Add the onion, garlic, red pepper and jalapenos to your food processor and pulse until very finely chopped.
In a large sauce pot, add the butter or margarine if using, and melt over medium heat. (Or use water or broth if avoiding oil.) Then add the finely chopped veggies you just processed to the pot and sauté for 5-7 minutes, until softened and reduced.
Meanwhile, add the cauliflower to the same processor and pulse until broken down, without over processing or pureeing. You want some chunkier pieces. Work in batches if needed.
Add the processed cauliflower, along with the broth and corn to the pot and mix well. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to medium low and simmer for 15 minutes.
While the soup is simmering, prepare your vegan cheese sauce. Add all the ingredients to a high speed blender and process until smooth.
Turn off the heat, pour in the cheese sauce and mix well. Taste for salt and pepper and add more if necessary. Then serve garnished with jalapeno slices, if desired.
Adjust the spice level to your preference. We like ours very spicy, but if you want a more subtle spice, use less jalapenos, and remove the seeds for an even milder level of spiciness.Adjust the seasoning. Always season to your taste. Just because a recipe calls for half a teaspoon of salt, feel free to adjust. If you want added smoky flavour, up the smoked paprika as well.Make it oil free. Omit the butter or margarine and sauté using water or broth instead.For nut free. You may sub the cashews with sunflower seeds, with similar results. Cashews provide a little more richness, but if you can't have cashews, sunflower seeds make a good substitution.For corn free. You may simply omit the corn or replace it with some diced carrots to add some colour and a touch of sweetness.Soak the cashews. If you don't have a high speed blender like a Vitamix or Blendtec, soak your cashews first. Soak them in boiling hot water from a kettle or on stove top and soak them for 30 minutes. Then drain and use. Soaking the cashews makes them soften up and allows a less powerful blender to process them.Do not over process the cauliflower. Work in batches if needed to prevent the cauliflower from turning to mush. You want some nice hearty texture here.Want a smooth soup instead? Don't bother with your food processor, just roughly chop everything. Cook as directed, and then use an immersion or stick blender to puree your soup before adding in the vegan cheese sauce.Leftovers keep refrigerated for 3-4 days, just store in an airtight container, then reheat and enjoy.