Use this dairy-free condensed cheddar soup as a 1:1 substitute for classic Campbell’s cheddar soup! Eat it on its own as a creamy soup, or use it to add a rich cheesy flavor to all your favorite casseroles, soups, stews, and sauces. It’s easy to make in your Vitamix with simple ingredients. You can even freeze this cheddar cheese soup substitue for later! It’s naturally dairy-free, vegan, gluten-free, and absolutely delicious.
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I’ve only had cheddar cheese soup once in my life, when I was working at a restaurant in Florida. I walked in and asked what the soup of the day was (it looked good). “Cheese soup,” the chef said. I was stunned speechless. When I regained my faculties, I said “You mean the whole soup is just melted cheese? No broccoli, no veggies, just cheese? Just cheese?!” He just looked at me.
I’d had cheese sauce, of course, but never had I even heard of cheese soup. I always had to wade through stupid bits of broccoli if I wanted a cheese soup before this revelation. Although now that I’m more refined, I do love our broccoli cheese soup recipe.
It was like eating a creamy, velvety cheese sauce with a spoon. I was in cheddar heaven. With this vegan version, I am again. And you will be too.
Inspired by our vegan cream of chicken soup, I was doing research into expanding our series of vegan and gluten-free condensed soup substitutes. I noticed Campbell’s soups makes a condensed cheddar soup many people love to use in various casserole recipes.
Like our other condensed and “cream of” soups in this series, this recipe is delicious all on its own as a mild cheddar cheesy soup. It can be also used as a 1:1 sub for the Campbell’s version in all your favorite recipes for a slightly different flavor profile the whole family will enjoy!
Why We Love This Healthy Substitute for Cheddar Cheese Soup
- It’s a gluten-free, dairy-free, healthy substitute for Campbell’s cheddar cheese soup!
- Use it as an easy way to add a burst of cheesy flavor to all your favorite casserole recipes or pasta bakes!
- Made with shockingly healthy ingredients and simple methods right in your Vitamix or other heat-safe, high-powered blender.
- If you like thick soups on chilly evenings, add some nice crusty bread (or bread bowls) or a baked potato and you’ve got a complete meal!
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Vegan Condensed Cheddar Cheese Soup Ingredients
What is cheese soup made of? Traditional condensed cheddar soup from Campbell’s is made with, among other things, wheat flour, milk, sour cream, whey, cheddar, semisoft cheese (that’s a lot of dairy!), and annatto extract to give it color. Our vegan version contains none of that and is also naturally gluten free and dairy free.
For our gluten-free and dairy-free version, you’ll need:
- Dry red lentils – These help give us that thick, almost gelatinous “Cream of.. Soup” consistency. It’s very cool how these little beauties can thicken up the soup like that.
- Raw cashews – These add creaminess and fat to our condensed soup. See substitution options below for nut-free options!
- Nutritional yeast – This is a savory deactivated yeast commonly used in plant-based cooking as a seasoning. It adds a nutty/cheesy flavor to our soup. Do not replace it with Brewer’s yeast – they are very, very different! It’s also not the same as the yeast you use to make bread.
- Mellow white miso paste – We suggest the mellow white miso from Miso Master! Miso is a great way to add a fermented cheesy flavor.
- Sea salt
- Vegan shredded cheddar – We used the plant-based cheddar shreds from Shop Rite’s Bowl and Basket brand, but we also like Violife and Daiya.
- Yellow mustard
What kind of cheese is good for this soup?
Remember, high-quality ingredients are the beginning of any great recipe. I prefer to use freshly shredded block cheese. We especially like the vegan block cheeses from Daiya and Violife for this. But you can also use pre-shredded vegan cheddar in this recipe. For this we used the plant-based cheddar shreds from ShopRite’s store brand “Bowl and Basket” which are phenomenal!
If you don’t have or can’t tolerate one of the above ingredients, here are our best substitution tips. Remember though, substituting any of the ingredients may lead to a varied degree of difference in the final product. Let us know in the comments if you try any subs and how they work out for you!
For the cashews: Sunflower seeds or hulled hemp seeds are both good substitutes for cashews. But remember, cashews have a higher fat content than these two options. If you’re using these, I would add up to 1 Tbsp olive oil to the blender.
