Few things are as gratifying on a cold day as a warm bowl of soup, and this is one arena in which vegetarian dishes can really stand out. Remember all those root vegetables, brassicas, grains, and beans we showcased in our collection of winter salad recipes? Many of them are perfectly appropriate for a soup, too—or a stew that's filling enough to be a meal, even without the meat. Looking for vegan options? We've got a bunch, including a rich, creamy, and fast tomato soup thickened with nothing but olive oil and bread; a slow-cooked bean chili spiked with Marmite for extra savoriness; and a stick-to-your-ribs soup that's got all the flavors of a loaded baked potato, yet is 100% dairy-free. Read on for 19 vegetarian recipes that'll furnish all the comfort you need in these blustery months.
(A note on stock: The vast majority of store-bought vegetable stock is, unfortunately, vastly disappointing. It's worth the effort to make a big batch of our heartiest, most flavorful homemade vegetable stock, or this quick and easy stock to save time.)
Lazy Day Slow-Cooker Mushroom Soup
This easy soup relies on your slow cooker to do most of the work, but roasting the mushrooms with onions and garlic beforehand greatly improves its flavor. We use a mix of heavy cream and half-and-half to make it extra rich, and cut them with a little acidity from sour cream. After cooking, purée it in the blender until it's completely smooth, or leave a few chunks in to get those little bites of roasted mushroom.
Creamy Roasted Broccoli Soup With Buttermilk and Spiced Pepitas
Roasting is a good way to get the most out of broccoli that's slightly past its prime, giving it a deep, earthy flavor that's perfect as a soup base. The smooth texture here comes not from cream but from a purée of the broccoli itself, along with sweated aromatics, vegetable stock, and a bit of bright, tangy buttermilk. For textural contrast and an extra hit of flavor, garnish the soup with toasted pepitas spiced with turmeric, cumin, coriander, and mustard.
Creamy Spiced Parsnip Soup
While we love parsnips for their sweet and earthy qualities, they lack sufficient flavor on their own to make a compelling soup. Here, we boost the parsnips with a ton of aromatics—onion, leek, garlic, celery, coriander seed, jalapeño, and ginger. The result is a silky soup that's full of clean, pure parsnip flavor, and anything but bland.
Mexican Butternut Squash Soup With Ancho Chili, Crema, and Pepitas
Like parsnips, mild butternut squash makes a great canvas for other flavors. This soup uses a Mexican flavor profile with ancho chilies, plus cilantro, lime, and a spoonful of crema or sour cream to balance the heat. Though the original recipe calls for chicken stock, vegetable broth will work equally well—and it's easily made vegan by omitting the crema.
Quick and Easy Dairy- and Fat-Free Colombian Vegetable Soup (Ajiaco Negro)
A vegetable soup that's full-bodied and hearty, without a speck of dairy or fat? Yep, it's a real thing. In this vegetarian version of Colombian ajiaco, the potatoes break down and release starch as they cook to thicken up a soup of carrots, corn, peas, fava beans, and broth. You can make it in about 45 minutes on the stovetop, but with a pressure cooker, it's done in less than half an hour.
Hearty Vegan Polenta and Kale Soup With Miso and Toasted Sesame Oil
If you plan on making lots of vegan soup this winter, two ingredients will prove invaluable to you: soy sauce and miso, both of which add a necessary hit of umami "meatiness" to vegetable-based dishes. We use them in place of Parmesan cheese in this Italian-inspired kale and polenta soup, and make it all in a single pot.
Pasta e Fagioli (Italian Bean and Pasta Soup)
This recipe is for those times when you want a soup not to start a meal, but to be the meal—a balanced, completely satisfying bowl that will fortify you against the cold. Though there are dozens of ways to make pasta e fagioli, including with meat, this one draws its flavor and texture from the pasta, beans, and aromatic broth alone, which means that quality counts. Start with good dried beans, preferably ones that haven't been sitting on your pantry shelf for years, and err on the side of overcooking them so they're soft and tender.
White Gazpacho With Grapes
The widely known tomato-based type of gazpacho absolutely demands fresh tomatoes, so it's a no-go this time of year. Fortunately, there's more than one style of gazpacho out there. Made with a simple blend of almonds, garlic, olive oil, and ice water, this is a more obscure version of the soup that's nonetheless just as traditional. A garnish of halved green grapes adds a fresh touch and sweetness to complement the soup's intense garlickiness.
