This post was originally posted in January 2020 and sponsored in partnership with NOW Foods. All opinions expressed (as always) are my own. I only partner with brands I trust and personally recommend – thank you for your support in helping make Eat the Gains possible!
Vegan broccoli cheese soup! It might sound like an oxymoron, but you can have vegan and cheese together in the same recipe. I promise!
This healthy broccoli cheese soup is made from a thick and creamy “cheese broth” consisting of blended cashews, coconut milk, broth, and nutritional yeast. The nutritional yeast gives it a cheesy flavor without any heavy cream, dairy, or flour. Additionally, coconut milk and cashews give it lots of healthy fats, filling you up, along with a creamy texture for the broth.
Broccoli can be hard to digest for some as it has high fiber content and the same sugars as beans that make people gassy, so cooking it makes it much easier to digest. And who doesn’t love the broccoli and cheese combo?!
I don’t know about you, but I was never a huge fan of cream-based soups growing up. And as I got older and began to change my diet, the more they didn’t agree with my stomach.
However, there are so many options these days to make healthier comfort foods with good for you ingredients. And that is exactly what I am doing with this healthy broccoli cheese soup. It’s a great alternative to your typical cream and dairy-filled soup.
Plus, this vegan broccoli cheddar soup is so easy to make! You only need 8 ingredients, one pot, and 25 minutes.
Vegan broccoli cheese soup ingredients
- broccoli florets
- coconut milk – adds so much creaminess to the broth and the soup won’t taste like coconut
- vegetable broth
- nutritional yeast – this is the star of the soup and what gives the soup its cheesy taste
- cashews – to help thicken the broth
- salt and pepper
How to make vegan broccoli cheese soup
- Make your cheesy broth. Add the vegetable broth, coconut milk, soaked cashews (make sure to drain them), nutritional yeast, and salt and pepper to a Vitamix or high-powered blender and blend until smooth. Set aside.
- Saute your onions. In a large dutch oven or stockpot, add oil over medium-low heat and let it get hot. Add onions and salt and pepper and saute for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened and golden brown. Then, add garlic and saute for another 1-2 minutes. Add a splash of broth if needed to make sure it doesn’t burn.
- Simmer the veggies. Add broccoli and broth and stir well to combine. Make sure to get the onions off the bottom of the pan so they don’t burn. Cover with a lid and let simmer for 10 minutes or until broccoli is tender.
- Optional – if you want your soup to be even creamier and Panera Bread-esque, you can take an immersion blender and give it a few pulses to break up the broccoli into smaller pieces. Be careful not to puree it.
- Top with some toppings. I love green onions, red pepper flakes, and hot sauce!
How to soak cashews
Soaked cashews are one of my favorite ways to make thick soups and sauces. I suggest raw cashews and love NOW Foods as they are non-GMO and have a rich and buttery flavor.
To soak cashews, place cashews in a bowl and cover with water. Let soak overnight. If you are in a bind (or forgot), place them in a bowl, cover with water, and microwave for 1-2 minutes until soft (check after one minute). When you are ready to use them, drain the water (you can also rinse them) and use them according to your recipe.
What is nutritional yeast?
You might see nutritional yeast and be wondering what exactly it is. Nutritional yeast is a vegetarian and vegan supplement made from deactivated yeast. It comes in the form of yellow flakes or powder, is rich in vitamin B12 and protein, and has a slightly cheesy and nutty flavor. I usually use this brand.
How do you fix grainy broccoli cheese soup?
If your vegan broccoli cheese soup is has a grainy texture, it’s because you didn’t blend the cashews and broth enough. Unfortunately, after you add the broth mixture to the pan, you can’t fix the issue. To make sure this doesn’t happen, make sure to use a high-powered blender and blend until smooth and creamy.
What do you serve with broccoli soup?
Here are a few options to serve this soup with it:
- salad – soup and salad are the best!
- crusty bread to soak up all the delicious cheesy broth
In addition, if you want more protein, here are a few suggestions:
- shredded chicken
- ground turkey or sausage (beef, pork, turkey)
- scoop or two of collagen
- chickpeas, beans, or lentils – a great option if you want to keep it plant-based
Can I freeze broccoli and cheese soup?
It will last in the fridge for 5 days in an airtight container.
To freeze, let the broccoli and cheese soup cool completely. Pour into glass jars (I love these weck jars). Leave about an inch of space at the top between the soup and the lid so it has room to expand. Place in the freezer and when you are ready to eat, let defrost in the fridge or in the sink for a few hours. Then just heat in a small saucepan or the microwave.
It should last in the freezer for 3 months.
Substitutions or additions
- coconut milk – any non-dairy milk (almond milk, cashew milk, oat milk, lite coconut milk…) will work, but since full-fat coconut milk is so thick, it really helps give this soup a thick and creamy texture.
- vegetable broth – any kind of broth will work (chicken, beef…). Bone broth will also work and add more protein to the recipe. It will no longer be vegan if using an animal-based broth.
- nutritional yeast – unfortunately, there is no sub for nutritional yeast how the recipe is written
- cashews – I like cashews for this soup as the flavor is neutral and they blend well once soaked. If you can’t have nuts, you can try sunflower seeds, but it will change the texture.
- veggies – the more the merrier! Potatoes, carrots, or bell peppers would all be great additions. Make sure to dice them into bite-sized pieces so they cook evenly with the broccoli.
More vegan soup recipes
- Buffalo Cauliflower Potato Soup
- Coconut Curry Lentil Soup
- Curried Butternut Squash Soup
- Roasted Red Pepper & Squash Soup
Vegan Broccoli Cheese Soup
- 1 tablespoon avocado oil
- 1 1/2 cups diced onion (180 grams)
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 cups vegetable broth (or any broth you like)
- 1 can (13.5 fluid oz) full fat coconut milk (1 1/2 cups)
- 1 cup raw cashews, soaked*
- 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
- 6 cups broccoli florets (375 grams)
- salt and pepper, to taste
- for topping: chopped green onions, red pepper flakes, pepper
- Add the vegetable broth, coconut milk, cashews (make sure to drain them), nutritional yeast, and salt and pepper to a Vitamix or high powered blender and blend until smooth. Set aside.
- In a large dutch oven or stock pot, add oil over medium-low heat and let it get hot, about 30 seconds. Add onions and salt and pepper and saute for 5 minutes, stirring occassionally, until softened and golden brown. Add garlic and saute for another 1-2 minutes. Add a splash of broth if needed to make sure it doesn't burn.
- Add broccoli and cheesy broth and mix well to combine. Make sure to get the onions off the bottom of the pan so they don't burn. Cover with a lid and let simmer for 10 minutes or until broccoli is cooked to your liking.
- Top with toppings and enjoy!
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