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Thread: ISO your best vegetarian soups

  1. #1

    ISO your best vegetarian soups

    We've been doing soup nights with two other families lately and it's our turn to host. The host generally makes two soups and dessert, then one guest family brings salad and the other brings a cocktail. Two of the guests are lacto-vegetarians, so milk or cheese is OK but nothing with meat broth. I am finding that all my tried and true soups rely on meat or meat broth. I've tried several vegetarian soups from cookbooks/websites but nothing has wowed me yet. I need something really great since I'm not making anything but soup!

    Anyone have something to recommend?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Houston, TX
    This recipe calls for chicken broth but veggie broth can be substituted if desired. We use low-sodium versions of the broth and canned veggies and add a little more sea salt to taste at the end. You can also use diced tomatoes with green chiles for a subtly different flavor or throw in a finely minced jalapeno or two for a hot-head crowd (habanero for serious hot-heads!) I've always received compliments on this one and most folks will never guess that pumpkin is one of the ingredients. I like to sprinkle toasted pumpkin seeds on top just before serving and a dollop of sour cream, Mexican crema, or some crumbled queso fresco on each serving doesn't hurt either. It's easy to fix ahead and holds well.

    Caribbean Pumpkin Soup (4 servings)

    2/3 cup each chopped onion and red bell pepper
    2 tsp minced garlic
    1 tsp ground cumin
    2-1/2 cups chicken broth
    1 can (15 oz) pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie mix!)
    1 can (15 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained
    1 can (14-1/2 oz) diced tomatoes, drained
    ¼ tsp each salt and pepper

    Coat a medium saucepan with nonstick spray; heat over medium heat.
    Add onion and bell pepper and sauté about 5 minutes until vegetables are tender.
    Stir in garlic and cumin and cook 1 minute.
    Stir in broth, pumpkin puree, beans, tomatoes, and salt and pepper.
    Bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover and simmer 5 minutes to blend flavors.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    San Francisco
    As anyone who's been around here for a while knows, I make a LOT of soup! (Or, at least, I used to.)

    I don't care much for meat of any type in soup (except perhaps in very limited quantities) but do prefer chicken stock to vegetable broth - but that's a very small accommodation for making soup vegetarian!

    How is everyone on mushrooms? I absolutely love mushroom chowder, esp if you have access to a variety of interesting mushrooms. I'll post that one just in case you have any interest. Since you say dairy is OK, Moosewood's Very Creamy Vegetable Chowder is a huge crowd-pleaser with vegetarians and omnivores alike. I also created a vegetarian version of Joe's Lasagne Soup that was much beloved by a coworker who grew up on vegetarian Indian cooking at home, and all-American fare at school. He called it the best soup he'd ever had.
    Oh, and another is Mexican lentil soup from one of the Greens cookbooks. I'm not mad about lentils, but that soup has layer upon layer of flavor.
    Got to run and finish something for work, but I'll post those recipes and hope one is helpful!
    Happiness is not a goal, it is a byproduct. - Eleanor Roosevelt

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Kenmore NY, near Buffalo
    Finding a good veg broth is likely the key to having a "wow" reaction. I'd suggest looking for Better than Bouillion veg base, for a start. It's tastier and more economical than canned or those aseptic quarts of veg broth.

    Or make your own.

    Here's a good thread Canice started once, and in the post below, my favorite soup.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Kenmore NY, near Buffalo
    Here's the soup I make that my guests always go gaga for:


    2 Tbsp EVOO

    1 1/2 C chopped onion

    1/2 tsp each dried thyme and oregano

    1-3 cloves garlic, chopped fine

    1/2 tsp fennel seed

    3-4 plum tomatoes, chopped

    1 28-oz can crushed tomotoes, or whatever kind of canned tomatoes you have on hand

    4 C water

    2 C fresh or frozen thawed corn kernels

    1/4 C flour

    1 C heavy cream

    1/4 C fresh chopped parsley, or 1/2 C mixed chopped parsley, dill and/or basil

    salt and pepper

    In a big pot or dutch oven, saute the onions till soft in the EVOO, along with the thyme, oregano & fennel. Add garlic and fresh tomatoes, saute until fragrant.**

    Add the water and canned tomatoes bring to a boil, then decrease and simmer, covered, for 30-45 minutes. Take the corn out to thaw while soup is simmering, no need to nuke it.

    In a small bowl, use a mini-whisk or fork to mix the cream and flour till smooth. Add a small amount of the broth to the cream, mixing gently, then ad all of cream mixture back into the pot, keeping heat low-- add corn, fresh herbs and S&P to taste, starting with about 1 tsp salt.

