Vegan Broccoli Soup from a Wonderful Old Friend
I went to college in a sweet little town upstate New York called Saratoga Springs. I loved it so much I stayed in Saratoga every summer in between school years and worked in various restaurants to help pay for my tuition. Most notably (and miraculously), I had the privilege of working at a New York Times-rated gourmet restaurant across from the famous horse racing track. I'll be honest: I don't know how or why they kept me on staff as long as they did. I was a terrible waitress. I couldn't memorize the menu, I didn't know how to make espresso (I would tell people our machine was broken! How terrible is that?!), I could never remember who ordered what at each table, I could never master serving to the left and clearing from the right (or is it the reverse?) and I didn't know much about fine food. Somehow, for some reason, they allowed me to fumble my way through dinner service night after night for a year. The talented kitchen staff taught me how to choose herbs, how to braise meat, the difference between fresh and old fish, the beauty of cooking low and slow, the divine nature of sweet things like cherries with duck – and best of all, how to improvise in the kitchen.
My favorite member of the kitchen staff at the Bistro was a crazy talented, big-smiled chef named Sarah. I can only imagine how exasperating I was to work with – always late, always asking questions, always frenzied and frazzled. But Sarah was always kind to me anyway. She would let me taste her gorgeous salmon terrines, bright beautiful salads and warm desserts bursting with fresh berries. Lucky for me, we’ve stayed in touch through social media and when I saw her post a photo of this soup I knew I needed to try it. She was gracious enough to type up the recipe and I made it on a freezing cold night this week. It was absolutely delicious and loved by my meat-obsessed husband AND my suddenly-now-impossibly-picky-toddler so it's safe to say this one is a win-win.
Sarah’s version is vegan, but, if you want to be a little naughty, you could substitute chicken stock and real cream cheese and possibly add a swirl of heavy cream. I also added extra garlic and a little lemon juice for some brightness.
Vegan Broccoli Soup:
4 large broccoli crowns, chopped
1 head of cauliflower, chopped
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic
2 carrots, shredded
4-6 stalks of celery (hearts included) chopped
8 TBL Earth Balance (Sarah recommends the soy-free)
1 cup of spinach
1 container of Kite Hill Cream cheese (Whole Foods) Plain or Chive
Water/vegetable stock to cover vegetables
Salt & Pepper
In a soup pot, sautée onion garlic, celery & rough chopped carrot till soft in the Earth Balance (it may seem like a lot, but that and the Vegan cream cheese is the only fat, so it gives the soup some body).
Add broccoli and cauliflower, cover with water or veg stock to cover.
Bring up to a boil, then simmer till everything is soft.
Take out about half and most of the stock (so you have just veggies in the pot).
Add the cup of spinach in one of your batches, blend till smooth. Note: it might be a few batches to get it all blended, add the whole container of Kite Hill in one of the batches to get that blended in.
Add the blended soup back to the vegetables and bring back up to a simmer (don’t boil as this could break the soup).
Add more salt and pepper to taste (it may need a healthy amount of salt)
Serve hot with croutons or a loaf of crusty bread.