This fully loaded vegan cheesy baked potato soup is everything. Smooth, hearty, savory, satisfying, cheesy, and bacon-y. A base of blended potatoes and cauliflower yields an ultra-creamy texture while smoked paprika adds smokiness and depth of flavor. The finishing touch in this fully-loaded soup? A mound of crisp shiitake bacon and chives.
This post is sponsored by Silk. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.
I recently finished reading the book Do Less, Get More by Sháá Wasmund. I purchased a copy in the Amsterdam airport during a layover on our way back from South Africa last month. At first glance, I thought the book was about how to work fewer hours and reap greater material or financial gains (it's not), and I passed over it and set my sights on The Magical Art of Not Giving a F*ck. Most of us, myself included, could probably benefit from giving a few less f*cks, but something kept calling me back to that first book. My hand drifted back to the original stack of books, and I flipped the top one over and read the words printed on the back cover...
Do you put yourself under too much pressure to succeed? Are you struggling to find time for the things and people you love? It doesn't have to be this way. Anything is possible when you stop trying to do everything at the same time.
Umm, yes, yes, and sign me up.
I grabbed the book and tucked into it on the flight home, eagerly underlining and annotating. As silly as it might sound, it felt as if the universe guided me to this book at just the right time.
Since I'm on leave from work this year, I figured there would be extra time to focus on new ideas/projects while effortlessly managing to dive deeper into the work I love (e.g., creating and sharing new recipes, connecting with like-minded people, beginning work on a new project, etc.). Not the case. Instead of diving deeper into the work I love, I rather naïvely decided to do everything and wear all sorts of different hats. Many weeks, I've felt like a Jack of all trades, master of none.
For example, not too long ago, I took it upon myself to attempt (key word: attempt) to re-code a portion of my site because I was having issues with images showing up slightly blurry in posts. I'm not a developer, and the closest I get to "coding" is right-clicking to "inspect element", searching for that bit of code in my css, and making small adjustments (e.g., 12 pt font increased to 14 pt font *pats back*). But whatever, I can teach myself to code while managing everything else, right? Wrong. So wrong.
Thank goodness Dan arrived home five hours later (yes, five hours!), because I might have accidentally blown up the internet if my self-instructed Coding 101 course carried on much longer. I certainly did a number on my site (if you notice any posts with images running clear off the page, then you've discovered one of my coding masterpieces). And alright, there may have been a few frustrated tears too. Dan looked at me, looked at my computer, looked back at me and said, "Whatcha doing?" Teaching myself to code. "Why?" Because. "How about hiring someone to help you with these things?" Don't be silly, I can figure it out. "But in the time it will take you to figure it out, you could be focusing on the work you love and excel at." Well, when you put it that way.
I've always been an independent worker, and I love learning new things. The flip side, of course, is that I've become quite terrible at knowing when to ask for help. Instead, I've handed over precious hours, days, and weeks muscling through tasks that are not my forté. In fact, I've spent so much time trying to teach myself how to do everything that there have been days, weeks even, when I've felt overwhelmed by even the smallest of tasks. The reality is that time is our only non-renewable resource, and life is for living not for being "busy".
Just because we can teach ourselves to do everything doesn't mean that we should, and it certainly isn't the best or the most efficient way. Forget our careers, our entire lives have more meaning when we're able to relinquish "busy" in exchange for a more balanced, purposeful approach to the way we spend the hours in our days. Time is precious, and I've learned that it's important to say "no" (unless it's a "HELL YEAH!"), and there's strength and opportunity in asking for help. We're able to offer more to ourselves, to the people we love, and to the world when we're not trying to do it all. In fact, I'm in the process of hiring a part-time assistant so that I can dive deeper (as opposed to wider) into the work I adore—be it for the blog, book, life, or a new endeavor I'm working on.
Let's be balanced instead of busy, in-the-flow instead of on-the-go, and present instead of scattered. Before we chat soup, I'll leave you with this quote...
Doing less of what you're not so great at and concentrating instead on what you are good at sets up a virtuous cycle of productivity, with the bonus of extra happiness thrown in. I'm not suggesting you ignore your weaknesses, but stop letting them take up all your time while draining your confidence. You don't have to do everything yourself. —Sháá Wasmund Do Less, Get More (p. 97)
I should have saved more room to gush over this recipe! This Fully Loaded Vegan Cheesy Baked Potato Soup is everything. Smooth, hearty, savory, satisfying, cheesy, and bacon-y (making up words = still a task on my to-do list). And so much more.
It's made with a similar technique as one of my all-time favorite soup recipes: this creamy broccoli cheese soup.
You'll start by making a big batch of shiitake "bacon". Yes, mushroom bacon. Don't knock it 'til you've tried it. It's been known to impress meat lovers. Seriously. Thinly sliced shiitakes are tossed in olive oil, sea salt, and black pepper and baked until they're sizzling, crisp, and golden-brown.
See how crispy?
While the shiitakes are baking (or shall we say "baconing"), you'll get to work on the soup. A base of sautéed onions and shallots is sprinkled with smoked paprika, sea salt, and black pepper. Then, in goes the vegetable broth, potatoes (alright, technically they're boiled, not baked), and two cups of cauliflower florets. You'll bring everything to a boil and then reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes.
