One of my kids is lactose intolerant, but unfortunately, loves dairy. And although she’s generally a great eater, she does have a few less-than-healthy cravings that make the doctor that I am cringe. One example? Broccoli cheddar soup, which is often orange and goopy, besides being very salty.
So I was very excited to come upon this recipe from One Ingredient Chef, which I’ve modified slightly. This simple recipe achieves convincing dairy-like creaminess with two hardy ingredients in the vegan arsenal: cashew cream and nutritional yeast. For those of you who are unfamiliar, cashew cream is made by pureeing soaked, raw cashews with water, and is a great stand-in for whipped cream or creme fraiche. Nutritional yeast is a great source of vitamin B12, which is often deficient in the vegan diet, and has a taste and appearance that mimics grated parmesan.
As you may know, I eat mainly plant-based but am an omnivore. Whenever possible, I enjoy coming upon plant based substitutes for non-plantbased ingredients, because of the health benefits of a plant based diet and also for variety and as a culinary challenge. This soup was a big hit in my house and everyone was surprised when I revealed that it was vegan. That was fun.
“You Won’t Believe It’s Not Cheesy” Potato Broccoli Soup
2 large white potatoes
4 cups vegetable broth
1 large white onion, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
1/2 cup white wine or water
Sea salt, to taste
White pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 cup raw cashews
3 cups broccoli florets, about 1/2 inch
Chives, for garnish
Smoked paprika, for garnish
Prep: soak the cashews for at least an hour to soften before blending them into cashew cream.
- Pour vegetable broth into a stock pot and bring to a simmer.
Peel and grate the potatoes and then add into the broth and bring to a low boil. Stir often so that the potatoes don’t stick to the pot.
- In another, large stockpot, add the diced onion and celery, the white wine or water, the dried thyme and oregano, salt, and a few dashes of white pepper. Allow the onions and celery to soften and turn translucent (about 10 minutes) while the potatoes continue to cook separately in the broth. Stir frequently, and turn off and set aside when vegetables are soft.
- While the two pots are bubbling away, drain the cashews and add them to a blender with about 1/2 cup water, and blend until smooth. Then, pour this cashew cream into the large pot with the cooked onions and celery and also transfer the broth and potatoes into the large pot at this point along with about 1/4 cup nutritional yeast. Give this 4-5 minutes to simmer until the all the vegetables are quite soft.
- Take off the heat and use an immersion/stick blender to blend until smooth. (If you don’t have one, carefully blend in batches in a blender.) Once blended, return to the pot and add broccoli florets. Simmer for another 15 minutes until the broccoli softens and the potatoes become fully cooked. Taste and adjust salt, pepper and herbs.
- Serve in bowls with a sprinkling of smoked paprika and diced chives.
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