This broccoli soup is packed with vegetables but you would never know. It has the most luxurious texture – creamy, velvety smooth, and rich – and undoubtedly falls into the comfort food category. It’s vegan (diary-free, egg-free), grain-free (gluten-free), soy-free, and refined sugar-free.
There are people who genuinely love vegetables. My husband finishes every meal with a few handfuls of raw spinach. My sister snacks on frozen peas straight from the bag. Some people adore radishes or asparagus …
And then there are those who find vegetables way too … vegetal. If you’re one of those (or have picky eaters at home), there’s a scientific way to change that.
Every type of produce is different in terms of chemistry and how it responds to cutting and cooking. For instance, when you cut an onion, you break open cells that release an enzyme called alliinase. This enzyme triggers a chemical reaction that produces much of the pungent aroma we associate with freshly cut onions. The more finely you cut an onion, the more enzymes (and flavor) are released. The same applies to cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli. When you cut a broccoli, you free up a sulfur-rich compound called sulforaphane. The more you cut the broccoli, the more compounds are released.
These compounds then react during cooking. The more finely you cut vegetables, the stronger the reaction. For example, a finely chopped onion will react stronger with oil than one cut into large chunks. To make it even more complex, different cooking methods and cooking times produce different reactions. Short-boiled broccoli tastes bright and grassy while long-roasted and/or sautéed broccoli tastes sweet (due to the caramelization of natural sugars).
To tie it all together, if you’re not a fan of cruciferous vegetables, there are a few things you can do – keep the broccoli florets relatively large, boil them for no longer than 1-2 minutes, and then ice water shock the broccoli to stop the cooking as quickly as possible. (I explain why boiling is the preferred cooking method in the “technique” section).
Tips for Making Cream of Broccoli Soup
Tasting this cream of broccoli soup, you’d never know that it’s made without any dairy. Its rich taste and creamy texture come from these plant-based ingredients:
- Broccoli: it wouldn’t be a cream of broccoli soup if it wasn’t for broccoli. I use both the florets and the stem. The great thing about broccoli (compared to some other brassica vegetables) is that it contains a lot of chlorophyll. This complex molecule not only makes broccoli vibrantly green, but it also helps counteract the sulfuric taste and smell broccoli is famous for.
- Parsley: the two most popular types of parsley are flat-leaf (Italian) and curly. I always use flat-leaf when making broccoli soup because it has a more robust aromatic. Curly parsley is very mild and is best used as a garnish.
- Onions and garlic: aromatic vegetables impart a huge amount of depth of flavor. Almost every cuisine in the world starts with a common simple, balanced, vegetable base of onions and in most cases also garlic. If you wanted, you could also add celery.
- Cashews: cooking is all about balance and cashews provide the much needed sweetness to counteract the peppery notes of broccoli. They also yield the most amazing creamy texture.
- Nutritional yeast: the one ingredient that contributes to a cheesy flavor in plant-based dishes is nutritional yeast. It has a relatively strong flavor that is somewhat similar to that pungent taste found in cheese. A little goes a long way in order not to overpower the entire dish.
- Lemon juice: acidity works wonders in balancing a dish. I typically use lemon juice.
- Salt: the only seasoning I use in this soup is salt. However, a bay leaf or peppercorns would go well with the soup too.
How to Make Cream of Broccoli Soup
One of the things I love most about puréed soups is how easy they are to make. All you need is a high-speed blender and before you know it, you have a creamy, satisfying soup.
- Blend the cashews. Add the cashews into a high-speed blender and blend until smooth. Leave half of the cashews cream in the blender and set the other half aside (for serving).
- Sauté the aromatics. Heat a little bit of olive oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and sauté them until translucent, 5-7 minutes. Sautéing the aromatics gives them the opportunity to soften and release their essential flavors, creating the first layer of flavor in the soup.
