Well folks, you may have thought that soup season was over, but it's not over. With a low temperature of 28 F tonight, it is clear that although we had our "false spring", spring is not here yet. At least in New York. When you're bummed about that last March snow storm or the fact that you still need to wear a hat when you go outside, make this soup. It will warm you from the inside out.
Loaded baked potatoes are normally filled with animal products. Luckily, we're living in the 21st century, and you would never know that this soup isn't loaded with cream, cheese, and bacon. If you remember from my potato skins recipe, most bacon bits sold at your store are really just seasoned little soy crumbles, and are totally vegan. That combined with the goodness of cashew sour cream, your favorite vegan cheddar cheese, and some chopped up scallions, and we're in business.
For this soup, I've found that cooking the potatoes separately is key to getting a creamy, luxurious texture instead of a gluey, starchy texture. You'll see below how that technique comes into play.
~2.5 lbs russet potatoes (about 4 large potatoes), chopped into large chunks
1/2 large red onion, diced
1 tsp kosher salt
4 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups unsweetened non-dairy milk (I used oat milk)
2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
3 cups vegetable broth, or 3 cups water + 1 tbsp vegetable bouillon (I use Better Than Bouillon)
1/2 cup shredded vegan cheddar cheese (I like Miyoko's), plus more to garnish
1 recipe of cashew sour cream
To garnish: Bac'n bits (usually vegan, I use McCormick), more vegan cheddar, chopped scallions, reserved cashew sour cream
Place the roughly chopped potatoes in a large pot and cover with water. Add a large pinch of salt. Bring the water to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and simmer the potatoes for about 15-20 minutes until very tender. Drain potatoes, place back in the pot, and use a potato masher or fork to mash the potatoes. Set aside.
Heat the vegan butter in a separate large soup pot over medium heat. When it is melted, add in the red onion and the 1 tsp of salt and saute for 4-6 minutes, until translucent and softened. Add the garlic and saute for an additional 30 seconds to 1 minute until fragrant.
Add the all purpose flour and stir constantly for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until the flour is fully hydrated. Then, add in the 1 1/2 cups of non-dairy milk. Use a whisk to briskly stir the mixture until no clumps of flour remain. When the mixture is smooth and thickened, add the smoked paprika and black pepper and stir well.
Add the vegetable broth or water+boullion and whisk well. When it is smooth, add the mashed potatoes from the other pot. At this point, bring the heat up to high, bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for about 5-10 minutes to allow the flavors to combine.
Turn off the heat. Add in most or all of the cashew sour cream (reserve a little to garnish, if you prefer) and the 1/2 cup of shredded vegan cheddar cheese. Stir well to combine. Taste the soup at this point for salt levels, adding salt if it tastes bland.
Serve the soup in bowls, garnished with more vegan cheddar cheese, bac'n bits, chopped scallions, and reserved cashew sour cream. Enjoy the flavors of loaded baked potatoes - in vegan soup form!