Broccoli soup makes me want to do my taxes.
Alright, alright, I know. But hear me out.
Nothing actually makes me want to do my taxes, but if I have to sit through the boring process, I will always be more cheerful if there’s a bowl of creamy broccoli soup nearby.
As a freelance food writer and recipe developer, tax time is a bit more complicated since, you know, I eat most of my work.
During the calendar year, income goes up and down, left and right, and sometimes nowhere at all – which is why saving receipts for groceries, dinners, visits to coffee shops, and so on is a vital part of the gig.
When it comes time to gather, organize, divide, and conquer nine thousand tiny pieces of paper, I’m not necessarily chomping at the bit to get started. The first time I was faced with this task, I was living (and working) in a one-bedroom apartment where my cat took up most of the available space. I needed somewhere to spread out, and that wasn’t it.
Luckily, the clock had just struck lunch.
I wandered into a nearby Panera Bread Company and decided to treat myself to a massive bowl of their famous broccoli cheddar soup. Suddenly, sifting my way through a mountain of partially indecipherable scraps became less daunting alongside buttery spoonfuls of cheesy, broccoli-studded broth.
The moral of the story is that when March rolls around in my world, all roads lead to soup.
In an attempt to recreate the drool-worthy dish at home (tax time only comes once a year, after all) while sprucing it up with a little makeover, this recipe was born.
I am by no means a vegan, but I do try to cut back on dairy when I can since I typically enjoy a decent amount of it in my diet.
You can’t take away my weekly queso delivery, but I will happily use almond milk in my cereal and oat milk in my lattes.
Gooey white American and green chilies are staple cheese dip ingredients for me, but that doesn’t mean I don’t harbor a little curiosity about all the nut-based cheese products that are on the shelves these days. Not that I plan on dipping tortilla chips in them necessarily, but I do want to know what all the hype is about.
Here is what I learned:
Soaked, softened, blended cashews are the bomb, baby!
Thanks to their high fat content, they really do make a fantastic substitute for cream and/or cheese (or cheese sauce!) in a recipe.
Since the herb-roasted veggies – broccoli, onions, and garlic – create the backbone of this soup’s savory, caramelized flavor, they could simply be pureed with stock and you could call it a day. But why not go two steps further, via soaked cashews and coconut milk, to make things that much more decadent?
Coconut milk adds a rich flavor and melt-in-your-mouth quality, while the cashews also add creaminess and boost the protein content. There are so many wins in this earthy, vegetal soup, I’ve literally lost count.
If you’re like me and can’t resist the occasional bowl of that broccoli cheese goodness from an almighty fast-casual bakery café, you’ll fall hard for this lightened-up, and undeniably more flavorful vegan version.
Even if you can’t mark down the cashews as a work expense, this soup will be worth every penny once tax time comes around.Print
Want to embrace vegan fare? Start with something familiar like this broccoli soup packed with sweet roasted garlic and fresh herbs.
- 1/2 cup raw unsalted cashews, plus 2 tablespoons chopped for garnish
- 6 cups chopped broccoli florets (about 2 medium heads)
- 1 cup roughly chopped yellow onion (1 small onion)
- 3 large cloves garlic
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme (or 1/4 teaspoon dried)
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary (or 1/4 teaspoon dried)
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt, plus more to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 cups vegetable broth
- 1/2 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk, plus 2 tablespoons for garnish
- Fill a small saucepot with water and bring it to a boil. Add 1/2 cup cashews. Cover the pot, turn off the heat, and allow the cashews to soak for 30 minutes. Drain and set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 425°F and line a rimmed half-size baking sheet (18 x 13 inches) with parchment paper.
- Leave the garlic skins on, but slice off the tips.
- Add the broccoli, onion, garlic, thyme, and rosemary to a large bowl. Drizzle with the olive oil, sprinkle with the salt and pepper, and toss until everything is thoroughly coated. Arrange the veggies in a single layer on the baking sheet.
- Bake, tossing once halfway through, until the veggies are golden-brown and caramelized, about 30-35 minutes. Allow the garlic to cool slightly and then squeeze the roasted cloves out of their skins. Reserve a few pieces of crispy broccoli for garnish.
- Add the roasted veggies, soaked cashews, vegetable broth, and coconut milk to a large soup pot. Using a handheld immersion blender, blend until smooth. Simmer the soup on medium heat until it’s heated through, about 8-10 minutes.
- Season to taste with additional salt if necessary. Ladle the soup into bowls. Garnish with several pieces of roasted broccoli, chopped cashews, and a swirl of coconut milk before serving.
- Prep Time: 45 minutes
- Cook Time: 45 minutes
- Category: Soup
- Method: Oven/Stovetop
- Cuisine: Vegan
Keywords: broccoli, roasted, vegan, soup
Cooking By the Numbers…
Step 1 – Soak Cashews and Prep Broccoli
I like to use the boil method to soak cashews in this recipe because I can prep the rest of the ingredients in the 30 minutes it takes them to soften. You can also soak the cashews in room temperature water overnight.
