3 Creamy, Vegan Soups for a Pre-Christmas Cleanse

(scroll to the bottom to jump to recipes)

These soups are simple and essential, as I wish my new year to be.
And as I wish my Christmas and New Year’s celebrations to be, in fact. When I switched to a mostly plant-based diet I definitely started caring for big meals a lot less. And, ironically, I started enjoying ‘rich’ dishes, such as stuffed pastas or dessert, a lot more. If there is one big tip I can give to those who need to find a balance in their meals, all I would feel like suggesting would be behaving towards eating the Mari-Kon way: remove all that is not necessary, and enjoy the extras from time to time. In fact, I suggest getting Marie Kondo‘s books and applying her philosophy to your diet in general. Beth Kirby has been talking about the same thing and it’s definitely inspirational.
I love soup because it’s simple: it tastes delicious even when only needs barely 3-4 ingredients and it’s quick to make. It can be loaded with vegetables and is as healthy and light as you want to make it. It’s just a perfect everyday food. After all, we are always drawn to the things we understand and relate to, and it’s impossible not to relate to a hot bowl of soup when it’s cold and icy outside (and, in case you want to splurge and follow with hot chocolate, here is the (giftable) recipe for that as well.)

3 Soups for a Pre-Christmas Cleanse | Hortus Natural Cooking3 Soups for a Pre-Christmas Cleanse | Hortus Natural Cooking

3 Soups for a Pre-Christmas Cleanse | Hortus Natural Cooking3 Soups for a Pre-Christmas Cleanse | Hortus Natural Cooking3 Soups for a Pre-Christmas Cleanse | Hortus Natural Cooking

So I’ll be sitting here sipping tea and soup, and planning how to make my 2018 less cluttered than my 2017. I have many plans and I’m working to make them all happen. In fact, in case you feel like spending some time here in the Italian countryside this spring or summer, I’ll probably need a collaborator…

Straight to these soups! All are vegan, but definitely benefit by the addition of a little grated cheese if you so fancy. All are super simple to make – literally throw all ingredients in a pot and blend afterwards. I used all sorts of brassicas / broccolis / cabbages and alliums, for max health benefits. If you have leaves, veggies scraps, stalks etc, throw them in as well – if you have a good blender, they’ll end up blended as well – just cook them thoroughly.
I did not add specific amounts of salt as they are very easy to customize as you please. I suggest using stock, but water with some organic veg bouillon will also do. All these soups are low in calories and I sometimes drink them as a snack as well. If you want to turn them into a complete meal, eat with cooked legumes or grains (or any other protein of choice), or with a nice slice of sourdough bread (heaven).

Romanesco Soup with Curry & Parsley

3 shallots

1 medium romanesco cabbage head, trimmed, cut and washed

Fruity extra virgin olive oil

Good vegetable stock, enough to cover (at least 4 cups)

Salt to taste

1/2 a ripe Hass avocado

Curry powder, to taste

A small bunch parsley

Extras: a little grated lemon zest, toasted nuts, Pecorino cheese

1) Remove the peel from the shallots and cut them into chunks. Cut the Romanesco into florets and add everything into a pot with a tablespoon of olive oil, enough vegetable stock to cover by an inch and a little salt. 

2) Turn on the heat to medium and cook, half-covered, until the vegetables are very tender, about 20 minutes. If you want to preserve the color 100%, you will have to cook the Romanesco in boiling salted water with some lemon juice, uncovered, until tender, about 15 minutes, and cook the shallots in a little stock on the side. In this case, make sure the stock is unsalted.

3) Once everything is cooked, blend it with an immersion blender or in a regular blender with the avocado, a couple finely chopped sprigs parsley, a pinch of curry powder, and a teaspoon extra virgin olive oil. Once blended, taste and adjust the amount of curry and salt to taste. Adjust consistency by adding more or less stock. 

4) Serve hot, topped with extra virgin olive oil, finely chopped parsley and toasted nuts - almonds or pistachios are best. If not vegan, finish with a little grated cheese of choice. 

Carrot, Leek & Turmeric Creamy Soup

1 large leek, trimmed, cleaned and cut into chunks

6 large carrots, trimmed, peeled and cut into chunks

Fruity extra virgin olive oil

2 cups unsweetened almond milk (or regular milk)

Good vegetable stock, enough to cover (at least 2 cups)

Salt to taste

Turmeric powder, to taste

Extras: a thyme or marjoram sprig, a little grated lemon zest, a dash of cinnamon, toasted pepitas, cheese and extra virgin olive oil to finish

1) Add the leek and carrots into a pot with a tablespoon of olive oil, enough vegetable stock until barely covered and a little salt. 

2) Turn on the heat to medium and cook, half-covered, until the vegetables are very tender, about 25 minutes. 

3) Once everything is cooked, blend it with an immersion blender or in a regular blender with the almond milk, finely chopped sprig thyme or marjoram, a pinch of turmeric powder, a pinch salt, and a teaspoon extra virgin olive oil. Once blended, taste and adjust the amount of  spices to taste. Add a pinch cinnamon if you like. Adjust consistency by adding more or less stock.

4) Serve hot, topped with extra virgin olive oil, a little swirl of cashew cream or regular cream, and toasted pepitas. If not vegan, finish with a little grated cheese of choice. 

Broccoli & Basil Soup with Garlicky Topping

1 medium onion 

1 garlic clove

2 small-medium broccoli heads

1 small bunch Tuscan or curly kale (about 4 leaves), stems trimmed

Fruity extra virgin olive oil

2 cups unsweetened almond milk

Salt to taste

5-6 basil leaves

GARLICKY TOPPING 
1 garlic clove, grated

1/4 cup (50g) rough whole-wheat breadcrumbs

4-5 basil leaves

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Cashew cream or regular cream, to finish

1) Trim the broccoli and peel the onions and cut them into florets and chunks. Trim and roughly chop the kale and peel the garlic clove. Add everything to a pot with a tablespoon of olive oil, enough vegetable stock to barely cover and a little salt. 

2) Turn on the heat to medium and cook, half-covered, until the vegetables are very tender, about 25 minutes. 

3) Once everything is cooked, blend with an immersion blender or  regular blender with the almond milk, basil, a pinch salt, and a teaspoon extra virgin olive oil. Once blended, taste and adjust the amount of  salt to taste. Adjust consistency by adding more or less stock or almond milk.

4) To make the garlicky crumbs, mix all the ingredients and bake in a 180 C˚/350 F˚ oven until golden brown, about 3 minutes - careful, as they burn very quickly!

4) Serve hot, topped with extra virgin olive oil, a little swirl of cashew cream or regular cream, and the garlicky crumbs. If not vegan, finish with a little grated cheese of choice. 

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