Yesterday I woke up craving Broccoli Cheddar Soup, a demonstration to myself that I’m not vegan at heart yet. Then it occurred to me: aha! a perfect opportunity to create something new.
My first thought was of a book I just purchased, Artisan Vegan Cheese by Myoko Schinner. While I’m very excited to try out some of these recipes, and the results look awesome and tantalize me, it wasn’t going to work for me on this one. The recipes require a curing process, which is probably what makes them good — I’m all for taking time with food — but I wanted Broccoli Cheddar Soup right now. Instant gratification.
My next thought was to check Pinterest, which is where I often do my initial research. Lots of possibilities there. I rejected the soups that use nutritional yeast. In my limited experience, they yield an odd flavor to foods when used to try to imitate cheese, and then a lot of salt is added to try to cover up the flavor.
I have a little bit of a conflict here. My approach to vegetarianism has always been to just make good food, not to try to imitate meat. As a result, I try to avoid adding unusual ingredients for the sole purpose of imitation. Part of me thinks I should use the same philosophy with veganism and cheese, which makes me question the addition of nutritional yeast. It also makes me question why I am trying to make a vegan version of Broccoli Cheddar Soup in the first place, but that is another story. For now, we’ll just say it is human to be contradictory.
Anyway, back to Pinterest. I found two recipes that were virtually the same differing only in the addition of tahina to one and garlic powder to another. The basic idea was to use cooked and pureed carrots and potatoes to mimic cheddar. I made a couple of modifications to the recipe . . . including bringing in some nutritional yeast! Why? Because it occurred to me that nutritional yeast is a seasoning and perhaps the problem was that the recipes I had tried with it just used too much and then had to use too much salt. I wanted to sneak in a little and see what happened. In addition, the soup was good but . . . well, lacked a certain pizzaz. I thought I might see if the nutritional yeast did anything for it if added in a smaller quantity.
The nutritional yeast improved the soup some, but I think if I’m going to use it, I will have to increase the quantity, which I may experiment with next time. I also wonder about adding some lemon along with nutritional yeast. Lemon brightens the flavor of anything and doesn’t have to taste lemony.
On the other hand, it occurs to me that I can use this recipe as a start to create something with a similar mouth feel but that doesn’t really try to imitate cheese. I suspect it could be just as delicious and satisfying and be something in its own right.
What changes will I make next time? I would decrease the salt in the original recipe, might or might not use nutritional yeast or lemon, and might consider some curry powder or fresh ginger. I’ll also make the proportion of carrots smaller so the soup isn’t quite so day-glo, and I think I will use fewer cashews and perhaps add some extra virgin olive oil instead. The soup thickens quickly as it cools slightly, and the olive oil may help that.
I will share here the recipe I used for this soup but will wait to post it in my recipe files until I get it to taste just the way I’d like. It’s a work in progress, as I am!
This recipe makes about four servings.
- Carrots, 2 or 1-2/3 cups
- Potatoes, 2 medium or 1-1/2 cups
- Spanish Onion, 1/2
- Cashews, 1/2 cup
- Water, 3-1/2 cups
- Salt, 2 tsp.
- Nutritional yeast, 2 tsp. (I added this to the recipe this time)
- Hot paprika, 1/2 tsp. (I added this to the recipe this time)
- Broccoli, 3 cups
- Soak the cashews for at least 2-3 hours before making the soup.
- Peel and cut up the potatoes and onion. Rinse and cut up the carrots. Put into a pot with 2-1/2 cups of water, bring to a boil, and simmer with the lid on until soft.
- Cut the stalks off the broccoli. I usually like to cut up the stalks and add to my soup base (the carrots, potatoes and onion) to cook. In this case, I added just a little bit because I was concerned about the color. I might try more next time.
- Steam the small flowerets in the remaining cup of water until just tender. Drain, reserving the cooking water.
- Place the cashews, reserved broccoli cooking water, and seasonings in a Vita-Mix. When the carrot, potato, onion and broccoli stalks are soft, add them to the Vita-Mix as well. Blend well, at least one minute, until smooth.
- Return the cooked broccoli flowerets to the pot, and pour the blended “cheese” mixture over them.
People who are a little afraid of veganism or who prefer standard American foods will like this soup!