Vegan cooking: Work these soups into your regular rotation

From beans to vegan meatballs and cheese, these soups will warm up your winter.

Vegan soups (Susan Alexander / For the News Tribune)

January is a perfect month to dive into a steaming bowl of soup. In our home, Monday has always been soup day. When I worked Monday through Friday, I’d make soup on Sunday, refrigerate it overnight, and heat it up when I got home from work on Monday — easy! All of these recipes are vegan, meaning they contain no meat, dairy or other animal products. Soup at our house is usually served with artisan bread and fresh fruit.

Navy Bean Soup

This recipe is great made in the crockpot with the mashed potatoes added a half-hour before serving. This recipe is easy to halve if you’re not feeding an army.

2 stalks celery, sliced

1 large onion, chopped


1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 teaspoon canola oil

4 cans navy beans, slightly mashed (about 6 cups of beans)

2 cups mashed potatoes (leftovers are great)

6 cups vegetable broth or bouillon

Sauté celery, onion and garlic in canola oil until softened. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Serve hot. Serves 10.

meatball soup.JPG
Meatball Soup (Susan Alexander / For the News Tribune)


Meatball Soup

1 chopped onion

2 small zucchinis, chopped

1 teaspoon canola oil

¼ teaspoon pepper

Two 14-oz cans stewed tomatoes

One 15-oz can tomato sauce

2 cups not-beef bouillon or vegetable bouillon

½ cup uncooked macaroni or small shell pasta


1 tablespoon Italian seasonings

1 package frozen vegan meatballs (I like the Gardein brand )

Sauté onion and zucchinis in canola oil until tender. Add in everything else, except meatballs. Bring to a boil and simmer until pasta is tender, about 8 minutes. Add meatballs and cook until heated through. Serves 6.

carrot soup.JPG
Carrot Soup (Susan Alexander / For the News Tribune)

Carrot Soup with Cardamom and Cashews

1 onion, diced

3 garlic cloves, diced

10 carrots, diced


2 tablespoons canola oil

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste)

4 cups vegetable bouillon

1 cup cashew butter

1 cup coconut milk

Salt and pepper to taste


Sauté onion, garlic and carrots in canola oil for 10 to 15 minutes. Add seasonings, stir well, and let cook for two minutes. Add the bouillon and cashew butter, bring to a boil, and simmer for 10 minutes. Puree the soup, add coconut milk, season with salt and pepper, and serve. Serves 6.

tomato soup.JPG
Tomato Soup (Susan Alexander / For the News Tribune)

Tomato Soup

How can anything this simple to prepare taste so good?

2 cans diced tomatoes (I like Hunt's petite diced)

1 cup water

1 cup soy creamer

Salt and pepper to taste


Place all ingredients in a saucepan and heat gently. Do not boil. Serve with crackers. If you want cream of tomato soup, puree the ingredients before heating. Serves 4.

Mushroom Cauliflower Soup

The recipe makes enough to feed at least 10 people, so you may want to halve the recipe. The leftovers are great heated up the next day.

8 cups water

5½ cups sliced mushrooms

2 cups chopped onion

2 cups chopped celery

¾ cup hulled or pearled barley

4 tablespoons vegan margarine

¼ cup low sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon garlic powder

4 teaspoons dried basil

1 large head cauliflower cut into bite-sized pieces

2 cups cubed red potato

¾ cup carrot, diced

One 10-oz package frozen peas

2 to 3 tablespoons lemon juice

In a large pot, bring the water, mushrooms, onion, celery, barley, margarine and soy sauce to a boil. Reduce heat and add garlic and basil. Simmer, covered, about 30 minutes or until the barley is tender. Add cauliflower, potato and carrot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and continue simmering, covered, until vegetables are tender, about 15 more minutes. Reduce heat, add peas and lemon juice, and heat a few more minutes. Serve hot. Serves 10.

lentil soup.JPG
Tomato Lentil Soup (Susan Alexander / For the News Tribune)

Tomato Lentil Soup

2 tablespoons canola oil

2 cups onions, chopped

2 cups carrots, diced

1 garlic clove, minced

8 cups vegetable or not-beef bouillon or broth

1½ cups dry brown or green lentils

One 14-oz can tomato sauce

1/3 cup small pasta such as orzo, acini di pepe, or alphabets

parsley for garnish

Sauté the onion, carrots and garlic in the canola oil until tender. Add the broth and heat to boiling. Stir in the lentils and tomato sauce. Cook covered until the lentils are tender, about 20 minutes. Stir in pasta and cook about 10 minutes or until pasta is done. Serve garnished with parsley. Serves 8-10.

black bean soup.JPG
Crockpot Orange Bean Soup (Susan Alexander / For the News Tribune)

Crockpot Orange Bean Soup

This recipe is adapted from one found on the website, an interesting website that I visited early in my vegan journey. The original recipe is made overnight in the crockpot and has the addition of chipotle peppers. I’m not a fan of chipotle, but I’m not above throwing a dried ancho pepper into a pot when cooking beans.

This recipe serves a crowd, and my crockpot isn’t large enough to accommodate two pounds of dried beans, so I halve the recipe and freeze the leftovers in quart-sized plastic containers.

