This thick, creamy vegan broccoli soup with cheesy-without-the-cheese nacho cheese sauce is warm, comforting, and totally indulgent with zero regrets. 👏
Yes, this broccoli cheese soup tastes rich, velvety, and oh-so cheesy.
- AND it includes an actual rainbow of veggies - potatoes, carrots, tomato, onions, garlic, and a ton of broccoli.
- AND even though I keep using words like creamy and cheesy there is no actual cream or cheese or dairy of any kind in there.
It’s a bowl of veggies disguised as creamy, cheesy soup. Also, let’s not forget the crispy fried potatoes. Let’s never ever forget the crispy fried potatoes.
After topping bowls of split pea soup with crispy fried potatoes, I vowed to always top bowls of creamy soup with crispy fried potatoes because it is a superior way to eat soup. Just sayin'.
The potatoes add a buttery, creamy-on-the-inside-crispy-on-the-outside texture to this soup that gives you something to chew on and makes the soup feel even more satisfying and indulgent.
Is creamy, cheesy, delicious, satisfying, and packed with veggies your kind of thing? Perfect. Me too. Let's make some soup.
Some of you are going to be scared off by the number of ingredients in this recipe and I want to shout through the screen to HOLD UP just a minute and let me set the record straight:
- The ingredient list in the recipe card is deceptively long because I've separated the ingredients for the soup and the nacho cheese sauce. BUT many of them overlap.
- Many of the ingredients for this recipe are pantry staples that you probably already have.
- The only "rare-ish" ingredients in this soup are urfa pepper and nutritional yeast. Nutritional yeast (I'm sure many of you already have some) is easily found in the baking isle of most supermarkets. Urfa pepper can be ordered if it's not in your local market, or just leave it out and add more paprika.
- Potatoes. Potatoes are an important component in the soup and the cheese sauce. PLUS, topping bowls of soup with a handful of crispy fried potatoes is so, SO delicious. Use any kind of potato you like - I prefer buttery yukon gold potatoes or russets.
- Carrots add flavor, color and just the right amount of natural sweetness to the vegan nacho cheese sauce.
- Salt and pepper, of course.
- Vegetable oil and/ or vegan butter. A bit of fat in the vegan cheese sauce is important to achieving a smooth, cohesive cheese sauce with a velvety texture. Fat is also essential for sautéing onions, garlic, and spices to create the broccoli soup base.
- Non-dairy milk. Use any kind of non-dairy milk you like as long as it's unsweetened and unflavored.
- Soy sauce. Just a couple tablespoons of soy sauce boosts the umami factor in the nacho cheese sauce. Use tamari if you're on a gluten free diet.
- Nutritional yeast. Nutritional Yeast adds a surprising "cheesy" flavor to foods and mimics the umami flavor often derived from parmesan or cheddar cheese. You can leave it out and it will still be delicious. But, it will have a richer, cheesier flavor when you include it. In addition, nutritional yeast is good for you! It's a great source of plant based protein, fiber, and B vitamins.
- Cornstarch. Just a tablespoon helps to thicken the cheese sauce and makes it more stable.
- Ground, dried spices: garlic powder, onion powder, ground cayenne, coriander, Urfa pepper and smoked paprika. If you're not familiar, Urfa pepper is a dark red Turkish chili pepper with a gorgeous savory-sweet-smokey and slightly sour flavor that adds flavor and complexity to this soup.
- Lemon juice adds an essential brightness to both the cheese sauce and the broccoli soup.
- Tomato paste adds color and umami to the vegan nacho cheese sauce.
- Chopped garlic and onions build flavor in the broccoli soup base.
- Vegetable stock. I used Better than Bouillon Vegetable Base.
- Broccoli florets, obvi. Fresh or frozen.
- Fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley.
- And, the pièce de résistance... Top creamy, cheesy bowls of broccoli soup with Crispy Fried Potatoes. The recipe for crispy fried potatoes calls for butter and olive oil. If you want to keep things 100% vegan, just use vegan butter or only oil.
*See the recipe card for precise quantities.
Step by Step Photos and Instructions
I usually like to make the nacho cheese before starting on the soup and then let it hang out in the refrigerator until I need it. (You can even make it up to a week in advance if you prefer.) While the potatoes and carrots simmer for the cheese sauce, gather the ingredients for the soup.
