Broccoli Cheddar Soup (Vegan & Gluten Free)

A hearty, healthy soup made with clean ingredients that's perfect for the chilly days ahead! Just like your favorite Panera standby, except vegan and gluten free - but still goes great in a bread bowl.

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Oh my god, BECKY, it's FRIDAYYYYY! We have finally reached the finish line of the weekend and are ready to cross triumphantly, arms raised high, one clutching a wine bottle and the other clutching a very full glass. 

When I was a senior in college, my roommates and I were freaking OBSESSED with Panera. We would go there to eat, to study, to hang out - one of my roommates even took a job there when she realized she should start saving up for dental school. So, yeah. Lots of Panera. Great year.

We all had our standby favorites - the chicken noodle soup with a baguette for me, allll the bread and butter you can imagine for Emily, just an iced coffee for Jamie, and for Stacy it was the broccoli cheddar soup. Now, I was a big fan of this soup too - except that I always felt terrible after having it. Laden down with cheese and cream, it wasn't exactly easy on the stomach. 

Last week I was working from a Panera after my annual eye exam/annual spending a small fortune on contacts when the broccoli cheddar soup caught my eye. Thinking back to those horrible stomach pains, I opted for the autumn squash bisque and a thai salad with avocado instead of chicken. Still... the broccoli cheddar soup stayed on my mind.

So, I recreated it!

Introducing the best damn broccoli cheddar soup you've ever had. Filled to the brim with nutrients, spices, and protein/cheesy flavor from nutritional yeast, this is a recipe that'll have you coming back over and over again. What better way to push through the winter chill?

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

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To make this soup, you will need:
- 1 T olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 small sweet potatoes (or 1 large), peeled and diced
- 1/2 cup carrot, chopped
- 4 cups broccoli florets
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 1 1/2 T apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup cashew pieces
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 1/4 cup dill, chopped
- 1 t salt
- 2 t black pepper
- 1/4 t red pepper flakes

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Begin by prepping your vegetables: mincing your garlic, dicing your onion and sweet potatoes, chopping your carrots and floret-ing your broccoli (unless you're using pre-chopped florets like I am, thank you Trader Joe's).

Heat a large pot over medium heat and add a tablespoon or so of olive oil. Add your garlic and onion to the pot and saute, stirring frequently, until the onion is translucent (4-5 minutes). Add your carrot and sweet potato and continue to saute, stirring occasionally, another 10-12 minutes.

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Add 2 cups of veggie broth, all the cashews and your apple cider vinegar. Using a food processor or immersion blender, puree the mixture together until smooth.

NOTE: I don't have a food processor big enough to hold all of this and my blender is garbage so I used an immersion blender and it was so hard and frustrating I had to stop twice to refill my wine glass and I almost gave up 75% through. Mom, if you're reading this, please get me something that effectively purees food for Christmas THANK YOU xx

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Once your veggie mixture is pureed, add the broccoli florets and pulse until they are incorporated, but not fully pureed. Stir in the remaining veggie broth, nutritional yeast, dill and spices, then heat and serve!

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Ain't she a beaut? Healthy, too. And - confession - I've had this for each of my past 4 meals (lunch, dinner, breakfast, lunch) with a slice of buttery multigrain toast alongside and I show no signs of stopping this pattern anytime soon. Please join me on this journey of turning into a broccoli.

XOXO,
Jesse