Sunday, November 2, 2014

Creamy, Cheezy, Spinach-Artichoke Soup: 'Healthy Souping' of a Classic Guilty-Pleasure Dip for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

It's hard to resist the allure of a creamy, cheesy warm spinach-artichoke dip. A typical restaurant version can clock in at around 1600 calories and close to 100 grams of fat, and a day's worth of sodium. Even divided among 2 or 3 friends it isn't a pretty picture. Homemade versions often aren't much better in terms of health and nutrition. Still, it's so darn good. I was reading a book this week where spinach-artichoke dip was served at a party and then coming across a couple of recipes for vegan creamed spinach that were giving me cravings, I started to think about 'souping' this classic dip and making a healthy vegan version with no guilt.

I make a lot of dairy-free cheeze sauces using cashews, nutritional yeast and spices but for the soup, I wanted something both low-fat and creamy, so I decided to make a cheeze sauce with the current 'it' vegetable, and decided to use a cauliflower base. This is a two pot soup--one for the cheeze sauce and one for the onion, spinach and artichokes and putting it all together but it goes together easily and pretty quickly. The result is a soup that relieves a craving with a much healthier option, while still feeling decadent.

Creamy, Cheezy, Spinach-Artichoke Soup
An Original Recipe By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Serves 4)

Cheeze Sauce:
2 1/2 cups cauliflower florets--frozen is fine
2 cups low-sodium veggie broth
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp dried mustard
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp celery seed
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp white pepper
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1 Tbsp white miso
2 tsp lemon juice
salt to taste 

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 Tbsp each dried basil and dried oregano or 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
1 pinch red pepper flakes
12 oz baby spinach, chopped coarsely
1 (14 oz) can artichoke hearts, chopped
non-dairy milk (almond or soy) to thin if needed (optional)

Make Cheeze Sauce: 
Place the cauliflower, veggie broth, garlic and spices through white pepper in a medium sauce pan and stir. Bring to a boil, place lid on pan and reduce heat to low. Simmer about 20 minutes or until cauliflower is very tender and "mashable" with a spoon.

Remove from heat and place into blender. Add nutritional yeast, miso and lemon juice and blend until smooth and creamy. (Always be careful with blending hot food/liquid.) Set aside while you finish soup.

While Cauliflower is Cooking, Make Spinach Artichoke Mixture:
In a large sauce pan / soup pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute, stirring occasionally about 6-7 minutes, until onion if soft and translucent. Add garlic and saute another minute or two, then stir in dried herbs and cook another minute, or until fragrant.  

Reduce heat to medium, add spinach and stir. Cover pan and cook about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until spinach is mostly wilted. Add artichoke hearts and cook another minute or two until they are warmed through and spinach is completely wilted. 

Put Together the Soup:
Over low heat, pour the cheeze sauce into pot with spinach-artichoke mixture and stir to thoroughly combine. Taste for seasoning and add additional salt and freshly ground pepper as needed. You can adjust the consistency of the soup to your liking by using an immersion blender to slightly puree it and/or adding non-dairy milk to thin. I like mine thick and chunky so it approximates the texture of the dip--but make it how you like. ;-) Heat through, stirring occasionally. 

Serve with crusty bread for dipping and sprinkled with a little smoked paprika and freshly-ground black pepper. (Serving it in min bread bowls would be fun too.) Enjoy! 

Notes/Results: Rich, creamy, lots of flavor--this is a fun soup with a cheesy-ish vibe. Non-dairy cheeze sauces don't result in that ooey-gooey, strings of cheese texture that dairy cheese does but, they also don't melt with an oil slick of saturated fat that clogs up your arteries--so you can enjoy them all the more. I made my soup thick enough to almost (but not quite) be dip-like, which I prefer as it makes dipping chunks of bread fun. I did puree it slightly, to break up some of the larger chunks and to blend the flavors even more. About 1 1/2 cups of the soup clocks in at less than 130 calories and 4 grams of fat and it is extremely satisfying without being heavy. Good for carnivores as well as meat-free eaters--I would call this dip successfully 'souped' and I would happily make it again.

Let's visit the Souper Sundays kitchen and see who is here this week. 

Judee of Gluten Free A-Z Blog brings a vegan Fall Harvest Soup and says, "This light savory fall harvest soup has a warming broth and a rich satisfying flavor. It is easy to make, (like all of my soups) and even includes some homemade pumpkin puree. I was looking for a good soup for Halloween eve when it's usually damp and chilly. We were 8 adults and 4 kids. Before everyone left to trick or treat, the pot of soup and everyone's soup bowls were licked clean. It was a good soup!"

Tigerfish of Teczcape - An Escape to Food shares this Warm Beets Salad and says,"Beets are in season right now (beets is also a fall/autumn produce in addition to pumpkin squash, carrots) but when I saw this convenience organic beets pack from Costco, I decided to try the product, at the same time, try to incorporate beets as much as I can to our meals. As "convenience" goes, they can be consumed straight from the pack so I do not have to do any peeling. Beets (or beetroots) is an excellent source of folic acid and rich in fiber, manganese and potassium."

Janet of The Taste Space made this savory Indian-Inspired Roasted Cauliflower & Quinoa Salad and says, "While we typically eat the apples as snacks and in our morning oats, this time, I added it to a savoury autumn salad. Roasted cauliflower is combined with quinoa with Indian-inspired flavours such as roasted coconut with a touch of sweetness from the apple and raisins.  I then drizzled my favourite curried maple tahini dressing, which I usually reserved for my chickpea and carrot salad with excellent results. I needed to double the dressing since this salad was so voluminous."

Debbie of The Friday Friends shares her family's Spinach Salad with us this week saying, "We made this for years in our family. My Aunt gave it to us years ago. She wrote down a copy of it in a cookbook she gave me for a wedding gift. It's funny---after all these years, that is the only wedding gift I can remember. ... I love this spinach salad. It has cottage cheese in the dressing. Sound weird? Okay it probably is weird---but it's also very good!"

Thanks to everyone who joined in this week. If you have a soup, salad, or sandwich that you would like to share, just click on the Souper Sundays logo on the sidebar for all of the details.

Have a happy, healthy week! 


  1. I like the sound of your souped up dip!!

  2. great round-up! and I like the idea of souping a dip :)

  3. teczcape.blogspot.comNovember 2, 2014 at 11:12 PM

    look the thick creamy spinach artichoke soup that you made :)

  4. What a fabulous way of eating that dip!

  5. I've not used nutritional yeast, but have seen it in a lot of recipes recently. You are a genius Deb for making a healthy soup out of a decadent and heavy dip!!!!!

  6. The only thing better than spinach and artichoke dip is spinach and artichoke SOUP! Sounds like comfort food to the max.


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