Chicken noodle soup and minestrone are great, but there are few things more crave-worthy than a creamy, rich, and hearty soup. Of course, the ingredients that make those soups so tasty—cream, butter, cheese, beef—are not always high on our list of healthy ingredients, or you might follow a vegan diet. But that doesn’t mean you…
Chicken noodle soup and minestrone are great, but there are few things more crave-worthy than a creamy, rich, and hearty soup. Of course, the ingredients that make those soups so tasty—cream, butter, cheese, beef—are not always high on our list of healthy ingredients, or you might follow a vegan diet. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have a comfort food-style soups without lots of extra work or processed ingredients. Try a few of these techniques to make any of your favorite plant-forward soups a little creamy and super cozy.
Choose Naturally Creamy IngredientsIn place off rouxs or heavy cream, there are many plant-based ingredients that, when hydrated or cooked and then blended, are rich and creamy just lik dairy. Soak 1 cup of raw cashews in water overnight (or, in a pinch, boil the cashews in water for about 15 minutes). Blend cashews with just enough water to facilitate the processing until they are smooth and creamy, adding water a little bit at a time until it’s the consistency of yogurt. Add this to your soup in place of heavy cream for a neutral-flavored addition. You can also blend cooked cauliflower or white beans just like the cashews, and add them to your soup. Cauliflower in particular will add a lot of flavor, so keep that in mind when choosing other ingredients.
Color = FlavorOften, creamy soup recipes will include a step to sauté (or sweat) the aromatic vegetable ingredients, but for a plant-forward version, you may choose to cook those ingredients longer. When we let onions, carrots, or other veggies brown, they develop sweetness and richness that will be surprisingly impactful in the finished soup. Instead of sautéing your veggies for about 5 minutes, let them cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 to 20 minutes, until they are golden brown all over. This will create fond at the bottom of the pot, so be sure to scrape up the brown bits when you add your liquid.
Fake It!For a cheese-free broccoli (or any other veggie) soup, add a chopped peeled potato and a few chopped carrots to your soup as it cooks. After you purée the mixture (hold back some broccoli florets if you like it a little chunky), the soup will be creamy and a little yellow from the carrots. Your brain will see cheese, and your taste buds will play along. Sometimes, the perception of richness is enough to make an already-delicious soup better. The easiest and probably least expensive way to achieve this is with a basic pure-starch slurry. Use less than you might to thicken a stew or sauce, adding a little bit at a time. While this won’t add flavor, the extra body will make a broth feel like it’s full of high-fat, collagen-rich ingredients.
UmamiThis isn’t a cream soup trick per se, but for a vegan soups and stews, add a splash of soy sauce or tamari to your soup base. The salty, umami flavor will add a distinct richness that we often rely on beef broth to achieve. Try it in French onion soup! Other umami (or, savory) ingredients include dried mushrooms or dried mushroom powder, miso, and tomato paste.
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