Fully Loaded Vegan Cheesy Baked Potato Soup
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5 from 7 votes

Fully Loaded Vegan Cheesy Baked Potato Soup

This 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.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time1 hr
Course: Soup
Cuisine: Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, plant-based, Vegan
Servings: 8
Author: Ashley

Ingredients

Shiitake Bacon*

  • 12 ounces shiitake mushrooms, wiped clean, stemmed, and very thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon to 3/4 fine grain sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Soup

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil*
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced (about 1 1/2 cups )
  • 1 large shallot, finely diced (about 3/4 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 1/3-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
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews or shelled hemp seeds**
  • 1/2 cup chopped roasted, peeled, and seeded red peppers (I use jarred roasted red peppers)
  • 1/2 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)

Additional Toppings

  • Chopped chives or thinly sliced scallions
  • Shelled hemp seeds (optional)

Instructions

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 1/2 to 1 teaspoon sea salt, several cranks of freshly ground black pepper, and a few more shakes of smoked paprika.)

To Assemble

  • 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.

For Leftovers

  • 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, 1/4 cup at a time, until desired texture is reached. Ladle into bowls and top as desired.

Notes

*To make the soup oil-free, simply swap the olive oil for low-sodium vegetable broth (you may need to add up to 1/4 cup to sauté the onions and shallots), and omit the shiitake bacon.
**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.