Ahhh, soul warming, scrumptious, satisfying soup!
I am a huge soup fan, especially during these long winter months. When people think of vegan soups, some think of thin, light, less-than-satisfying vegetable soups. The soups I’ve gathered here in this post are quite the opposite. My favorite soups are hearty, filling, mega-flavorful and leave nothing left to be desired. Read on for my vegan soup recipe round-up, and my cooking tips for making delicious plant-powered soups that everyone will love.
Cooking Tips for Making Satisfying Vegan Soup
1. Use a great broth
Vegan or not, what sets apart mediocre soup from great soup is the broth. A rich, homemade broth is obviously the best, but bouillon and boxed broths can be good quality too. The quality varies by brand, some are bland, some are too salty, some have no salt, and some are highly processed. I’m not a huge fan of dried stock cubes, I find that the paste has the deepest, most genuine flavor. If I don’t have homemade stock on hand, my go-to is Better than Bouillon. Just look for brands that don’t contain a ton of unrecognizable additives.
If you’re still tossing your veggie scraps in the garbage or compost, don’t waste them, start a new stock habit! Homemade stock is so lovely and resourceful. It freezes wonderfully and tastes so much better than bouillon cubes or paste. It’s easy to make a weekly habit of stock making, and it takes almost zero effort.
Tips for Making Your Own Veggie Broth (Spoiler: It’s SO Easy!)
To make stock, just keep a large ziploc bag or tupperware container in the freezer and throw your onion scraps, carrot ends, herb stems, and other veggie scraps into it throughout the week. When it gets full, you know it’s broth time! Throw it all in a bit pot of water (those pasta pats with inner straining pots are great for this) and boil it for a couple of hours. Let it cool, transfer it into smaller containers, and freeze or refrigerate.
Homemade broth freezes wonderfully and is a great freezer staple. The day before you want to make something with it, just move it from the freezer to the fridge and let it thaw for a day or so. If you have a wood stove, try setting your stock pot on top of the stove (boil it first to get it started) and let it simmer for a few hours. It will make the house smell lovely and it’s nice to get extra functionality from your fire. Stock is also great in a crockpot. Load it up and let it simmer on low for 6-8 hours while you’re out and about.
2. Start with aromatics (garlic, ginger, onions)
Onions and garlic provide an important flavor foundation for almost every soup I can think of. Other aromatics included celery, leeks, shallots, and fresh ginger. Start your soup by sautéing your aromatics in a heavy bottomed pot in a little bit of oil over medium low heat until fragrant and translucent, just a few minutes.
3. Choose one or two ingredients to showcase
With vegan soups, you’ll want to pick an ingredient or two to highlight. This could be a hearty vegetable like eggplant, mushrooms, or butternut squash, or a legume such as butter beans or chickpeas. Let the rest of your ingredients play a supporting role around your central ingredient(s). That said, everything-but-the-kitchen sink soups can be fun too, but even then there is still a prominent flavor such as tomato or curry. It’s also worth knowing which combinations of plant-based ingredients compliment each other. Some tried and true pairings are tomato and beans, pumpkin and curry, butternut squash and fall fruit, carrot and ginger, potato and leek, etc.
4. Be sure to include a grain, legume, or starchy vegetable
If you’re going for a meal instead of a side dish, be sure to include a legume such as chickpeas, butter beans, black beans, or lentils, a grain like rice or barley, or a starchy, filling vegetable such as potatoes or squash.
5. Don’t overcomplicate the flavors
It’s really easy to overdo it on spices. Less is more with soups. Don’t go grabbing every spice in the spice cupboard and adding a dash of everything you’ve got. It will muddy and confuse the flavors. Choose simple, flavorful seasonings and if you are in an experimenting mood, ladle a few scoops of your soup into small test bowls and experiment on those, so as not to accidentally ruin the entire soup.
6. Know your vegetable cooking times
The cooking time with vegetables can vary from 1 hour to 1 minute, so it’s important to know when to add veggies to your pot so that you don’t overcook some while undercooking others. With many veggies it’s important to cook them just enough, but not too much, so that they retain their vibrant color and don’t lose all of their texture (unless you are making a blended soup, obviously).
Longer cooking veggies (30-40 min)
- bell pepper
- butternut squash
- sweet potato
Quick cooking veggies (5-10 min)
- snow peas
Veggies to add at the very end:
- frozen corn
- frozen peas
- sauerkraut or pickled veggies
7. Don’t skimp on the healthy fats
Don’t be afraid of fats, fat = flavor!! You don’t need a ton of fat for a rich and flavorful soup, but fat-free soups will always leave something to be desired. Sautéing your aromatics in a small splash of oil at the beginning makes a big difference flavor-wise. For oil-free soups, boost the satisfaction-factor with creamy coconut milk or garnish with yummy avocado.
8. Don’t forget the garnish!
A great soup needs a lovely garnish! Both to tie the flavors together and for a pretty visual presentation. My favorite ways to finish a soup are a flurry of fresh herbs, a sprinkle of pumpkin seeds, a pinch of red pepper flakes, diced avocado, or a drizzle of coconut milk. There are some good vegan brands of sour cream these days too, if you love a good dollop.
9. Learn how to adjust your seasonings at the end
Have you ever tasted your soup excitedly and found it to be disappointingly bland? There are a few tricks for enhancing the flavor. I find that my soups usually need a bit of salt and acid at the end to brighten the flavors and make the whole thing shine. Usually, I can accomplish this with just a pinch of salt (although be careful if you are using a high-sodium broth or bouillon paste!) or a splash of soy sauce.