While your soup base is simmering, you'll prepare a "cheddar" sauce. To a blender, you'll add 1 cup Silk Organic Original Unsweetened Soymilk, raw cashews, roasted red peppers, nutritional yeast, arrowroot powder (to thicken), apple cider vinegar, and sea salt. Then, blend until you have a smooth sauce.
Once the soup has finished simmering and the potatoes and cauliflower are tender, you'll use an immersion blender (or transfer the soup to a blender in batches) to blend until smooth. Once the soup is smooth, you'll stir in the "cheddar" sauce and continue to simmer for 3–5 minutes, or until the arrowroot begins to thicken the soup. Then, add a splash of fresh lemon juice and low-sodium tamari. These two ingredients are incredibly important, because they simultaneously balance, deepen, brighten, and intensify the flavors of the soup.
Once the soup is ready, ladle it into bowls and top with a generous mound of shiitake bacon and a sprinkle of chives or scallions (or both)! This soup is a dream, and it's everything a cheesy potato soup should be and so, so much more. It's luxuriously creamy, buttery, cheesy, soothing, and warming (especially on a chilly fall day). Plus, it's packed with plant-pure, feel-good ingredients and reheats like a dream. I recommend making a big batch on Sunday and reheating it for lunch, dinner, etc. throughout the week (see the recipe for tips on reheating). Happy slurping! ♥
Fully Loaded Vegan Cheesy Baked Potato Soup
- 12 ounces shiitake mushrooms, wiped clean, stemmed, and very thinly sliced
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ teaspoon to ¾ fine grain sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil*
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced (about 1 ½ cups )
- 1 large shallot, finely diced (about ¾ cup )
- 2 teaspoons sea salt, divided, plus more to taste
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 pounds yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into ⅓-inch cubes, 32 ounces (about 4 medium potatoes)
- 2 cups small cauliflower florets
- 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
- 1 cup Silk Unsweetened Original Soymilk or Cashewmilk, plus more if needed
- ½ cup raw cashews or shelled hemp seeds**
- ½ cup chopped roasted, peeled, and seeded red peppers (I use jarred roasted red peppers)
- ½ cup nutritional yeast flakes
- 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoons to 2 fresh lemon juice, to taste (pulls all the flavors together and makes them pop)
- 1 tablespoon reduced-sodium tamari (adds depth of flavor)
- Chopped chives or thinly sliced scallions
- Shelled hemp seeds (optional)
For the Shiitake Bacon
- Start*** by making the shiitake bacon. Preheat the oven to 375F, and line a large baking tray with parchment paper.
- Spread the shiitakes out over the pan. Drizzle with the olive oil, sprinkle with the sea salt and black pepper, and toss to evenly coat. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown and crisp, using tongs to flip the mushrooms every 10 minutes.
- Remove from oven and let cool. They’ll continue to crisp as they cool.
For the Soup
- Once the shiitake bacon is in the oven, get started on the soup. In a large dutch oven or stock pot, heat the olive oil over medium-low. Add the onion, shallot, 1 teaspoon of the sea salt, smoked paprika, and black pepper, and cook for 6 minutes, or until the onion is soft and translucent, stirring occasionally.
- Next, add the diced potatoes, cauliflower florets, and vegetable broth. Stir to combine and increase the heat to medium-high. Bring to a rapid simmer for 5 minutes. Then, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the potato and cauliflower are fork-tender, stirring occasionally to ensure they remain submerged.
- Meanwhile, prepare the "cheddar" sauce. Add the soy milk, cashews, roasted red peppers, nutritional yeast, arrowroot powder, apple cider vinegar, and the remaining 1 teaspoon sea salt to a high-speed blender. Blend on high for 2 minutes, or until completely smooth. Set aside.
- Once the potatoes and cauliflower florets are fork-tender, turn off the heat and use an immersion blender (i.e., hand blender) to blend the soup in the pot until smooth (alternatively, transfer the soup to a high-speed blender in batches, blend until smooth, and return to the pot).
- Next, add the "cheddar" sauce to the soup and stir well to incorporate. Turn the heat on medium and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the soup begins to thicken, stirring constantly. Be careful not to overheat or the arrowroot will lose its thickening power.
- Once the soup has thickened, turn off the heat and stir in the fresh lemon juice and tamari. Taste and season with more sea salt, black pepper, and smoked paprika, if desired. (I usually add another ½ to 1 teaspoon sea salt, several cranks of freshly ground black pepper, and a few more shakes of smoked paprika.)
- Ladle the soup into bowls and top each with a small handful of shiitake bacon and a sprinkle of the chives or scallions. Garnish with the hemp seeds, if desired.
- Cover the stockpot and refrigerate for up to 4 days (or transfer to a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 1 month). Reheat the soup in the stockpot over medium-low heat until warmed throughout. If the soup is too thick, whisk in more soy milk or cashew milk, ¼ cup at a time, until desired texture is reached. Ladle into bowls and top as desired.
**If you're not using a high-speed blender, soak the cashews in water for at least 2 hours before blending (or boil for 10 minutes).
***If you're preparing the soup ahead of time (as opposed to enjoying right after making it), hold off on making the shiitake bacon until 45 minutes before serving.