Fill a small saucepot with water and bring it to a boil. Add 1/2 cup of cashews, cover the pot with a lid, turn off the heat, and allow the nuts to soak for at least 30 minutes, or until you’re ready to blend them into the soup. Drain the cashews when you’re ready to use them, and discard the water.
Chop the remaining 2 tablespoons of cashews and set them aside for garnish. These can also be toasted if you like, for extra nuttiness.
To chop the broccoli into florets without making a big mess on your cutting board, you ultimately want to make all of your cuts through the stems or stalk, not the florets. Slicing through the fluffy florets results in broccoli crumbs everywhere.
Start by slicing the head in half through the stem. Holding the stem up vertically, make downward cuts to separate the head into smaller pieces. Next, slice off the stems crosswise towards the bottom of each floret so there’s only a little bit of a stalk left. Slice any florets that are too large through the stem to make them smaller.
Step 2 – Gather and Measure All Ingredients
Preheat the oven to 425°F and line a rimmed half-size baking sheet (18 x 13 inches) with parchment paper.
Roughly chop the onion. The pieces should be around the same size, but they don’t need to be perfectly uniform since they’re going to be roasted and pureed.
Leave the garlic skins on, but slice off the tips. Keeping the skins on will keep them from burning in the oven while they roast.
Chop the thyme and rosemary.
Gather and measure out the rest of your ingredients.
Step 3 – Roast Broccoli, Onion, and Garlic
In a large bowl, combine the broccoli, onion, garlic, thyme, and rosemary. You can do this directly on the baking sheet if you prefer, but I find that tossing everything in a mixing bowl helps to ensure that it’s evenly coated with the oil and seasonings.
Drizzle with the olive oil, season with the salt and pepper, and toss until thoroughly coated.
Arrange the veggies in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. If the broccoli looks a bit crowded, you can always use two baking sheets to make sure everything has plenty of room.
When veggies are too close together in the oven, they steam instead of roasting, and you won’t be able to achieve that golden-brown caramelization, which adds color, texture, and rich flavor.
Place the pan in the oven, and give the vegetables a toss to promote even browning about halfway through. Roast until the veggies are lightly charred, for about 30 to 35 minutes.
Remove from the oven, and set a few smaller pieces of the broccoli aside to use as an elegant garnish.
Once the garlic has cooled slightly, pinch the side of the skin that you didn’t slice, and the roasted clove will pop right out.
Step 4 – Add Liquids and Puree
Add the roasted broccoli and onion, roasted garlic cloves, soaked and drained cashews, vegetable broth, and coconut milk to a large soup pot, making sure you reserve about 2 tablespoons of coconut milk for garnish.
Use an immersion blender to puree the ingredients until the mixture is smooth. If you don’t have a handheld blender, you can use a high-speed blender or food processor instead, and then transfer the mixture to a soup pot.
Step 5 – Heat, Garnish, and Serve
Simmer the soup over medium heat until it’s hot, for about 8 to 10 minutes. Season to taste with additional salt if necessary.
Ladle the soup into bowls, and garnish with several pieces of roasted broccoli, chopped cashews, and a swirl of coconut milk.
You can simply add a small dollop of the coconut milk on top for garnish, but if you want to create a fancy swirl, spoon it into a zip-top bag, snip off one of the ends, and carefully pipe it over the top.
Pro tip: Place the reserved coconut milk you’re going to use for garnish in the freezer for a few minutes before serving, so it floats on top instead of just melting right into the hot soup.
But What About the Bread Bowl?
Since the broccoli loses a little of its vibrance in the oven, stirring in 1 cup of fresh baby spinach just before serving boosts the green color and nutrition of the soup. Kale is also welcome.
While you’re already working with soaked cashews, try whipping up the cashew cream in this recipe for a garnish in place of the coconut milk swirl.
You’re already getting your greens in this broccoli soup, so no side salad is needed. What will you serve with it instead?
Share your favorite soup sidecars in the comments below! And don’t forget to give this recipe a five-star rating if you loved it.
I love getting my daily dose of veggies in liquid form. If you feel the same way, you’ll appreciate these other magnificently meat-free, veg-heavy soup recipes:
Photos by Fanny Slater, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published by Sarah Hagstrom on July 30, 2015. Last updated on March 26, 2022.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Fanny Slater
Fanny Slater is a home-taught food enthusiast based in Wilmington, North Carolina who won the “Rachael Ray Show” Great American Cookbook Competition in 2014, and published her cookbook “Orange, Lavender & Figs” in 2016. Fanny is a food and beverage writer, recipe developer, and social media influencer. She was a co-host on the Food Network series “Kitchen Sink,” was featured on Cooking Channel’s longtime popular series “The Best Thing I Ever Ate,” and continues to appear regularly on the “Rachael Ray Show.”