Soup WITHOUT Meat? Here’s How!

Do you love to cook soup? If so, you might be a genius, at least according to Abraham Maslow, architect of the famous “Hierarchy of Needs.” He said that “a first-rate soup is more creative than a second-rate painting.” One thing’s for sure, it’s therapeutic to make soup, in more ways than one. And since soup season is at our door, let’s talk soup.

Vegan soups, specifically. If you’re leaning towards using more veggies and less meat this fall and winter, soup’s a good place to experiment with that. Of course, many of the world’s great soups are already vegan or vegan-friendly. Italian minestrone, Indian dal, Canadian split pea, and Japanese miso can all be easily made without the use of animal products, so these recipes are a good place to start minimizing the meat in your diet.

But if you want to know more, read on. I just received information from a favorite site, Food Revolution Network ( on how to make a few simple substitutions that will produce vegan soups that are indistinguishable, or actually tastier, than their meat-based counterparts. Yippee!

For instance, it’s easy to swap in beans or lentils in soups that traditionally feature meat. This is because traditionally the main purpose of meat in many soups is for flavor rather than texture. Thus, you can approximate the body of a meat soup by varying how long you cook the legumes. Take black beans: you can cook them for a short time so they maintain their individuality (such as in a Mexican bean and sweet potato soup), or you can cook them much longer to get a creamy, Cuban black bean soup.

But, if you think those chunks of sausage in your minestrone or pasta e fagioli will be deeply missed, you can always toss in some vegan sausage. The nice thing about including these plant-based meat substitutes is that you don’t need a lot; even two or three bites of Field Roast® or Beyond Sausage® per bowl will provide the mouthfeel and flavor that you’re wanting.

If you look to bouillon cubes, powder, or paste to impart the same hearty, umami flavor that meat stock provides, be sure to read labels (to avoid excess sodium and hydrogenated oils). It’s actually very easy to make your own bouillon from common spices and some nutritional yeast and powdered mushrooms.

And you can also cook up soup stock from onions, carrots, celery, mushrooms, spinach, leeks, and any herbs you like. To save money, use kitchen scraps like the carrot tops, onion peels, and the ends of celery. You can freeze scraps as you generate them and then pull them for soup-making when you’ve collected enough.

Take a look at this recipe for oil- and salt-free vegan bouillon that you can freeze in ice cube trays. It’s courtesy of Kathy Hester, creator of a favorite site, Plant Based Instant Pot (she even wrote a cookbook titled THE ULTIMATE VEGAN COOKBOOK FOR YOUR INSTANT POT). She says, “Bouillon is broth’s practical big sister. But both bring the depth of flavor that your soups, stews, and other recipes need.”

Vegan Instant Pot Bouillon Without Salt or Oil


1/2 cup water
2 large onions quartered
6 medium carrots cut into 2- to 3-inch pieces
4 stalks celery cut into 2- to 3-inch pieces
3 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried rosemary optional

1 cup nutritional yeast

For your pressure cooker:
1. Add the water, onions, carrots, celery and herbs to your Instant Pot liner.
2. Put the lid on and cook with manual/pressure cook on high pressure for 10 minutes.
3. Let the pressure release naturally.
For the blender:
1. Carefully scoop the cooked veggies and broth into your blender.
2. Add the nutritional yeast. Blend until smooth.
NOTES: Store what you can use in a week in the refrigerator. Freeze the rest in ice-cube trays and put into resealable containers. Use 1 to 2 cubes in place of 1 commercial bouillon cube.

Recipe formatted with the Cook'n Recipe Software from DVO Enterprises.

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    Alice Osborne
    Weekly Newsletter Contributor since 2006
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