When I was a kid, my favorite vegetable was broccoli. Every year on my birthday, my mom would let me pick what I wanted to eat for dinner. With zero hesitation, it was almost always Mollie Katzen's recipe for The Enchanted Broccoli Forest. But I have to give it Mollie, how could a veggie kid not want to eat that recipe? Enchanted? Forest? Broccoli that looks like trees? She really made a recipe that was magical and delicious. To this day, I still have a special place for broccoli. I find it so comforting, and it's probably because it is tied to some of my favorite childhood memories.
While the soy curls in this recipe are optional, I still highly recommend using them. If you have soy curls available, do it! Add them in, and enjoy some extra protein and heartiness. If you don't have soy curls, this is still a very, very good comforting soup. As it cools, it will thicken. If you prefer a thinner consistency, stir in some water until it's right for you. This soup tastes good without the vegan shredded cheese, but I think it tastes even better with it. If you aren't a big fan of shredded cheese, you can skip adding it.
Vegan Broccoli Cheese Soup
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium yukon gold potato, cubed
2 ¼ cups butternut squash, cubed OR 1 10 ounce package of frozen butternut squash
2 ½ cups broth (fake chicken or vegetable)
¾ cup raw cashews, soaked for 1-2 hours in water and then, drained
1 ½-2 tsp lemon juice
1 ½-2 tsp dijon mustard
½ cup nutritional yeast
½ cup vegan shredded cheddar cheese (I used Daiya Shreds - see note above)
3 ½ cups of broccoli florets OR 1 10 ounce package of frozen broccoli florets
1 ½ cups soy curls, optional (see note above)
Salt, to taste
1. In a large, heavy pot or dutch oven, add onions, garlic, olive oil and a pinch of salt. Saute over medium heat for ~7 minutes or until the onions are golden. Add potatoes, butternut squash, and 1 cup of broth. Bring to a boil, and then, turn heat down to low. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until potatoes are very soft.
2. Add the butternut squash-potato mixture to a blender or food processor. Add the rest of the broth, the cashews, lemon juice, dijon and vegan shredded cheddar cheese (if using). Blend until completely smooth, and then, pour it back into the pot. Add broccoli and soy curls (if using), and simmer until the broccoli cooks all the way through (~10 minutes). If the soup gets too thick, add some water until it's the consistency you prefer. Taste, and adjust seasonings (more nutritional yeast? lemon? dijon?). Serve with vegan shredded cheese on top.