Easy cheesy vegan butter bean and broccoli soup

These last few weeks at school, I've been studying memory. Turns out, it's all hideously complex, fair chunks of it still haven't been worked out, and all sorts of bits in your brain feed into all sort of other bits into your brain to make the whole system work through a series of interlocked pathways.

The thing that I find fascinating is that your olfactory nerve -- that's the bit that does your sense of smell -- feeds into the parts of your brain responsible for emotions, known as the limbic system. I guess that's why catching a sniff of a perfume can you remind you in milliseconds of someone you used to know that wore it, even if you haven't seen them for years.

Maybe it's the same for food? Taste and smell are intimately related, and people often wax lyrical about the foods of their childhood (although that could well be the power of nostalgia rather than memory!)

Why I've been wondering about all this is cheese soup. I had it once, some time in my late teens, readymade from the supermarket. It was weirdly stringy, hugely fatty and a bit weird. I've only ever eaten it once, but every so often it burps out of my memory and I find myself wondering who decided to try and make a. Why, I can't tell you, yet it does.

I decided to take the bull by the horns, and make myself a vegan version of cheese soup. This one's not weirdly stringy, or hugely fatty, but it was pretty tasty, and it's a much nicer memory to have, knowing I can make this animal-free soup any time I fancy.

(As a side note, this is a great way to use up broccoli stalks. I get through a lot of a broccoli in a normal week, so when I've used up all the florets, I chuck the stalk in the fridge for recipes like this. For added goodness, if you leave out the cashews and miso, you've got a six-food elimination diet friendly recipe too.)

Easy cheesy broccoli and butter bean soup
Makes 2-3 large bowls

One small white onion, sliced
One stick of celery, diced
Two cloves of garlic sliced
250g of broccoli stalks, fibrous outside bits removed and chopped into larger chunks (you can just sub in normal broccoli if you have that, obvs!)
One tin of butter beans, drained
600-700mls vegetable stock
Juice of half a lemon
65g of cashews, soaked for a couple of hours beforehand, then drained (you can omit this for a six-food elimination diet recipe)
One teaspoon of dijon mustard
One teaspoon of miso (you can omit this for a six-food elimination diet recipe)
12g or so* of nutritional yeast

How you do it
Sweat the onion and celery for a while until soft - maybe 10 minutes or so.
Ass in the garlic, broccoli stalks, butter beans, and stock. Simmer for 15 minutes.
Separately, blend together the drained cashews, mustard, miso, and nooch to make a thick paste.
Pour the paste into the soup, and blend until smooth.

*My kitchen scales died at this point, so this is rough estimate. Add tablespoon by tablespoon, blend and taste a bit until you get to the point you like. Add more or less nooch as you fancy.


  1. This look good, esp on the student budget and busy days. I tried a vegan cheesey broccoli soup this week with chickpeas but no nuts - I think I prefer it with cashews which seem to have worked better for me in vegan cheesey soups!

  2. I like the reflective start to your post and agree that memory and our senses are incredible when you think about how they link and just how much we don't know. This soup appeals to me too, despite my own cheese associations generally being bad! I love butter beans and the flavours in your ingredient list all sound good.

  3. I haven't made many soups recently, but lots of stews with veg and beans. Your vegan cheesy broccoli soup looks lovely. I do prefer broccoli stalks to the bushy heads and your use of pine nuts elevates this humble soup to something else.

  4. I tend to think of nostalgia as happy memories. Can't say I have any memories of cheese soup good or bad, but your vegan version looks delish. :-)

  5. I loooove me some cheese soup. And way more now than before I was vegan. Because you're totally right, most non-vegan cheese soups are weirdly stringy and unappealing. This on the other hand looks really tasty :)

  6. This sounds and looks amazing! I'm not sure I've ever had a cheese soup, and this looks like a great place to start!

  7. Whooaaa yesss I love chunky broccoli soups. This looks fantastic.
    I totally know what you mean about food memories but I can't say my memories are acute enough to be able to recreate something like this. I'll stick to veganizing grilled cheese sandwiches.

  8. This sounds lovely. I like the brocolli and cheese soup in Isa Does It and this sounds even better with the butter beans.

  9. This sounds so good to me right now. I've been blundering through the many stages of upper respiratory disaster and am needing comfort. Cough Cough.


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