Tuscan Pappa al Pomodoro (Tomato and Bread Soup)
Though it's often thought of as a summer dish, there's no reason why pappa al pomodoro—a simple, thick Tuscan soup of tomatoes and bread—can't be made in winter, since high-quality canned tomatoes will serve just as well when cooked. Make it by simmering stale, dried, or fresh bread—we've found that fresh and dried both do a fine job—in a sauce of hand-crushed tomatoes until soft and custardy, and finish it with a generous drizzle of olive oil and torn basil for a nice reminder of warmer times.
Roasted Sweet Potato Soup With Pistachio, Orange, and Mint Salsa
Maximizing the natural sweetness of sweet potatoes takes a bit of patience—here, we cook them at 300°F for a full hour, then bump up the temperature to lightly brown them. The upside is that after that step is completed, this pretty, fire-colored soup is easy to make: Sauté the roasted potatoes with aromatics, carrot, broth, and a hint of orange juice, then blend the mixture until it's smooth. A garnish of pistachios, scallions, orange zest, mint, and cayenne turns a simple dish sophisticated.
Vegan Cream of Mushroom Soup With Crispy Shiitake Chips
If you've ever enjoyed really good gazpacho, you know that bread is one of the best ways to give a vegan soup a rich, mouth-coating texture. In fact, it's actually better than using cream for thickening—dairy fat dulls flavors, which means a vegan soup like this one will allow your base ingredients to shine. Crispy fried shiitake chips add crunch and even more flavor.
Spicy Carrot and Ginger Soup With Harissa
This soup draws on our tried-and-true method for making an awesome creamy vegetable soup: Select main ingredients, primary and secondary aromatics, and a liquid; layer the ingredients slowly to bring out their flavors; and blend it all up with olive oil. In this recipe, the main ingredient is bright, earthy carrots, spiced up with North African harissa paste and ginger. We use raw carrots instead of roasted for the cleanest, freshest flavor.
15-Minute Creamy Tomato Soup
So you want a delicious tomato soup, and you want it in a hurry? Good news: You can whip this one up in only 15 minutes. Olive oil adds body and white bread acts as an emulsifier in a base of canned tomatoes, simmered briefly with onions, garlic, oregano, and red pepper before blending. If you've got a high-powered blender and even less time, try the five-minute version, which requires no stovetop cooking at all.
Fully Loaded Vegan Baked Potato Soup
A cheesy, bacon-topped loaded baked potato is pretty much as far from vegan as it gets. But with our vegan nacho cheese at your disposal—which gets its rich, gooey texture from cashews, almond milk, vegetable shortening, and potatoes—and our vegan mushroom "bacon," you can produce a soup with the same flavors that's completely meat- and dairy-free. Nutty roasted cauliflower amplifies the cheesiness, and we enhance the meaty flavor with a little liquid smoke.
Vegan Curry Butternut Squash Soup With Kale
Packed with squash, kale, and quinoa and spiced with curry powder, this soup is a nourishing one-pot dinner unto itself. A garnish of cilantro brightens up the flavor, and toasted pepitas lend crunch.
Easy Lentil Soup With Lemon Zest, Garlic, and Parsley
In most regards, this is the basic, simple, heartwarming lentil soup you look forward to at the end of a chilly day. The twist is gremolata—an Italian mix of parsley, lemon zest, and garlic, typically served with osso buco—which we add here in two ways. First, we sauté it with a mirepoix base until it's aromatic. After the lentils are cooked, we garnish the soup with more gremolata and a bit of lemon juice for a fresh, tangy finish.
The Ultimate Rich and Creamy Vegan Ramen With Roasted Vegetables and Miso Broth
There's so much good stuff going on in this vegan ramen, adding meat would be completely superfluous. We use an intense broth made with fresh and charred vegetables and fresh and dried mushrooms, and a tare seasoning blend of soy sauce, shiitake caps, and kombu. A mushroom-scallion oil gives the ramen a necessary dose of flavorful fat, and we finish the soup with four different toppings: charred eggplant, roasted sweet potato, and roasted and simmered mushrooms. It's a labor-intensive proposition, sure, but you'll know why we call it the ultimate as soon as you taste it.
The Best Vegetarian Bean Chili
Many vegetarian chilis are basically quick bean stews with some chili flavor, but not nearly enough richness or complexity. This slow-cooked version cuts no corners, getting its powerful flavor from dried and canned chilies, tomatoes, soy sauce, spices, and—the not-so-secret ingredient—Marmite. A shot of booze just before serving helps bring out alcohol-soluble flavors.
Vegan Sweet Potato and Two-Bean Chili With Hominy
Why be forced to choose between a sweet potato chili and a bean one? Adding diced sweet potatoes to a stew of kidney and black beans gives it extra flavor and soft texture. To contrast with those tender ingredients, we incorporate chewy hominy, then add masa to thicken the chili without turning it gluey.