Thursday, January 24, 2013

Dairy Free Broccoli Cheddar Soup


My dairy free broccoli cheddar soup is sweet, rich, and creamy, just like the dairy version. I've been craving this soup since one of my friends ordered a big bowl of it at Panera. It looked so delicious I decided to make some. Plus, it's flu season; soup is soothing and broccoli is high in vitamin C. This is my flu shot.

The combination of sweet onion and sweetened almond milk makes a perfect dairy free soup base. I recommend following the first few steps to make any recipe that may call for a cream based canned soup. It can always be pureed in a food processor for a smoother texture. Also, this particular soup can be used as a base for, say, a chicken and rice casserole.

For the cheese part, I recommend using Trader Joe's Shredded Soy Cheese Blend for flavor if you are just lactose intolerant, but it's not completely vegan. For vegan soup I recommend using vegetable broth and Daiya Cheddar Style Shreds, although the flavor is a bit different. To achieve a better-than-dairy-broccoli-cheddar flavor, I added only 1/2 cup Daiya Style Shreds and then 1/2 cup parmesan in this batch. It's amazing to me.

Sometimes I like to use what I call a fake cheese cocktail: a mixture of different soy or veggie based cheeses to achieve a more natural flavor. The cheddar style flavors can be very strong, and they taste more realistic if toned down with parmesan flavor or mozzarella. Experiment with different brands, but I usually agree that less is more when it comes to adding fake cheese. Try half a cup and judge the flavor, then add more if you like it.


Ingredients:

1 3/4 cups low sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
1 sweet onion, finely chopped
1/3 cup all purpose flour
4 tablespoons Smart Balance Light Buttery Spread
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups sweetened almond milk
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese alternative
3 cups fresh broccoli, chopped

Directions:

1. In a large saucepan, melt Smart Balance over medium low heat. Add onions, salt, and pepper and cook for five minutes or until onions are tender.

                 

2. Add flour and cook for two minutes.

                 

3. Slowly whisk in chicken broth until well combined and cook for five minutes. Whisk in almond milk, and then stir in broccoli. Cook uncovered at a simmer over low heat for 15-20 minutes or until broccoli is tender, stirring occasionally. Do not bring to a boil.

                

                

                

4. Once broccoli is tender, whisk in the cheddar cheese alternative until melted. Depending on the brand used it can be tricky to melt completely, so I say whisk it. Whisking will also break down some of the larger broccoli pieces, creating a smoother soup. Remove saucepan from heat and serve the broccoli cheddar soup in a colorful bowl with your favorite crackers.