How to make Vegan Nacho Cheese Sauce
This vegan nacho cheese sauce is a super easy two step process:
#1. Peel a couple of potatoes and carrots and chop them into bite-size pieces that are all roughly the same size so the cook at the same rate.
Let the veggies simmer in salted water until tender. It's important to add enough salt to the water to make it taste salty. The salt will flavor the veggies while they cook.
#2. Add the cooked veggies and all the other nacho cheese ingredients to a blender and puree until smooth.
Give the cheese sauce a taste and add more salt or cayenne if you like. You can also add some chili powder and a few pickled jalapeños if you want to dial up the heat and nacho cheese flavor.
How to Make Creamy Broccoli Soup
Chop up an onion and cook it in some vegan butter or oil until it's soft and transulcent.
Add some chopped garlic and all the spices and cook for a couple of minutes to let the spices bloom.
Add some non-dairy milk, vegetable stock, and a chopped potato and bring the liquid to a boil.
Add the broccoli, cover the pot, and let it simmer until the broccoli and potatoes are tender.
Remove the pan from the heat, stir in some chopped parsley and freshly squeezed lemon juice, and puree in a blender until smooth and creamy.
Alternatively, you can use an immersion blender to puree the soup inside the saucepan.
Stir in the nacho cheese sauce and give it a taste. Add more lemon juice, salt and pepper if you like.
Ladle the broccoli cheese soup into bowls and top with more chopped fresh parsley and a handful of crispy fried potatoes.
Pro Tip: Crispy fried potatoes are creamy on the inside and crispy on the outside because they are boiled and then fried. I like to boil the potatoes before making the soup (or in a different pot while making the soup) then fry them right before serving. You can also boil the potatoes up to 3 days in advance and keep them in the refrigerator until you're ready to fry them.
Variations and Substitutions
- Swap out the crispy fried potatoes for crispy fried mushrooms as in this recipe for Roasted Cauliflower Soup.
- Other topping ideas: croutons, crispy pieces of bacon, sausage, or tofu, shredded cheese, or roasted pumpkin seeds.
- Use cauliflower instead of broccoli for a creamy, cheesy cauliflower soup.
- Toss in a can of beans, or a cup or two of homemade slow cooker beans or instant pot beans.
- Add some shredded chicken for a soup that's reminiscent of chicken divine casserole (chicken and broccoli baked under a blanket of cheese sauce).
- Add some cooked grains - rice, couscous, or quinoa are all delicious in this soup.
Storage and Make Ahead Tips
- The nacho cheese sauce can be prepared up to a week in advance of using it in this soup. Store it in a covered container in the refrigerator. Or, freeze the nacho cheese sauce in an airtight container for up to 3 months.
- Broccoli cheese soup reheats really well. Prepare the soup in advance and store it in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. The same applies to leftover soup which is perfect for lunch the next day! Reheat on the stovetop over low heat or in the microwave.
- The crispy fried potatoes are at their crispiest right after they've been fried. But, they are still delicious later on. If you have some leftover, just put them in an airtight container and store them in the refrigerator. Add them to the soup before reheating.
- Broccoli cheese soup can be frozen for up to 3 months. Store the soup in an airtight container in the freezer and allow it to thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Reheat on the stovetop over low heat or in the microwave.
Absolutely. Frozen broccoli works just as well as fresh broccoli in this soup. No need to thaw the broccoli before using - just dump it into the soup pot frozen and let it cook until tender.
I love serving hunks of crusty bread with this soup, but here are a few more delicious options: soft, homemade dinner rolls, warm homemade flour tortillas, or flaky buttermilk biscuits.
If you want to go the soup-and-salad route, Israeli Salad is the perfect salad to serve with creamy broccoli cheese soup.
For a crispy, dip-worthy, side dish, these baked carrot fries are hard to beat.
Or, round out the meal with a platter of roasted beets, roasted cabbage, or roasted brussels sprouts.
