cauliflower Bisque

Putting the sweet potatoes and head of cauliflower in whole saves on prep time, plus the green leaves of the cauliflower are not only edible but also healthy and delicious.


  • 1 head whole cauliflower, about 2 pounds
  • 2 pounds of Hannah yams (white sweet potatoes)
  • 6 cups no-sodium vegetable broth or water
  • 1 large sweet onion, peeled but left whole
  • 8 cloves garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons dried dill
  • 2 Tablespoons Benson’s Table Tasty (or your favorite salt-free seasoning)
  • 1 Tablespoon SMOKED paprika (different than regular paprika)
  • ¼ teaspoon chipotle powder
  • 4 Tablespoons Westbrae salt-free stone-ground mustard
  • 4 Tablespoons nutritional yeast (optional)
  • 3 cups unsweetened non-dairy milk (I prefer cashew milk)
  • Croutons for garnish


  1. Place all ingredients except for the non-dairy milk, mustard, and nutritional yeast, if using, in an Instant Pot pressure cooker and cook on high pressure for 10 minutes.
  2. Release pressure and add the non-dairy milk, mustard, and nutritional yeast (if using).
  3. Purée the soup with an immersion blender right in the pot, or carefully in a blender, until smooth.

Chef's Note:

I like to garnish the dish with fresh arugula and a bit of Fresh Pico de Gallo (recipe below) and serve it over brown, black, red, or wild rice. You can also use frozen vegetables in the soup if you prefer or even substitute broccoli for the cauliflower. This recipe is very versatile and very forgiving. This soup freezes very well. Always let your food cool completely before putting it into the freezer.

You can also find delicious salt-free seasonings or use salt and or black pepper to taste.

Fresh Pico de Gallo


  • 3 firm Roma tomatoes
  • 1 jalapeño pepper
  • 1 shallot
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 lime
  • Chopped cilantro, to taste


  1. Cut tomatoes in half, squeeze out extra juice and seeds and then dice.  Place in a bowl and add the lime juice.  Dice the shallots and garlic and add to the tomatoes.
  2. Finely dice the jalapeño, removing the seeds if you would like it less hot.  Add to the tomatoes.  Season with chopped cilantro and stir.


Sometimes, I will add a finely diced red bell pepper.

Follow Chef AJ on YouTube to learn more about the health benefits of a plant-based diet.

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