    Heat gently to a simmer till warmed through; do not boil! excellent topped with sharp cheddar or croutons, served with rolls or a spinach salad.

    **Mari's notes-- at the point of sauteing onions, you can ad other chopped veg such as small diced potato, zucchini slices, sweet potato, squash or carrot.

    Cabbage or broccoli are best steamed separately and added with the corn. Spinach goes in nicely then, too.

    I often do a southwest version, using carrot and or/zucchini and fresh or dried ground chilis, using cumin or coriander and fresh coriander in place of the thyme and parlsey. Kidney beans work well there, added w/the corn.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2000
    Better than Bouillon is pretty good stuff. They also make a Vegetarian No Chicken Base and a No Beef Base and a Mushroom Base. Depending on where you live, you may have to shop around a bit. I ordered them online at first but now a couple of the health food stores have started carrying them.

    I like their vegetable base but it's tomato based, which I don't always want in a soup, so if I need vegetarian, I tend to use the No Chic or No Beef. The mushroom base used in small quantities can give a meaty almost beefy flavor to the soup (a small amount of soy sauce can help with that too). (I really love the No Chic, we usually serve both meat eaters and vegans on the holidays and I modify my turkey gravy recipe to use it to make a veg gravy for the vegan part of the meal).

    The No Chicken makes a pretty good chicken noodle soup. I just made a vegetarian batch of the Chicken Coconut Noodle Soup recipe I posted using the No Chicken base, vegetarian fish sauce and Soy Curlz (for the chicken).

    A little bit of liquid smoke and veggie bacon bits can sub for bacon or ham in potato or bean soup.

    You can buy veggie sausage like Italian and chorizo and they're great crumbled up in soup (the Italian is also awesome crumbled up in lasagna or spaghetti sauce).

    Here's several recipes that I make meat versions and vegetarian versions of...

    Chicken Coconut Noodle Soup is here

    I like this one with a spicy lamb kielbasa I get at the farmers' market but it's also good with a spicy veg Italian sausage.

    Italian Sausage and Squash Soup

    1 lb bulk Italian sausage
    2 Tbs olive oil, divided
    1 1/2 cups diced onion
    2 Tbs minced garlic
    1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into 1-inch chunks
    1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
    2 cups chicken broth
    2 cups water
    1 cup diced red bell pepper
    1/2 cup heavy cream
    1 tsp sage
    1 tsp sugar
    2 cups packed baby spinach
    3 Tbs brandy
    Salt and pepper

    Brown sausage in 1 Tbs oil over med-high heat. Drain and set aside. Sweat onion, garlic and pepper in 1 Tbs oil over med heat until soft, about 5 minutes. Increase heat to med-high, add squash and pepper flakes and sauté 5 minutes. Add broth and water, bring to a boil and simmer until squash is very soft, about 10 minutes.

    Puree with stick blender, then add cream, sage and sugar. Simmer until pepper is tender. Stir in spinach, brandy and sausage, simmer until spinach wilts and sausage is heated through, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

    I've done this one using the No Chicken Base and veggie chic.

    Curried Chicken Noodle Soup

    6 cups chicken broth
    1-2 Tbs green Thai curry paste
    2 chicken breasts, diced
    1 sweet potato, peeled and diced
    1 tomato, diced
    5 oz noodles (use a pkg of ramen, minus the seasoning packet)
    1 cup coconut milk
    1/2 cup chopped cilantro

    Bring broth to a boil. Add curry paste, chicken and sweet potato. Cook until chicken is done and sweet potato is tender. Add coconut milk, tomato and noodles. Heat through. Sprinkle with cilantro.

    Notes: You can toss more veggies in there if you'd like. Corn is nice. Straw mushrooms...

    This one also works good with the No Chicken Base.

    Cream of Spinach Soup

    1 onion
    1 stick celery
    1 carrot
    2 cloves garlic
    1 potato, diced
    3 Tbs butter
    1/4 cup flour
    1 pkg frozen spinach, thawed and drained
    salt and pepper to taste
    1 bay leaf
    2 pinches celery seed
    3 1/2 cups water
    4 tsp chicken base
    2 cups fat-free Half & Half (or heavy cream)
    3/4 cup small curd cottage cheese

    Finely mince onion, celery and garlic (or chop in food processor). Melt butter in a large saucepan and saute onion mixture and potato until tender. Stir in flour, then chicken base. Add water a bit at a time, stirring constantly, until thickened. Stir in spinach, salt and pepper, bay leaf and celery seeds. Reduce heat and let simmer 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

    Gradually stir in Half & Half and continue stirring until thickened. Stir in cottage cheese and heat through. Taste for seasoning and serve.

