Vegan taste bud reacclimation syndrome (VTBRS): When you’ve been vegan for so long now that animal food is no longer appealing or tempting, and to be honest, you’re starting to forget what it tastes like.
- Revulsion at the site of up-close burgers and melty cheese being pulled apart on fast food commercials.
- Saying things like “These vegan nachos are better than the original!” or “Shitake mushrooms are so meat-y.” …While your friends look at you with a combination of disbelief and pity.
Prognosis: Hours spent trying to convince your friends that crossing over to the dark side (veganism) really is better and that all the flavors are delicious and that life without blue cheese is more than livable.
This weekend one of my best friends was visiting, and she humored me by eating vegan food with me at every meal. For dinner on Saturday, I decided to pull out an old standby for impressing non-vegans, Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s Broccoli “Cheese” Soup.
I tweaked it a little, swapping in some potatoes for half the cashew cream and adding extra lemon and turmeric.
When we sat down to dinner, I was so relieved to hear her say things like: “The flavors go together so well!” and “This soup is restaurant quality!” and “I’m so full!”
I chimed in with, “I know! It’s JUST like broccoli cheese soup!”
“Weelllll, I wouldn’t go that far,” she said, “I think it’s been awhile since you’ve had broccoli cheese soup.”
::balloon deflates:: This is VTBRS.
Now don’t be mislead. This soup is sooo good. The tangy-salty miso blends with the nutritional yeast and lemon to give it the kind of mic-dropping umami that people on TV food competitions dream of. And it’s packed with veggies!
But I get it. Making a vegan replacement of something is kind of like setting yourself up for disappointment. In many cases (but not all—I stand by vegan queso), it’s pretty unlikely that you’ll be able to *perfectly* replicate the texture and flavor of something highly reliant on animal products. So instead of throwing up quotation marks and calling something “beef” chili or nacho “cheeze,” why not just call it what it is?
Here’s why: Because what it IS is usually something with a ridiculously long description. And how do you cue to the person reading the recipe or sitting down at the table that this sandwich is going to be very like a BLT without mentioning a BLT and incurring the horror of realizing it has tempeh bacon and not actual pig?
And for that matter, if you’re surfing the internet for vegan tuna salad, you would never know to type in “chickpea nori salad” instead. It’s just so much easier to call vegan dishes by the non-vegan name that inspired them. But it makes vegan food seem like it’s trying to be something it’s not. Crisis!
Take this soup, for example.
Isa calls her version, simply, “Broccoli Cheese Soup.”
Simple, but a little misleading. The texture isn’t as velvetty (or heavy) as the original.
For my potato-y version, you could also go with:
Broccoli, Carrot, and Potato Cream Soup with Tangy Miso, Nutritional Yeast, and Lemon
Maybe, but not exciting enough.
Cream of Broccoli Soup
But what about all the other stuff?
or the name my friend thought of that I think is the most descriptive and appetizing, Broccoli Carrot Bisque.
But all of this is irrelevant to you. What you need to know? This soup is damn delicious, it’s easy to make (and forgiving—hence my potato version), and if you like broccoli cheese soup, you will love this stuff.
And while it might not taste exaaaactly like the broccoli cheese soup you get in a bread bowl at Panera, I’m not sure that’s a bad thing. 😉
Fellow vegans, do you get VTBRS as well??
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- ½ cup chopped white onion (about ½ a medium onion)
- 2 large cloves minced garlic
- 4 cups chopped broccoli florets and stalks (about 2 large heads broccoli)
- 1-1½ cups diced russet potato (about 1 medium)
- 1 cup diced carrots carrots (about 3 small-medium)
- 1 Tablespoon ground turmeric
- 4 cups vegetable stock
- ½ cup cashews (soaked in filtered water for 2+ hours)
- 1–1½ cups water
- 3 Tablespoons yellow miso paste
- 2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 2-4 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice (juice of about 1-2 lemons)
- Soak ½ cup cashews in filtered water.
- Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.
- Add the onions and stir occasionally, until fragrant and translucent (~5 minutes).
- Add the garlic and cook till fragrant (~1 minute).
- Add the broccoli, potato, carrots, turmeric, and vegetable stock. Bring to a steady simmer (not an aggressive boil) and cook with the lid on for 10-15 minutes, until the carrots are easy to cut with a sharp knife but not mushy.
- Meanwhile, drain the cashews and add to a food processor with the miso paste, nutritional yeast, and 1 cup water. Purée until completely smooth, adding more water if it’s too thick.
- Add the cashew cream to the soup and use an immersion blender to purée to desired consistency. I like it to be smooth with just a few visible chunks of vegetable.
- Return to a simmer and remove from heat. Season with lemon juice to taste, starting with 2 Tablespoons and going from there. The more lemon you add, the tangier and more acidic the soup will be.
- Serve with hunks of bread or crackers, and try topping it with fresh tomatoes, scallions, or croutons.
The Waco Vegan is no longer updated. You can find me over at RandleBrowning.com instead.