- Cook the broccoli. Add the broccoli into the pot with the aromatics, cover it with vegetable broth, and let it simmer for a maximum of couple of minutes. The flavor of broccoli changes dramatically depending on the cooking time. So, the trick to making this broccoli soup taste amazing is to not really cook the broccoli. If you’re really sensitive to the sulfurous smell and taste of brassica vegetables, you can also ice water shock the broccoli. Another reason for not cooking the broccoli for too long is the aforementioned chlorophyll. Broccoli turns olive green to yellow only after 8 minutes of cooking in boiling water. Why? It’s because of acidic compounds naturally present in all vegetables. When chlorophyll is in the presence of acidic molecules (compounds that easily share their hydrogen atom), magnesium – an atom in the center of the chlorophyll molecule – is dislodged and replaced by hydrogen atoms. This simple structural change alters the color of chlorophyll from light green to yellowish green. The longer a vegetable is cooked, the more chlorophyll molecules are altered and the more green color is lost.
- Blend. When the broccoli is done cooking, add it to the blender together with the parsley, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, and salt. Blend on high until completely smooth. I highly recommend using a high-speed blender here because parsley can be tough and stringy. A standard or an immersion blender might work, but the results won’t be quite as smooth.
How To Serve Cream of Broccoli Soup
Whenever I am serving puréed soups, I like to top it with crunchy garnishes for a textural contrast. Bread croutons are my favorite for this recipe. You can also serve the broccoli soup in a crusty bread bowl (my favorite!)
Another garnish is the cashew cream. To get the design pictured here, you need to pipe out dots of the cashew cream in a circle or a spiral form, slightly spaced apart. Then use a skewer and drag it through all the dots in one motion. You can find a video tutorial above.
How to Store and Reheat Broccoli Soup
- Refrigerating: allow the soup to cool to room temperature. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for 3-4 days.
- Freezing: allow the soup to cool to room temperature. Transfer to an airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months.
- Reheating: transfer frozen soup into the refrigerator 24 hours before reheating to thaw slightly. Reheat in a pot on the stovetop over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until hot. Add ¼ cup/60 ml water/broth at a time if too thick.
More Cream of Broccoli Soup Recipes
- Raw cream of broccoli soup: another version of broccoli soup, but this time raw. If you have never had raw soup before, this one is great to start with. Unlike hot puréed soups that are designed for comfort, raw slightly warm soups will wake you up, taste intensely of their key ingredients, and zing with freshness. This raw broccoli soup is no different.
For even more pureed soup recipes, check out this blog post with Vitamix soup recipes and tips for making blended soups.
If you try any of these recipes, please, leave a comment and rate the recipe below. It always means a lot when you do.
Cream of Broccoli Soup
- 8 cups broccoli florets
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 yellow onion , chopped
- 4 cloves garlic , minced
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley*
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
- sea salt , to taste
- 3/4 cup cashews , soaked**
- 1 cup water
- Prepare the cashew cream. Add all the "cashew cream" ingredients into a high-speed blender and blend until smooth. Reserve a few tablespoons of the cashew cream for serving and leave the rest in the blender.
- Sauté the aromatics. Heat the olive oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and sauté until translucent, 5-7 minutes.
- Cook the broccoli. Add the broccoli florets and broth into the pot with the aromatics and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low, season with salt (if the broth doesn’t contain salt already), and simmer, partially covered, until the broccoli begins to soften but is still firm and bright green, about 2 minutes.
- Blend the broccoli. Transfer the broccoli with the aromatics and vegetable broth into the blender with the cashew cream. Add the parsley, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, and salt and blend until smooth. Return the soup into the pot and reheat over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until hot.
- Season. Taste and adjust the flavor as needed, adding more salt for saltiness, nutritional yeast for cheesiness, and lemon juice for acidity.
- Serve. Garnish the soup with a few swirls of the set aside cashew cream and a few fresh parsley leaves. Serve hot.
- Store. Leftover soup keeps well in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. For longer term storage, freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months.