    My Notes: There's a restaurant called Riefe's in Davenport, Iowa, near where my parents used to live. They have a cream of spinach soup that is to die for and this was my attempt to duplicate it.
    For those in touch with it, Reality is the leading cause of stress.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    San Francisco
    Here are a couple to get started. Do you have any particular ingredients or flavor profile you particularly like? There's some lovely springtime produce out there right now, and nicely rounded out with orzo.

    Vegetarian Lasagne Soup
    Well darn it, apparently I never wrote an official recipe, but here are my notes on how I adapted the original recipe:
    • add 1 cup chopped red bell pepper
    • add 8 oz chopped zucchini
    • replace sausage with 20 oz chopped cremini mushrooms, sautéed in a little olive oil and 3/4 t. fennel seed
    • use 5 oz campanelle pasta, cooked separately and added in at the end

    Lasagna Soup (Adapted from Cuisine at Home)

    16 ounces hot Italian turkey sausage
    2 cups diced onions
    1 cup diced carrots
    5 garlic cloves, minced
    1/2 teaspoon dried basil
    1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
    1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
    1/8 teaspoon salt
    1/8 teaspoon pepper
    4 cups chicken broth
    14 1/2 ounce can fire roasted crushed tomatoes
    10 ounces tomato sauce
    1 cup dry Campanelle pasta
    2 cups chopped fresh spinach
    4 ounces diced provolone cheese
    1 ounce fresh grated Parmesan cheese
    1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sliced fresh basil

    In a dutch oven over medium-high, add sausage and cook until browned - crumble the sausage as you go with a wooden spoon. Add the onions and carrots - cook 3 minutes. Mix in the garlic, basil, oregano, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper - cook 1 minute. Pour in the broth, crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce. Bring to a boil and add in the pasta. Simmer soup until the pasta has cooked. Mix in the fresh spinach and cook until wilted - about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat.

    To serve - place 1 ounce of diced provolone in the bottom of 4 bowls. Evenly divide the soup between the 4 bowls. Sprinkle each serving with Parmesan and basil.

    Very Creamy Vegetable Chowder
    From Moosewood Restaurant Daily Special by The Moosewood Collective

    This is a crowd-pleasing Moosewood standard. There is nothing more appealing and satisfying than a sweet, fresh vegetables in a smooth, saucy Cheddar and cream cheese base: it's food that makes you feel safe and sound and well cared for.

    This soup is sweet and mild and filled with enough vegetables for one meal, so serve it with a peppery little salad for contrast.

    Serves 8 to 10
    Yields 11 cups
    Total time: 50 minutes

    2 cups chopped onions
    1 tablespoon butter
    1 tablespoon canola or other vegetable oil
    2 celery stalks, diced
    1 cup peeled and diced carrots
    1 1/2 cups diced potatoes
    3 cups water or Basic Light Vegetable Stock
    1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
    1 bay leaf
    1 1/2 teaspoons salt
    1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
    1/2 cup green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
    1/2 cup diced red bell peppers
    1 cup diced zucchini
    1/2 cup fresh or frozen green peas
    2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
    2 cups milk
    1 cup grated Cheddar cheese
    2 ounces Neufchatel or cream cheese
    In a large soup pot on medium heat, sauté the onions in the butter and oil for 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the celery, cover, and cook until just soft, stirring occasionally. Add the carrots, potatoes, water or stock, thyme, bay leaf, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil; then reduce the heat, cover, and simmer until the vegetables are just tender, about 5 minutes. With a strainer or slotted spoon, remove about 1 1/2 cups of the cooked vegetables and set aside in a blender or food processor.

    Add the green beans, bell peppers, and zucchini to the soup pot and cook until the green beans are tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the peas and parsley, simmer for 2 more minutes, and then remove from the heat. Discard the bay leaf.

    Puree the reserved vegetables with the milk and cheeses to make a smooth sauce. Stir the sauce into the soup and gently reheat. Serve hot.

    Canice's changes:
    • Use 1 cup of milk, not 2
    • Add the carrots at the same time as the celery
    • Add more fresh herbs at the end if you have them on hand
    • Stir in some chopped fresh spinach at the end if you have it
    Happiness is not a goal, it is a byproduct. - Eleanor Roosevelt

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    I love the idea of your get-togethers. It seems so manageable and low-stress. Here are a few vegetarian soup recipes that we have tried and really liked.

    I just want to add that if possible, I think its really important for soup to be made at least a day before. It just tastes so much better.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    San Francisco
    Here are some lovely soups from the organization that puts on our local farmers' market; the recipes are from local chefs, producers, cookbook authors, etc. Not all are vegetarian, but all are made with fresh, seasonal whole foods and I'm sure virtually all could be made vegetarian. I'm already getting ideas for tomorrow's market!
    Happiness is not a goal, it is a byproduct. - Eleanor Roosevelt

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    East Bay
    Are anchovies ok? I love Barbara Kafka's Bean and Swiss Chard Soup. If you do make it, don't leave out the anvhovies! They add a layer of flavor that really makes the soup.