For the Vegan Nacho Cheese Sauce:
- 1 ¼ cups (230 grams) chopped potato, peel and cut into bite-size pieces
- ⅓ cup (60 grams) chopped carrot, peeled and cut into pieces the same size as the potato
- ¼ cup (50 grams) vegetable oil (or melted vegan butter)
- ¼ cup (57 grams) non-dairy milk, unsweetened and unflavored
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (*See note)
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1 ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cayenne
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- Optional: Chili powder, a couple of pickled jalapeños
For the Broccoli Soup:
- 4 tablespoons (54 grams) vegan butter - OR, vegetable or olive oil
- 1 cup (142 grams) chopped yellow onion or shallot
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- ½ teaspoon salt, more to taste
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper, more to taste
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon Urfa pepper (*See note below)
- 1 ½ teaspoons smoked paprika
- 3 cups (681 grams/ 24 ounces) non-dairy milk, unflavored and unsweetened
- 3 cups (777 grams/ 24 ounces) vegetable stock
- 1 cup (120 grams) diced potato (peel the potato and cut into bite-size pieces)
- 1 pound 8 ounces (700 grams/ 7 heaping cups) broccoli florets
- ½ cup chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley + more for serving
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, more to taste
- Crispy Fried Potatoes, for serving (*See note below)
Make the Vegan Nacho Cheese Sauce:
- Add the chopped potato and carrot to a saucepan and add enough water to cover the vegetables by about 2 inches. Add enough salt to make the water taste salty, about 1 tablespoon. Set the saucepan over high heat and bring the water to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat to medium and let the vegetables cook until they are tender. (While the potatoes and carrots simmer for the cheese sauce, gather the ingredients for the soup.)
- Drain the vegetables and add them to a blender. Add all the other ingredients for the nacho cheese sauce and blend until smooth. Taste and add more salt and/ or cayenne if desired. You can also add some chili powder and/ or a few pickled jalapeños if you want more heat and chili flavor.
- Scrape into a covered container and refrigerate until ready to use. The cheese sauce will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Make the Broccoli Soup:
- Add the vegan butter (or oil) to a large saucepan or stock pot and set it over medium low heat. When the butter has melted, add the onion. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the garlic, coriander, salt, pepper, sugar, Urfa pepper, and paprika and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 more minutes.
- Add the non-dairy milk, vegetable stock, and chopped potato into the pan and turn the heat to high. When the liquid begins to boil, add the broccoli. Lower the heat to maintain a simmer, cover the pan, and cook until the broccoli and potatoes are tender. This will take about 12 minutes. Lift the lid and stir a couple of times.
- Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the chopped parsley and lemon juice. Allow the soup to cool for about 10 minutes then puree in a blender. Depending on the size of your blender, you will most likely need to do this in batches. Do not fill the blender more than ⅔ full. Alternatively, you can puree the soup inside the stock pot using an immersion blender.
- Return the soup to the pan and stir in the nacho cheese sauce. Taste and add more lemon juice, salt and/ or pepper if desired.
- Cover the pan and prepare the crispy fried potatoes if you haven't already done so.
- If necessary, allow the soup to reheat for a couple of minutes over medium heat then serve in bowls topped with crispy fried potatoes and more fresh parsley.
What is Urfa Pepper and where can you get it?
Urfa pepper is a dark red Turkish chili pepper with a gorgeous savory-sweet-smokey and slightly sour flavor that adds a remarkable amount of flavor and complexity to food. You can find it in some grocery stores, or do what I almost always do and order it. I've linked to the brand I use below.
If you need to make broccoli cheese soup right now and don't have any urfa pepper (I get it!), just increase the amount of paprika to 1 tablespoon.
About nutritional yeast
Nutritional Yeast adds a surprising "cheesy" flavor to foods and mimics the umami flavor often derived from parmesan or cheddar cheese. This recipe for vegan nacho cheese sauce is still delicious without the nutritional yeast, but will have a more cheesy flavor when you include it.
In addition, nutritional yeast is good for you! It's a great source of plant-based protein, fiber, and B vitamins.
Tip for making crispy fried potatoes
Crispy fried potatoes are creamy on the inside and crispy on the outside because they are boiled and then fried. I like to boil the potatoes before making the soup (or in a different pot while making the soup) then fry them right before serving. You can also boil the potatoes up to 3 days in advance and keep them in the refrigerator until you're ready to fry them.
The recipe for crispy fried potatoes calls for butter and olive oil. If you want to keep things 100% vegan, just use vegan butter or only oil.
*Nutritional information does not include crispy fried potatoes.
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Serving Size:⅙th recipe
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 258Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 841mgCarbohydrates: 29gFiber: 7gSugar: 6gProtein: 7g