How to Make Dairy-Free Creamy Vegetable Soup

Boiled vegetables, with their starch and pectin, are a great thickener . By adding them to gravies, soups, stews, or sauces, you can add body (and flavor) without any dairy. If rubbed finely enough, these dishes can taste creamy.

I guess I always knew (somewhere in my mind) that I could make a creamy vegan soup using this method, but I’m almost obsessive with dairy. Heavy cream, butter, and sour cream offer quick shortcuts for achieving a juicy, full-bodied body, but my sister is allergic to dairy products, my dad is trying to cut animal fats for health reasons, and my partner is lactose intolerant. If I want to continue cooking for these people, I need to learn to rely less on milk, cream, cheese and other dairy products.

As Food52 points out in its article on the subject , all you really need to make a creamy vegetable soup is fat, vegetables, and some kind of liquid. And as I learned while making this (by the way) vegan marinara, a lot of fat is key – at least half a cup. If the vegetables you choose don’t turn out as thick as you’d like, you can add a tablespoon (or four) of instant mashed potatoes.

You can do this with just about any vegetable, but I love leeks. They are high in natural fiber and, when melted into fat, can give sauces and soups some texture.

I made this soup in two ways, with and without instant mashed potatoes, and I think I preferred it without it. The leeks provide sufficient consistency on their own, and the simple list of ingredients helps to shine a sweet and delicate onion flavor.

For broth, I used Better Than Bouillon fried onions (2 teaspoons to 3 cups of hot water), but any well-seasoned broth or broth will work. You can also use other herbs, spices and aromas, but again, there is something nice about the pure taste of leeks.

Once you’ve made leek soup, you’ll likely feel the courage to try your hand at other delicious, dairy-free dishes. It would be a good idea to sauté the carrots in a lot of oil with ginger and garlic, and then rub them with vegetable broth, just like sweet potatoes or any courgettes. If you want to create an autumnal vibe, add some rosemary, sage and possibly some cinnamon and nutmeg. But try the leek first. I think you will really like them.

Creamy Leek Soup without Cream (Serves 2-4)

Ingredients:

  • 1 large leek (about a pound before pruning), washed and chopped 1/2 inch crescent (use only light green and white portions)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt or table salt
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3 cups of well-seasoned stock (I used 2 teaspoons of Better Than Bouillon in 3 cups of water)
  • Optional: instant mashed potatoes.

Add the leeks, olive oil, and salt to a high-sided saucepan, Dutch oven, or whatever you like to make the soup, and stir with a wooden spoon to cover the leeks completely. Simmer over medium heat and sweat for at least 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until the leeks are completely soft. Add broth, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about five minutes. Let simmer slightly, then whisk in a powerful blender. (Work in batches if necessary.)

Don’t strain the soup – the plant matter gives it a body. If it’s too coarse, just mix more. Return to the pot to reheat, add a tablespoon of instant mashed potatoes if needed for a truly hearty soup, then serve with frayed onions sprinkled with fragrant butter, plenty of fresh herbs, or a hearty crouton.

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