While we have a whole bevy of vegan soup and stew options to fight the winter doldrums, there's no shortage of delicious recipes here on Serious Eats for those who want to go meatless, but don't mind a little dairy thrown in the mix. Whether it's cream, yogurt, or cheese, a judicious amount of dairy gives each of these nine vegetable-based soups just a bit of added depth and richness.
Thick and Creamy Tomato Soup
The secret to this creamy tomato soup is a carrot purée, which bulks up the tomatoes nicely. If you let the soup simmer away long enough, the carrots will mellow out, leaving a rich sweetness without an overwhelmingly carrot-y taste. With only a splash of cream, the soup retains a fresh, tomato-forward flavor, perfect for pairing with a gooey grilled cheese.
Broccoli Cheese Soup
Broccoli cheese soup is basically just an excuse to eat nacho cheese with a spoon—and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that—but too often, the broccoli tends to be more of an afterthought. This soup is as cheesy as any, but also gets an intense broccoli flavor from both charred florets and simmered stems.
Creamy Roasted Broccoli Soup With Buttermilk and Spiced Pepitas
Here's another option for people who want their broccoli soup to actually taste like broccoli. We roast the brassica before mixing in sweated aromatics, vegetable stock, and buttermilk, which gives the soup a tangy note that also lightens it up. Crunchy pepitas, spiced with turmeric, cumin, coriander, and mustard seed, make a garnish that offers pleasant contrast to the creamy soup.
Classic Butternut Squash Soup
The key to the most flavorful butternut squash soup is roasting the squash to bring out its natural sugars—it'll take about 40 minutes to get well browned. With the main ingredient at its best, all you'll need to support it is a handful of aromatics and spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. For an extra-seasonal touch, top each serving with frizzled sage leaves.
Mexican Butternut Squash Soup With Ancho Chili, Crema, and Pepitas
If you're looking for something a little more unusual than classic butternut squash soup, try this Mexican-inspired variation. The mild squash plays nicely with smoky ancho chilies, bright cilantro, and lime, and a spoonful of crema or sour cream cuts through the heat of the peppers. The recipe here calls for chicken stock, but vegetable stock works just as well; cut the crema and the recipe is vegan.
Lazy-Day Slow-Cooker Mushroom Soup
It's tempting to just throw raw ingredients into a slow cooker and let them do their own thing, but a little extra work can greatly improve a dish's flavor. In this case, that means roasting the mushrooms with onion and garlic before slow-cooking them with sherry, cream, half-and-half, and vegetable stock. The result is a complex soup that still takes only 15 minutes of active time.
Creamy Spiced Parsnip Soup
Parsnips are tasty but mild—their sweet, earthy flavor has trouble carrying a soup alone. Here, we reinforce that flavor with a mountain of powerful aromatics: onion, leek, garlic, celery, coriander seed, jalapeño, and ginger. The recipe is vegan except for a garnish of allspice-scented whipped cream.
Easy 30-Minute Red Lentil Soup With Curry Yogurt
With a comfort food like lentil soup, an unfancy, unadulterated version is often the best. The key is using a food processor to chop up the mirepoix, and red or yellow lentils, which cook faster than brown. As an optional garnish (for those who want a little gussying up), a dollop of Greek yogurt seasoned with curry powder and cilantro is all you need.
Roasted Pumpkin Soup With Brown Butter and Thyme
Pumpkin may be most readily associated with pie in our minds, but this soup is far from a dessert. Instead of cluttering up the squash's flavor with lots of spices, we roast it to concentrate its natural sweetness, then blend it with leeks and onions sautéed in butter. Maple syrup balances out the savoriness, and a drizzle of thyme-infused brown butter gives it a classic cozy, wintry flavor.