“Winter” is here, and I will forever be grateful that a Los Angeles winter and an East Coast winter couldn’t be at more opposite ends of the spectrum. Winter in L.A. means that I can only wear my sandals between the hours of 12 PM – 5 PM, and that’s just the amount of inconvenience that I’ll take during this chilly weather. But, winter does have a couple of benefits – winter means it’s soup season, and this weekend I’m breaking out my big soup pot and diving into my favorite vegan broccoli cheddar soup.
I haven’t had Panera Bread since I was a college youngin’, but the one thing I would always get from there is their decadent broccoli cheddar soup served in a bread bowl. It was seriously my favorite thing, and I may even dream about it a few times a year. I’ll be honest and admit that this vegan cheddar broccoli soup recipe is so, so good but it isn’t an exact copycat for that Panera Bread broccoli cheddar soup because there truly is no comparison, and I’m ok with that…yup, totally ok…
Well, since I do avoid dairy these days I’ve been searching high and low for decent vegan cheese substitutions that don’t make me sad, and I think I finally found it. The secrets to the yummy, cheesy flavor in this vegan soup are the homemade cashew cream, the nutritional yeast, and lots of savory seasonings like Bou For You’s vegan bouillon cubes. This vegan soup makes me not even miss cheese. And that’s saying a lot, considering I could have single-handedly wiped Panera Bread of their broccoli cheddar soup reserves back in the day.
A few other secret weapons that make this soup a slurp above the rest: I added Jamaican dumplings to make it a bit heartier. In Jamaica, they’re more accurately called spinners due to their shape, and we put them in just about every soup and stew as an easy and filling addition.
Secondly, the broccoli. I mean yes, this is vegan broccoli cheddar soup, of course there is going to be broccoli. But the way I make this broccoli happy and not limp is by roasting it in the oven for a few minutes, and then dumping it into the soup at the very, very end so that it doesn’t get all sad and soggy. It’s just the best way to do it, agreed? Agreed.
Soup time, everyone. Dig in!
- 1 c cashews, soaked and drained
- 1 c veggie broth
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- pinch of salt and pepper
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- juice of 1 lemon
- 5 cups veggie broth
- 1 Bou For You veggie cube, broken and mixed with 1 TBS water
- 2 tsp Italian seasoning
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 2 tsp agave syrup
- salt and pepper to taste
- Broccoli florets
- 1 cup flour
- 1/4 c cornmeal
- 1/2 tsp salt
- warm water
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Place broccoli florets in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with foil. Lightly sprinkle with olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper.
Roast in the oven for about 15 minutes, tossing once. You don’t want them to be too browned, just lightly cooked.
Meanwhile, make your cashew cream. Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and blend until completely smooth and creamy. This may take a few minutes. The cream should have a velvety texture when done. Set aside.
Now, heat a tablespoon of oil in a large pot. Add the onions and sauté until caramelized, about 5-10 minutes. Add in the garlic and cook for an additional minute.
Add the lemon juice to the pot and stir to combine. Next, pour in the veggie broth, Bou For You cube, Italian seasoning, nutritional yeast, and agave and whisk until combined.
Add the cashew cream to the pot and stir. Turn the heat up so that it begins to boil lightly.
To make your dumpling spinners: add the flour, cornmeal, and salt together in a medium bowl. Add in warm water as needed, starting with about 1/4 c and kneading it so that it comes together. The dough shouldn’t be too sticky (you may need to add flour to your hands to keep it from sticking together).
Form your dumplings into the spinner shape by pinching off pieces of the dough and rolling it between the palms of your hands so that they look like small torpedoes. Add the dumplings to the soup and let it boil lightly for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally so they don’t stick together.
After about 15 minutes turn off the heat. Dump the roasted broccoli into the soup and stir to combine. Season the soup with salt and pepper, to taste.
Adapted From: Rabbit and Wolves