For acidity, squeeze in half of a fresh lemon or lime (careful not to drop the seeds in and be sure to add it after you’ve removed your soup from the heat) or a splash of red wine vinegar. Lemon pairs beautifully with garlicky and tomatoey soups, lime with Asian soups or curries, and red wine vinegar does something magical to bean soups. Also, be sure to use good quality salt and freshly ground pepper.
16 Super Satisfying Vegan Soup Recipes
As we continue slogging through winter, here is a round up of some of my favorite super satisfying vegan soups that are sure to bring a little winter comfort and coziness.
If you make any of these yummy vegan soups, I’d love to see your creations! Leave a comment below, rate it, or tag me in your meal pics on Instagram @katiesconsciouskitchen. Or, join my free private facebook group for more inspiration!
#1: Hearty Bean & Tomato Soup w/ Avocado
It is such a satisfying skill to be able to transform kitchen scraps and pantry staples into a delicious, comforting soup. If you don’t have this skill yet, let me teach you. I promise, it’s easy. And you probably don’t even need to go grocery shopping! Check out my guide for how to make bean soup without a recipe.
#2: Butternut Squash & Red Lentil Soup
This butternut squash & red lentil soup is great for using up leftover puréed squash or pumpkin. Be sure to use small red lentils here, as green or brown lentils won’t work well. It’s flavorful, warming, and easy! Recipe here.
#3: Cream of Mushroom Soup w/ White Beans
Here’s a creamy but not too heavy, versatile, vegan soup to bring you all the fall comfort. Recipe here.
#4: Smoky Red Lentil Chili (Vegan!)
This smoky, spicy red lentil chili has the YUM factor to bring a little extra comfort into your February. Also try pairing this lentil chili with some of my favorite Easy Flourless Cornbread to make this meal extra yummy. Chili recipe here.
#5: Split Pea & Potato Soup (Vegan)
This veganized classic is cozy, filling, and oh-so-yummy! I add a splash of liquid smoke and a dash of smoked paprika to give it that hint of smoky flavor that meat eaters achieve with a ham bone. The potatoes make it extra creamy and filling. Recipe here.
#6: Odds & Ends Peanut Soup
This soup is the perfect winter comfort food. It’s very versatile, so feel free to add any produce odds & ends you have around. I love to make this soup when I’m running low on produce, because a lot of it comes together from dry goods. Recipe here.
#7: Warming Winter Lentil Soup
This simple, hearty, brothy lentil soup makes the house smell amazing, because of the aromatics like garlic, curry powder, thyme, and cumin. This soup takes about 1 hour from start to finish, with about 20 minutes of active work. It makes 6 complete meals, and is perfect for batch cooking, eating some, and freezing the rest. It may seem like this soup contains a lot of oil, but it only ends up being about 1 Tbsp per serving, and the oil is an important part of what makes the soup so rich and flavorful. Recipe here.
#8: Coconut Curry Lentil Soup
This simple, delicious soup is one of the most popular recipes on my blog, and it’s so quick! Recipe here.
#9: Eggplant & Butter Bean Stew
This stew is satisfyingly rich from the olive oil and starchy butter beans, silky from the stewed melt-in-your-mouth eggplant, and intensely flavorful from the tomatoes, jarred peppers, and tomato paste. The exact amounts and sizes of cans/jars in this recipe are not important. It’s a very forgiving stew, so throw in whatever you’ve got. You really can’t go wrong. If you’ve got a crockpot or a woodstove, this is a great one to leave simmering and (mostly) unattended all day. Recipe Here.
#10: Vegan Chili
Even though you’ll find some tasty chili recipes on my blog, the truth is that you really don’t need a recipe to make a delicious pot of chili. If you’re trying to rely less on recipes, chili is a great dish to try striking out on your own with. It’s so forgiving! In this post, you’ll find my formula and best tips for how to make vegan chili by throwing together whatever odds and ends are around. Read my guide here.
#11: Creamy Asparagus & Potato Soup
This soup can be served warm or chilled, and pairs perfectly with a hearty salad or with a side of roasted veggies and a stand-alone protein. This recipe is featured in our Seasonal Eating Cookbook. Also check out my recipe for Creamy Broccoli & Potato Soup for a variation on this theme with a slightly different flavor profile.
#12: Potato Corn Chowder
Here’s a creamy, soul-satisfying end-of-summer vegan soup. Creamy from the coconut milk, thickened with potatoes, sweet from the summer corn, and simply spiced, this makes an easy, yet impressive side dish. Recipe here.
#13: Rainbow Daal
I discovered this soup a couple of years ago and was blown away by how easy and delicious it was. I love that it’s made in one-pot, and it’s one of my go-to’s for batching ahead for weekday lunches. Recipe here.
#14: Nourishing Cabbage Soup
This hearty, cleansing soup is perfect for the transition between the cold and warm seasons. It’s light, warming and healthy, while also being creamy and comforting. This recipe is also featured in our Seasonal Eating Cookbook.
#15: Butternut & Beet Split Soup
The bright, sweet, and earthy flavors in this pairing are as complimentary as their colors. Both soups are easy to make, and their stunning visual presentation is sure to impress. You can find the recipe on my mom’s blog over here.
#16: Pumpkin, Apple, & Ginger Bisque
There are sooooo many lovely variations on simple squash soup. The flavor pairings of squash, fruit, and coconut milk are gorgeous and simply perfect. I’ve written a handy template for this soup so you can make your own variation on this comforting fall classic! Find it here.
Which satisfying vegan soup is your favorite? Share in the comments!