  11. #11
    I will add my vote to Canice's recommendation of Moosewood's Very Creamy Vegetable Chowder. A very good vegetarian soup. Other ideas that come to mind would be Tyler Florence's Roasted Tomato Soup. That might not be great if you can't get a hold of really fresh tomatoes, however. A ratatouille or Giambotta are other good vegetarian "soup-like" dishes. Split pea (without the ham, of course!). Cooking Light has a nice one from Deborah Madison that is vegetarian with rosemary, tomato paste, and a bit of soy sauce. Greek Red Lentil soup (or any red lentil soup/stew) might be nice. There was a good red lentil soup from Rebar cookbook posted on this board in the past. And finally a nice hearty bean and vegetable soup (e.g. Minestrone) sans ham/pork product is nice. You could add a Parmesan cheese rind, liquid smoke, hickory smoked sea salt, etc... if you want that smoky taste. Just a few ideas.


  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    San Francisco
    Yea, I thought about that tomato soup, too, but I didn't know if most people were getting heirloom tomatoes yet. Love that Kafka soup -one of my all time favorites- but the anchovies are key, and no sub to make it vegetarian.
    I did want to say that I've gotten the recommendation for the vegetable broth on page 196 of Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone as excellent. Haven't made it yet, but hope to soon!

    In addition to smoked salt, smoked olive oil is a super tasty and natural way to add that smokiness!
    Happiness is not a goal, it is a byproduct. - Eleanor Roosevelt

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Quote Originally Posted by Canice View Post
    As anyone who's been around here for a while knows, I make a LOT of soup! (Or, at least, I used to.)
    I haven't been on here in awhile but I remember "Soup on Sunday"
    Stay-at-home mom scratch cooking for a child with a severe peanut and mustard allergy.

  14. #14

    ISO your best vegetarian soup

    I just made a few days ago a vegetable soup which I saw on the cooking chanel.
    The ingredients are: 2 leeks, 2 carrotts, 2 rutabarga, 2 artichoke hearts, 2 zucchini and I tomato (I peeled the tomato). Chop all the vegetables and saute them in olive oil till soft. Cover with water and use Vegeta seasoning to your liking. Cook them till tender and puree the soup. It was the best soup I made in a long time.

  15. #15
    Oh, thanks so much for all the help - there are great ideas here! I knew you guys would have some helpful experience for me!

    I forgot to mention that I don't eat gluten, so noodles are out, too! Bummer, because that lasagne soup sounds great. Of course, I could just not eat that one, too....

    I am glad to hear several recommendations for the Moosewood veggie chowder - I've been trying a bunch of recipes and that's on my list to try, so I'll bump that one up on the list. The tomato/corn chowder sounds good too.

    Also glad to hear recommendations for good veg broth - both homemade and not. I agree that's the key for knock-your-socks-off flavor. For this occasion, I'll probably make homemade, but it's nice to know what the best storebought options are, too.

    I like the suggestion for smoked salt, and smoked olive oil (haven't heard of that!) - I usually rely on smoked paprika for veggie smokiness.

    Unfortunately, we won't see fresh tomatoes for months!

    Thanks, everyone, for all the ideas! I can't wait to start trying them out.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    San Francisco
    Hope you find some good ones!
    A final word on the lasagne soup: it's very flavorful and I'm sure you'd like it just fine without the pasta. I cook it separately, rather than in the soup, and add it in when reheating the soup, so it would very easy to add it to only a portion of the soup.
    Happiness is not a goal, it is a byproduct. - Eleanor Roosevelt

  17. #17
    Well, our soup night finally happened Saturday night (even though it was nearly 90 degrees here and didn't really feel like soup weather). I made Canice's vegetarian adaptation of Lasagne Soup above, and a Roasted Poblano Corn Chowder from a Whole Foods cookbook. They were both very good, but Canice, your soup was the hit of the night! More than the cocktails or the dessert, what everyone kept talking about was that soup! It was really delicious and I so appreciate you taking the time to share it. I know we will make it many more times. Thank you!

    And I am looking forward to trying out a lot more soups from this thread, too. Thank you all for such great ideas!

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    San Francisco
    How nice! I'm glad everyone enjoyed it
    Happiness is not a goal, it is a byproduct. - Eleanor Roosevelt

  19. #19
    I came across this thread while looking for a recipe. There are lots of good ideas for vegetarian soups so for soup fans...

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