Could there ever be a more satisfying food in the dead of winter than a steaming bowl of soup? It’s obvious the entire world agrees since virtually every cuisine has produced at least one distinctive soup: the Italians gave us minestrone; India gave us dal; Mexico has gazpacho; the Russians love their borscht, and hot-and-sour soup is a mainstay of Chinese cooking. All these soups are either always vegan or can easily be prepared vegan.
Most soups are loaded with veggies or beans and are therefore super nutritious. But before we go any further it’s important to acknowledge that soup tends to be loaded with salt—often in shocking amounts—even though it rarely tastes particularly salty. For comparison’s sake, one can of Amy’s Minestrone soup has two-and-a-half times more sodium than two ounces of Kettle Chips’ Sea Salt & Vinegar potato chips. This is not to say that you should never eat soup; only that salt has a way of disappearing into it and that there’s no other commonly-eaten food that has so much sodium per serving. If you eat soup on a near-daily basis it’s wise to be conscious of how much sodium you’re taking in. And if you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure it may be wise to avoid soup entirely.
Now that we’ve gotten our cautionary statements about salt out of the way let’s look at how easy it is to incorporate more delicious soups into your diet.
There is a wide assortment of canned vegan soups on the market. You should also know that Dr. McDougall’s Right Foods offers an entire line of all-vegan soup cups—just add boiling water, stir, cover, and wait five minutes. McDougall soup cups are perfect for camping—there’s no easier way to warm up with a hot meal. It’s probably best to think of these as convenience foods for when you need something in just a few minutes.
Neither canned soups nor soup cups can compare to the textures and flavors you’ll get by making soup from scratch. A comprehensive vegan cookbook like Vegan Planet or the Oh She Glows Cookbook will provide enough soup recipes to keep you going for months. If that’s not sufficient there are several cookbooks devoted entirely to vegan soup. We especially recommend Mark Reinfeld’s Soup’s On and Nava Atlas’ Vegan Soups and Hearty Stews for All Seasons.
Soups have traditionally been made in kettles but most people today will find that slow-cookers get the job done better and more conveniently. With a slow-cooker there’s no need to keep watch over the pot to prevent it from boiling over. All you need to do is go away for a few hours and when you return your soup will be slow-simmered to perfection.
Not only are slow-cookers ridiculously useful, they are also among the cheapest kitchen appliances you can buy—good units start at under $20. And slow-cookers are good for far more than just soup—they’re ideal for everything from oatmeal and other hot breakfast cereals to stews and even lasagne.
Another kitchen appliance that many soup-lovers turn to is a pressure cooker. These devices can cut your soup’s cooking time by 80 percent, or more versus a slow-cooker. They especially useful for soups made with dried beans, as these beans otherwise require extended cooking times.
One last inexpensive cooking tool will be massively appreciated by vegan soup lovers—an immersion blender. You dip these into your hot kettle of soup right before serving and blend some of the beans or vegetables. This makes your broth creamy rather than watery and dramatically increases its flavor.
Soups offer one of the easiest ways for novice cooks to prepare delicious foods from scratch. If you can chop vegetables and boil water you can make a delicious soup. Now just pair it with a good crusty slice of bread and you’ve got an easy, delicious, light yet filling meal.