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, grain-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
It wouldn’t be a cream of broccoli soup if it wasn’t for broccoli. 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.
Another ingredient that adds a rounder counterpoint is cashews. It’s all about balance and cashews provide the much needed sweetness to counteract the peppery notes of broccoli. Together with an avocado, cashews also yield the most amazing creamy texture.
Since this is a plant-based cream of broccoli soup, nutritional yeast is a great substitute for cheese here. Nutritional yeast 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. To lighten up the flavor, lemon juice and fresh parsley work really well here.
You can add different spices to further flavor the soup, but I usually go with just salt.
The flavor of broccoli changes dramatically depending on how long it’s cooked. So, the trick to making this broccoli soup taste amazing is to not really cook the broccoli. Start by sauteing the aromatics. Then add the broccoli, cover it with vegetable broth, bring it to a boil, and let the broccoli simmer for a maximum of couple of minutes. 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.
The next step is preparing cashew cream. Cashews are what goes into the blender first (so you can set aside a little bit of the cashew cream for presentation). When the broccoli is ready, add it to the cashew cream together with all the other ingredients and blend on high. I would 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.
More Cream of Broccoli Soup Recipes
I have a couple of versions of broccoli soup on my blog – this cooked cream of broccoli soup and raw cream of broccoli soup. If you have never had raw soup before, this one is great to start with. Unlike hot pureed 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 and you’ll fall in love with it even if you don’t like broccoli.
For even more pureed soup recipes, check out this blog post with Vitamix soup recipes and tips for making blended soups.
Tools You’ll Need
1. Blender (Vitamix 750) | 2. Cookware Set (All-Clad, Stainless Steel) | 3. Knives Set (Set of 5, Utopia Kitchen, Stainless Steel) | 4. Cutting Board (24″x 18″, Michigan Maple Block, Maple) | 5. Measuring Cup (2 Cups, Anchor Hocking, Glass) | 6. Measuring Cups (Set of 6, Bellemain, Stainless Steel) | 7. Measuring Spoons (Set of 6, 1Easylife, Stainless Steel)
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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 avocado
- 1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley*
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
- 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 blend with the cashew cream. Add the avocado, 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.
**Soak the cashews for 4-8 hours (or overnight). To quick-soak, pour boiling hot water over the cashews and soak for 1 hour. Drain, rinse, and use as instructed.
***Nutrition information is approximate and may contain errors. Please, feel free to make your own calculations.