What’s easy, convenient, nutritious and greets you with a delicious, welcome smell when you come home hungry? A hearty, vegan soup prepared in your slow cooker is just the comforting meal you need for this busy time right before spring begins. Luckily, there are many simple plant-based soup recipes that are perfect for the slow cooker.
6 popular vegan soups for the slow cooker
Slow cooker soups are popular because they’re usually a one-pot meal. You place all the ingredients in at once, go to work for eight hours, and the cooker slowly does its job.
Here’s a roundup of simple vegan soup recipes to get you through the end of winter and the chilly start of spring.
Vegan cream of mushroom soup
Vegan cream of mushroom has that thick texture and subtle flavor many folks find comforting in the cold season. This recipe from Holy Cow! uses only 10 ingredients: mushrooms, oil, onions, flour, garlic, thyme or sage, vegetable stock, salt, pepper and nutmeg. It starts with making a roux from flour, just like a traditional cream of mushroom soup.
As the Holy Cow! website explains, a successful soup is about building layers of flavor. “Cashew cream or milk makes the best substitute for dairy cream in this recipe, because it tastes the closest, and it also doesn’t add a strong flavor that wouldn’t be in the original recipe like, say, coconut milk would.” If you prefer oil-free cooking, you can saute your mushrooms and onions in vegetable stock instead of oil.
Vegan tomato soup
Packed with antioxidants lycopene and beta-carotene, plus vitamins A and C, tomato soup packs a nutritional punch. This slow cooker soup recipe from Delish Knowledge starts with cans of tomatoes with basil and also adds fresh basil. The secret to its vegan creaminess? A quarter-cup of cashews. Want an even creamier soup? Add cashew or soy cream. You’ll need a blender or immersion blender for this recipe.
Alexandra Caspero, the registered dietitian and plant-based chef behind Delish Knowledge, doesn’t want your vegan tomato soup to be bland. “The reason that most tomato soups taste bland is that they don’t contain enough salt, especially if you are starting with unsalted tomatoes,” Caspero writes. “Don’t be afraid to add some salt to this soup.” Unless you’re on a low-salt diet, of course. Tomatoes are rich in potassium, Caspero says, which helps to counter sodium.
Vegan chicken noodle soup
Not only does “chickpea” sound like “chicken,” but some chefs use the legume for protein and bulk in their vegan chicken noodle soup recipes. If you’re feeling thrifty and industrious, you can start with dry chickpeas and soak them overnight before making this slow cooker soup, or speed things up with canned chickpeas.
Brita Britnell, a Nashville-based food photographer, posted her favorite vegan chicken noodle soup recipe on her Food with Feeling website. “One of the reasons that I love this recipe so much is that it’s ridiculously easy to make,” Britnell writes. “No sauteing of veggies beforehand or anything of the sorts.” She likes to finish off this comforting soup with a tablespoon of lemon juice.
This Vietnamese noodle soup is usually meat-based, but you can make a fabulous vegan pho in your slow cooker. Pho has four main parts: broth, noodles, protein/vegetables and garnish. “The pho broth is what gives the soup its distinct character and is the key to a successful bowl of pho,” according to the Simple Veganista website, which offers this vegan pho recipe. A combination of charred onion and ginger, lemongrass, dried shiitakes, garlic, cinnamon, carrots, star anise, fennel, peppercorns and coriander seeds add up to a complex, nuanced broth.
The garnish is one of the best things about Vietnamese dishes. Pho is usually served with a separate plate of raw veggies, including bean sprouts, Thai basil, mint, cilantro and lime wedges, to top off this comforting dish.
Slow cooker potato soup
Potato soup is easy to make and hearty. You’ll only need a few ingredients: potatoes, vegetable broth, almond milk, onion, salt and pepper. Liven it up with some dried rosemary, or sprinkle some chopped green onions on top. Veggie Balance offers this simple recipe for an excellent slow cooker potato soup.
Slow cooker French onion soup
French food in your slow cooker? Mais oui! This recipe from The Veg Life! uses mushroom broth, which you can find at Whole Foods or Walmart. Thyme, bay leaf and vinegar give this slow cooker French onion soup its flavor. The Veg Life! recommends adding vegan Provolone-style cheese.
Slow cooker tips
Slow cooking brings out flavor in foods and uses less electricity than an oven. But people are sometimes leery of leaving a slow cooker on all day while they’re at work. After all, you wouldn’t leave your stove on, so it can seem weird to do the same with your slow cooker. Instead, you could experiment with making slow cooker vegan soups while you’re spending a day at home, or cook something overnight while you sleep.
If you’re new to slow cooking, it will take you a little while to get to know your slow cooker. Most of these devices have two speeds: slow and slower. The high setting will probably cook your food in four to six hours, while the low setting will take six to 10 hours. Many recipes suggest cooking on high for the first hour and then turning it down for the duration. To understand slow cooking, consider that one hour in a 350-degree oven equals approximately four hours on the high setting or eight hours on low in the slow cooker.
Keep the lid on as much as possible while you’re cooking, as lifting the lid makes your dinner quickly lose its heat. Note that liquids don’t boil off in a slow cooker as they would on the stove top, so you might need to add less water or broth than you’d expect.
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