Cheesy vegan broccoli soup using nutritional yeast in place of cheese. The lemon juice and allspice separates this broccoli soup from the pack.
I’m a sucker for broccoli soup. I try almost every version I see. Some have hidden secret ingredients like apples (which worked amazingly well!), while many are more straight forward versions puréed with cream.
A few instruct the cook to roast the broccoli first to bring up the flavor, and some have you simmer it until tender. My favorite broccoli soups include tomatoes in some form. I’ve read that tomatoes and broccoli eaten together yield powerful health benefits, but they provide equally powerful flavor benefits in my book.
And I like cheese. A lot. I’m sure you know what a great soup broccoli and cheddar can be. But along with creamy, melty yumminess, cheese also brings extra calories. And while I’m a wimpy vegetarian, for those who are vegetarian – many cheeses are made with animal rennet. Especially hard cheeses.
Enter nutritional yeast. I’ve been experimenting with nutritional yeast for a few months now and love the umami flavor it adds to a dish – reminiscent of cheese. And it’s incredibly healthy, which you’ll see if you follow the above link. I sprinkle the flakes over roasted vegetables with great success, especially broccolini, so it was a no-brainer to use some in a broccoli soup.
I’m not going to lie. It doesn’t give you the creamy, luscious experience of cheddar. Nutritional yeast doesn’t yield that much texture, and it has its own flavor – think cheesy earthiness. Regardless, it turns out it makes a fantastic bowl of broccoli soup.
- The cooking technique I used for the broccoli was a cross between pan roasting and sautéing. Pieces of broccoli along with some garlic are placed in a sauté pan over very low heat with a lot of olive oil (this is a great way to cook fish too, by the way). Put a lid on the pan and let the broccoli melt into the oil for about an hour. At the end, the garlic is tender, and the broccoli is soft enough to press down with a spoon.
- I like Red Star nutritional yeast. Look for it in the supplements section of your grocery store.
- I received a jar of Trader Joe’s Trader Giotto’s Bruschetta topping as part of a gift last fall and have found ways to use it way beyond just bruscetta. If you don’t have any, roast up a pint of cherry tomatoes and 1 yellow onion, coarsely chop, and add 1/2 cup to the soup. One of my readers who tried it used sun dried tomatoes in place of roasted tomatoes – and it worked really well for them.
- Don’t ignore the allspice – it makes a HUGE difference by pulling together all the flavors in a surprising way. I you don’t have any, you can substitute 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg.
Top the soup with fried pancetta crumbles, but stick with the nutritional yeast for the cheese substitute.
Vegan Broccoli, Lemon and 'Cheese' Soup
- 2 pounds broccoli trimmed and cut into 1 - 2” pieces
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- ¼ cup spring garlic peeled and minced (or 5 cloves of regular garlic)
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- A few twists of freshly ground pepper
- 4 cups homemade vegetable broth
- ½ cup Trader Joe's Trader Giotto's Bruschetta
- 3/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 3/8 tsp ground allspice
- Juice from 1/4 lemon to taste
- Crusty bread
- Bring a large, heavy pot filled with a few inches of salted water to a boil. Add the broccoli pieces and boil for five minutes. Drain well.
- Add the olive oil and garlic to a wide pan like a braiser over medium heat. After a minute or two, when the garlic starts to soften and turn golden, add the broccoli, season with salt and pepper, and toss together.
- Cover the pot, turn the heat down as low as it will go, and cook for about an hour, stirring occasionally, until the broccoli is soft enough that it yields when you press it with the back of a wooden spoon (it may brown a little during this process -- this is a good thing).
- Add the vegetable broth, lemon and Bruschetta topping, and return to a boil over medium-high heat. Simmer for 5 minutes.
- Using a submersible blender, puree roughly half of the soup - there should still be a fair number of bite-sized pieces of broccoli.
- Stir in the nutritional yeast, allspice, and lemon juice. Adjust for additional salt and lemon if needed.
- Serve piping hot with a hunk of crusty bread.