I love a super green soup. One that leaves you feeling healthy yet satisfied as any comforting meal should. And this whole food plant-based broccoli soup is just that, comfort in a bowl of green goodness.
What I love most about this easy vegan broccoli soup recipe is the contrast between the fresh, vibrant green vegetable soup and the creamy cashew sauce.
Instead of using cashews for a creamy vegan soup base, it becomes a topping to create different textures and flavours with each bite.
But you can also stir the cashew cream into the soup before blending to create a creamier soup.
The green broccoli soup base is a mash-up of my two favourite green vegetable soup recipes:
- “Courgette, pea and basil soup” from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Simple, and
- “Green broccoli soup” from One, Pot, Pan, Planet by Anna Jones.
It is the best soup when you yearn for Spring at the end of a long winter.
Broccoli soup ingredients & substitutes
This flavourful soup is a convenient, versatile meal for any day of the week, especially if you have frozen broccoli and frozen peas.
It is also a forgiving recipe. Go ahead d swap and substitute ingredients based on what you have at home.
- Olive oil: I prefer to sauté with olive oil, but you can use coconut oil or your preferred sautéing oil.
- Onion: A classic brown or white onion gives your vegetable broth the flavour boost it needs. But you can also use shallots or spring onions.
- Garlic: It’s always fresh garlic cloves for me. But if you prefer the convenience of shop-bought minced garlic, go ahead and use that.
- Broccoli: The recipe uses a whole head of broccoli, but you can use pre-cut broccoli florets to save time. Use roughly 400 grams (14 oz). Or use frozen broccoli. I always have a freezer bag with broccoli for a healthy dinner emergency!
- Vegetable stock: You can use any stock or vegetable broth here. Or, if you don’t have any, substitute water.
- Peas: Frozen peas are a convenient ingredient to have around. It adds sweetness and a vibrant Spring green colour to the broccoli soup. But you can omit the peas if you want a super low-carb vegan soup.
- Basil: Basil adds the flavour punch. I don’t recommend swapping it for another herb. But you can stir through basil pesto and add a drizzle to the final soup if you have some on hand. I like to freeze plant-based basil pesto in ice cube trays. Try this vegan basil pesto.
- Lemon: You know I love lemon. I use the zest and a squeeze of lemon juice. But you can add a splash of apple cider vinegar instead.
Plant-based soup toppings
Top the beautiful green soup with something crunchy, something acidic and something creamy. My favourite combination is toasted sunflowers, lemon zest and cashew cream, but you can use any combination that fits the description (and your pantry).
- Cashew cream: You can also use coconut cream, yoghurt or tahini to drizzle over the soup. See how to make cashew cream in the next section. Or learn how to make tahini from sesame seeds.
- Sunflower seeds: I love a crunchy element with any soup. Sunflower seeds and broccoli are a perfect match in my mind. But you can try other toasted nuts or homemade croutons.
- Lemon zest: If you use tahini instead of cashew cream, top the soup with a sprinkle of sumac for the acidic kick.
How to make cashew cream
The cashews need to soak for at least 30 minutes before blending. You can also soak them overnight in cold water.
I love nutritional yeast, not just for the extra protein but also for the delicious umami, cheese-like flavour. However, you can leave it out if you don’t have any (or don’t like it).
Cashew cream ingredients:
- 1 cup raw, unsalted cashews
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast flakes or powder (optional)
Add one cup of raw, unsalted cashews to a heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water by at least 5 cm (2 inches). Soak for 30 minutes or longer while you prep your ingredients.
Alternatively, cover the nuts with cold water and leave them to soak overnight.
Drain the cashews and add them to a blender with one cup of fresh water and a tablespoon of nutritional yeast. Blend on high until smooth – about one minute in a high-speed blender or longer in a regular or immersion blender.
If your cashew cream is grainy, allow it to sit for a while longer and blend again. It will turn into a light and creamy sauce.
Store leftover cashew cream in a sealed container. Refrigerate for three days or freeze for two months. Use it instead of coconut milk or dairy cream in cooking (but not for whipping cream).
How to make vegan broccoli soup
This easy recipe is very adaptable.
I love the contrast between the vibrant green broccoli soup, the richness of the cashew cream and the crunchy toasted seeds.
But if you prefer a vegan cream of broccoli soup, blend half a cup of cashew cream into the soup instead of drizzling it over. And tada, creamy vegan broccoli soup!
If you don’t have shop-bought cashew cream, start by making the cashew cream, it needs time to soak.
How to prepare broccoli for soup
How you slice your broccoli is not that important. But it helps to remove any tough, fibrous broccoli stems to ensure a creamy texture for the blended soup. Smaller pieces of broccoli are also easier to blend.
First, cut the fresh broccoli florets from the broccoli crown.
The thick stem is delicious, so don’t discard this bit! Use a vegetable peeler or sharp knife to remove the outer fibrous layer of the stalk.
Then roughly chop the broccoli florets and inner stalk with a knife, or use a food processor.