8 cloves garlic

2 large onions, chopped

1 teaspoon canola oil

1 pound dried pinto beans

1 pound dried black beans

2 teaspoons dried sage

4 teaspoons dried oregano

1 tablespoon dried cilantro

5 bay leaves

12 cups water

6 ounces orange juice concentrate

6 oz tomato paste

Sauté onions and garlic in oil until the onions soften and turn transparent. Place the onions, garlic and next seven ingredients in a crockpot and cook on high for about 4 hours or until the beans are soft and falling apart. Use a potato masher to mash up some of the beans for a thicker soup. Remove bay leaves and add orange juice and tomato paste before serving. Serves 16-20.

Zuppa Toscana (Susan Alexander / For the News Tribune)

Zuppa Toscana

Bulk vegan Italian sausage can be hard to find. It’s easy to make your own by buying a tube of Gimme Lean beef-style product then kneading in Italian seasonings, a little red pepper flake and fennel seed. Another option is just to slice up a vegan Italian sausage to add to the soup. I’m partial to Tofurkey Italian sausage links, but when it comes to brands of vegan sausage, they’re all good.

1 tablespoon olive oil, divided and as needed

1 pound bulk vegan Italian sausage

¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 onion, diced

4 cups vegetable broth

3 small red potatoes, cubed

2 cups kale, finely chopped

1 cup soy cream

salt and pepper to taste

vegan parmesan cheese for garnish, if desired

Sauté bulk vegan Italian sausage or Italian sausage slices in a little oil until crisp and browned. Set aside. In a large soup pot, sauté pepper flakes, garlic and onion in oil until softened. Add in vegetable broth, red potatoes and kale and cook for about 10 minutes or until potatoes are soft. Add in soy cream and the cooked Italian sausage. Salt and pepper to taste and garnish if desired. Serve immediately. Serves 4-5.

African Spicy Sesame Soup.JPG
African Spicy Sesame Soup (Susan Alexander / For the News Tribune)

African Spicy Sesame Soup

½ cup tahini (sesame seed paste)

1 can chopped tomatoes

2 celery stalks, chopped

1 finely chopped large onion

1 teaspoon of fresh ginger

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon each ground turmeric, coriander, cumin and cardamom

Water or soy milk for thinning

Combine ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. Thin with water or soy milk, if needed. Heat gently on the stove until piping hot. Garnish with a little toasted sesame seed oil and Sriracha, if desired. Serves 2-3.

Dill Pickle Soup

The first time I made this soup, I had only one bowl because my daughter ate the rest. It’s that good, although I’ll concede that dill pickle soup is not everybody’s cup of tea. This recipe makes enough to feed 10 people, so unless you have a lot of hungry people for dinner, I advise that you halve the recipe. (You don’t want to be eating dill pickle soup for a week, do you?)

5½ cups vegetable broth

2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and diced

2 cups chopped carrots (small dice)

½ cup all-purpose flour

1 cup vegan sour cream

2 cups water

1 cup chopped dill pickles (small dice, about 3 large whole dills)

½ cup dill pickle juice

1½ teaspoons Old Bay seasoning (I use the low sodium variety)

½ teaspoon coarsely ground pepper

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

garnish: sliced dill pickles and black pepper

In a large pot, combine broth, potatoes and carrots. Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are tender. In a medium bowl, stir together flour, sour cream and water, making a paste. Scoop out about ¼ cup of the broth from the potatoes and carrots, mix into the sour cream mixture, then add this thinned sour cream mixture to the pot.

Add the pickles, pickle juice, Old Bay, pepper and cayenne. Cook 5 more minutes and remove from heat. Serve immediately. This soup is great warmed up the next day and the day after that — and the day after that! Serves 10.

cabbage beer soup.JPG
Beer Cheese Soup with Cabbage (Susan Alexander / For the News Tribune)

Beer Cheese Soup with Cabbage

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 large onion, chopped

3 carrots, chopped

2 teaspoons dried thyme

6 cloves of garlic, minced

4 red potatoes cut in bite-sized pieces

1 small head of cabbage, chopped

6 cups hot water

5 teaspoons bouillon powder

1 bay leaf

salt and pepper

1 bottle or can of beer

“Cheese” ingredients:

One 12-oz package silken tofu

3 cloves of garlic, minced

3 tablespoons tahini

½ cup nutritional yeast

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

1½ tablespoons soy sauce

In a large pot, saute onions and carrots in oil until softened. Add thyme, garlic, potatoes and cabbage. Saute briefly, then add water, bouillon and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then turn down heat and simmer for about 20 minutes.

Blend "cheese" ingredients in a blender, adding a little water if needed. Remove soup pot from heat and add the beer and blended cheese ingredients. Season with salt and pepper.

If you want a thicker soup, add some of the cabbage mixture to the blender, whirl briefly, and stir back into the soup pot. Serves 6.

Did you know?

In addition to the well-known positive effects on bowel health, a high-fiber diet reduces the risk of cancers of the colon and breast, diabetes, heart disease, obesity and premature death. Fiber is naturally concentrated in only one place: whole plant foods. Processed foods have less fiber and animal-derived foods have no fiber at all.

Susan Alexander loves gardening, farmers' markets and creating delicious meals consisting of whole grains, fresh vegetables and fruits.

Susan Alexander
Susan Alexander

What To Read Next
Get Local