creamy soup in a bowl
The seasons are changing and so are your cravings. As the temperature starts to fall and the leaves shift from green to deep shades of yellow, orange, and red, you start to look forward to all of the heart-warming flavors of fall. Cozy dishes are the first that come to mind and suddenly you’re catching yourself daydreaming of dipping a slice of warm, crusty bread into a hot bowl of creamy soup.
Whether it’s in a pumpkin, tomato, or butternut squash soup, everyone looks for that added element of creaminess on a cold, rainy day — even vegans. Alas, many vegan soup recipes call for cashew cream as an alternative, which is an ingredient that only adds to your prep time, along with the number of dirty dishes in your sink.
Luckily, there are a couple of short-cut ingredients you can use instead — ones that will add even more depth to those signature fall flavors.
tahini in a bowl
As Mehreen Karim shares in an article for Bon Appétit, the solution to her cream-free creamy soup dilemma was hiding in her pantry all along — in the nuts and seeds section. She mentions Japanese noodle soup that gets its luscious texture from Chinese sesame paste, a sesame-seed-based spread that pairs particularly well with savory and umami flavors (via Taste). However, to recreate it herself at home, Mehreen used its milder alternative: tahini, an ingredient she considers the higher-density version of cashew cream. With only a spoonful or two, tahini adds deep nutty flavors and velvety texture without overpowering your soup.
The Mediterranean Dish shows how complimentary tahini is in its vegan butternut squash soup recipe. Mixed into the squash base are signature fall spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and ground turmeric, which the tahini only enhances by adding layers of rich nuttiness and creaminess. Subtly sweet, the tahini won’t alter any of the flavors — that is, as long as you use a quality one. Not all tahinis are created equal, and according to Saveur, the absolute best are made from seeds grown in Ethiopia.
Some recommended brands include Soco and Soom, both made using Ethiopian Humera sesame seeds.
peanut butter jar
However, if you don’t keep such high-quality tahini on hand, there’s another cream-free option you’re sure to have in your kitchen: nut butter. While you can use any type of nut butter to add creaminess to your soup, Bon Appétit suggests that it’s important to consider how it will complement the flavors you’re using so as not to overpower them. For example, The Conscientious Eater adds peanut butter to its pumpkin soup along with warm flavors like cumin but also keeps in mind that store-bought nut butter typically comes pre-salted.
Additionally, The Dutch Foodie substitutes peanut or almond butter in its spicy butternut squash soup recipe, noting it’d also work well with pumpkin or sweet potato. In her hearty peanut butter soup recipe, Tasting Table recipe developer Miriam Hanh says, “The peanut butter makes the broth really creamy and almost silky. It is a perfect match with the sweet potatoes and the kick of the jalapeño and spices.” Her recipe calls for yummy Fall staples like sweet potatoes and warm seasonings like cumin and curry powder.