Healthy soup recipe: Dairy-free broccoli and 'cheese'

Growing up, I was never a fan of cream of broccoli, chicken, or mushroom canned soups. I preferred soup that didn’t come out in a single lump and clear broths such as vegetable soup were more my style.

Angela Liddon

Growing up, I was never a fan of cream of broccoli, chicken or mushroom canned soups. I preferred soup that didn’t come out in a single lump and clear broths, such as vegetable soup, were more my style. Tomato soup was a favourite too, especially with a million saltines crumbled over top. The saltines get all mushy and saturated with tomato soup, allowing room for even more crushed saltines. Paired with a grilled cheese, that was just about my most wanted meal as a child.

But while I wasn’t a fan of canned cream of broccoli soup, I will admit a homemade version has always appealed to me. Now that I’m a vegan, I set out to come up with a healthy version free of dairy products, but still with that wonderful cheese-like flavour and I’m happy to report my efforts turned out a delicious soup! Best of all, it packs in over four cups of greens. Now that’s something I can get excited about.

Dairy-free broccoli and “cheese” soup recipe

This is healthy comfort food at its finest. This soup combines my love for broccoli and cheese sauce, while doing without the cream or cheese. The prep is a bit lengthy due to all the chopping, so I suggest using an electric chopper or processor if you want to speed things up. I finished the soup with a sprinkle of smoked paprika and Daiya vegan cheese. Enjoy it with your favourite croutons or perhaps breadsticks for dipping. I didn’t have any croutons so I simply double-toasted bread and spread it with Earth Balance and a sprinkle of garlic powder.

Yields: 4 servings
•   1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
•   1 medium sweet onion, chopped
•   2-3 garlic cloves, minced
•   1 cup chopped celery
•   4-4.5 cups chopped broccoli florets (stems removed)
•   1.5 cups peeled and chopped potatoes (about 3)
•   3 cups vegetable broth, or more if required
•   2 tbsp nutritional yeast (found at Bulk Barn and Loblaws)
•   1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
•   Low-fat vegan cheese sauce, divided (see below for recipe)
•   1/2 tbsp lemon juice (optional)
•   Kosher salt, black pepper and onion powder, to taste
•   1/4 cup fresh minced parsley, plus more to garnish
•   Vegan shredded cheese, to garnish (optional)
•   Smoked paprika, to garnish (optional)

1. In a large skillet, heat the oil, onion and garlic over medium-low heat, stirring frequently. Cook for about 5-6 mins.
2. Add in the celery, broccoli and potatoes and cook for about 5 mins. Now, add the broth, nutritional yeast and cayenne pepper and simmer for another 15 mins or so until the potatoes are just fork tender.
3. Meanwhile, prepare your cheese sauce (see below) while the soup simmers.
4. Carefully transfer the soup (in two batches) into a blender. Blend until almost smooth (I left it a bit chunky, but you can blend as much as you wish) and place back into the pot. Alternatively, you can use an immersion blender. Stir in the cheese sauce, reserving 1/3 cup for later.
5. Stir in optional lemon juice and season with salt, pepper and onion powder to taste. Finally, stir in the minced parsley and spoon into bowls. Top the soup with croutons, optional vegan cheese, the remaining homemade cheese sauce and smoked paprika.

Low-Fat Vegan Cheese Sauce
•   1.5 cup unsweetened, unflavoured almond milk
•   3/4 cup nutritional yeast
•   1 tbsp Earth Balance or other non-dairy buttery spread
•   2 tbsp all purpose flour
•   1 tbsp + 1 tsp Dijon mustard
•   1/2 tsp garlic powder
•   1/2 tsp onion powder
•   1/2 tsp kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
•   1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1. In a skillet or pot, melt the Earth Balance over medium heat.
2. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour and 1/4 cup milk until all clumps are gone.
3. Whisk in the remaining milk (1.25 cups) as well as the milk and flour mixture into the pot. Now whisk in the nutritional yeast. Reduce heat to low-medium.
4. Add Dijon, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper to taste and whisk frequently over low heat until the sauce thickens, for 3-5 mins. Be careful not to burn it. Remove from heat once thick.

Angela Liddon is the creator of Oh She Glows — a popular healthy vegan recipe website receiving over 1.6 million page views a month — and one of Chatelaine‘s Women of the Year 2011. Angela’s passion for healthy vegan food is contagious and she’s eager to show others that vegan (and often gluten-free) food can blow your taste buds away.