You can also use frozen broccoli. I like to have a freezer bag of chopped, blanched and frozen broccoli ready for this soup. Add the broccoli straight from frozen.
Cook the soup
Place a large soup pot or dutch oven on medium heat. Add the onion and sweat until it starts to soften (about five minutes) before adding the garlic. Cook for another two minutes.
Add the chopped broccoli, veggie broth, and water. For a creamier soup, you can replace the water with almond milk.
Cover and cook for eight minutes or until the broccoli is soft.
Add one teaspoon of salt along with the frozen peas. Stir to defrost the peas without overcooking them, only about one minute.
Add a cup of cashew cream now if you want vegan creamy broccoli soup. Or wait for the finished soup to drizzle with cashew cream as I do.
Blend the soup
Remove the soup pot from the heat, and add two large handfuls of basil leaves and a squeeze of lemon juice.
An immersion blender (stick blender) works best to puree soups while warm. But you can use a regular or high-speed blender. Allow the soup to cool a bit before transferring it to your blender.
I like the soup thick and creamy in texture, but you can add boiling water or warm broth if you prefer it thinner.
Taste the soup and season with more salt or lemon juice.
How to serve plant-based broccoli soup
The soup serves two people as a generous main or four as a starter portion.
Divide the broccoli soup between two to four bowls, and top with a drizzle of cashew cream, toasted sunflower seeds, the reserved basil leaves, and lemon zest.
Finish with freshly ground black pepper and a final drizzle of olive oil.
And serve your delicious soup with crusty bread.
How to store leftover broccoli soup
This green soup retains a beautiful green colour in the fridge (or freezer), though it may dull ever-so-slightly
The flavour stays fresh and sweet.
Scoop leftover soup into an airtight container and refrigerate for three days. Store the cashew cream separately if you want to drizzle it over the soup after reheating.
Can you freeze vegan broccoli soup?
This green dairy-free broccoli soup is ideal for freezing. Make a double batch and store leftovers in a freezer-safe container for up to three months.
Traditional cream of broccoli soup can curdle when reheated. So, always allow classic broccoli soup to defrost before gently reheating it while stirring.
What to do with leftover broccoli soup?
It is always tricky to gauge the portion size of a soup.
Some people want a big bowl of comfort soup, hold the bread. Others see soup as a toast topper and fill themselves up on bread. And most are somewhere in between.
Luckily, this plant-based broccoli soup freezes well.
But if you have less than a portion remaining, you can:
- Bulk the soup up by adding cooked green vegetables like spinach, zucchini (courgettes/baby marrow), or more broccoli and peas before blitzing again.
- Use leftover broccoli soup as a pasta sauce. Reheat the soup in a pan and toss with cooked pasta, then top with lightly toasted pine nuts or breadcrumbs.
Vegan Broccoli Soup Recipe
- A large pot or saucepan
- A stick blender (immersion blender) or standard blender
- 1 head of broccoli*
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more to serve
- 1 onion, roughly chopped
- 1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
- 1 cup vegetable stock
- 1 cup water
- 1 teaspoon salt, more to taste
- 1 cup frozen peas (150 grams)
- 2 handfuls basil leaves (25 grams), plus more for garnish
- ½ lemon, squeezed for a tablespoon of lemon juice, and lemon zest reserved
- cashew cream*, or coconut cream or tahini
- toasted sunflower seeds
- lemon zest
- black pepper
- Cut the broccoli florets from the crown. Use a sharp knife to remove the fibrous outer layer of the stem and cut the soft inner stem into small pieces.
- Put two tablespoons of olive oil into a large pot or dutch oven and place it on medium heat. Add the onion and sweat until they are soft and translucent (about five minutes) before adding the garlic. Cook for another two minutes.
- Add the chopped broccoli, vegetable stock and water. Turn the heat up to medium-high. Cover and cook for 8 minutes or until the broccoli is soft.
- Add one teaspoon of salt along with the frozen peas. Stir to defrost the peas without overcooking them, only about one minute. Then add the basil and a tablespoon of lemon juice.
- Remove the pot from the heat and blitz with an immersion blender. Add boiling water or warm veggie broth if the soup is too thick for your liking soup. Taste the soup and adjust the seasoning with more salt and lemon juice.
- Drizzle generously with cashew cream, and top with the toasted sunflower seeds, reserved basil leaves, and lemon zest.
- Finish with a coarse grind of black pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. And serve with crusty bread.
- You can also use pre-cut or frozen broccoli florets. Use roughly 400 grams (14 oz). There is no need to defrost frozen broccoli first.
- Add raw sunflower seeds to a hot, dry pan to toast them for a minute or so. Just keep an eye on them to avoid burning.
- If you can’t find cashew cream in the grocery store, see how to make cashew cream. Or use yoghurt, tahini or coconut cream.
- Why not make a double batch? This recipe is easy to double, and leftovers freeze well. Or, see what to do with leftover broccoli soup for more ideas.
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