For the red lentils: I’d try to stick to this ingredient as much as possible because it is KEY for texture. However, you may be able to get away with cutting the amount in half and using canned and drained chickpeas or white beans. We have not tried this though.
Vegan Cheese Options: For the classic flavor, you’ll want a vegan cheddar cheese, but you can use other types of cheese to make variations! Vegan pepper jack soup, anyone?
How to Make Cream of Cheese Soup (Vegan)
It is so easy to make this soup. You’ll need a medium saucepan, rubber spatula, and a heat-safe high-powered blender. We use a Vitamix because a regular blender, especially glass, can crack or break from the heat. For more info on heat-safe blenders, check out our Blender Soup Guide!
Step 1: Simmer
Add all the ingredients to a medium saucepan and stir. Turn the heat to high, cover the pot, and bring the mixture to a rolling gentle boil.
Be careful when boiling the mixture because it will boil up fast and can boil over if you’re not careful. Keep a very close eye on it as soon as you see it begin to bubble!
Then, when it starts to bubble to the top, turn the heat to low, and cook at a low simmer covered for another 10 minutes.
Step 2: Blend
Next, you’ll carefully transfer the mixture into your Vitamix or another high-powered heat-safe blender. Make sure you’re using a blender that allows some steam to escape and is equipped for blending hot liquids.
Pulse a few times to break up the larger pieces. Then, starting at a low speed and slowly increasing to high, blend on high for about 1 full minute until the soup is smooth and creamy.
Step 3: Jar
Immediately pour this mixture into 4 (8-oz) mason jars and cover with the canning lids. The jars will be hot, so wear oven gloves if needed. You don’t need to close the lids tightly at first.
Let them cool on the counter like this completely. When cooled, gently press down on the center of your canning lid (it should seal when you do this if it hasn’t already) , close tightly, and place in the fridge for at least an hour to continue thickening. For best results, let it set overnight!
How do you melt cheese for soup?
In this recipe, we just add the cheese to the blender with other hot ingredients, and that does a great job at liquifying everything.
How to Use This Substitute for Cheese Soup
If you’ve ever wondered, “What can you use as a substitute for cheddar cheese soup?”, this recipe is your answer! This velvety soup bursts with sharp cheddar flavor!
Use this soup as a 1:1 sub for Campbell’s Condensed Cheddar Cheese Soup in all your favorite casserole recipes. You can also rehydrate it to make a quick and easy cheesy sauce!
How to Store Gluten-Free Condensed Cheddar Cheese Soup
Fridge: Once cooled, store the jars of cheese soup in your fridge for up to 5 days. Do not store them in the cabinet like you would canned soup.
Freezer: You can freeze this soup for up to 8 weeks, but we suggest using (12-oz) jars if you’re freezing them, leaving 1 1/2 – 2 inches at the top for the soup to expand without breaking the jar. That’s super important when you’re freezing things in glass like this. Also, let the soup cool completely in the fridge before transferring it to the freezer. Let the soup thaw completely before using and use within 3 days of thawing.
Souper Cubes: You can also freeze this vegan cheddar soup in 1-cup Souper Cubes. Fill 3-4 of them, put the lid on, and let cool on the counter before transferring to the fridge to chill completely. Then, transfer to the freezer and freeze overnight! From there, you can pop them out and either use them in the recipes frozen (with a few adjustments) or let thaw overnight in the fridge before using as directed in any casserole recipe.
More Vegan Cheese Soup Recipe:
I have a feeling this vegan condensed cheddar soup is going to be a big hit in your kitchen. Check out some of the recipes listed in the How to Use section above if you need ideas for how to use it. But, we can’t wait to hear what you do with it too!
Be sure to let us know by leaving a star rating and review in the comment section below. It really helps more people find our recipes, and we just love celebrating your kitchen wins with you!
Now I’m off to go pick some jalapeno peppers from the garden and get to work on that condensed fiesta nacho cheese soup Campbells makes. More on that soon!
Until next time, enjoy!
Step 1: Simmer the ingredients
- Add the water, red lentils, cashews, nutritional yeast, miso paste, and sea salt to a medium saucepan and stir. Turn the heat to high, cover the pot, and bring the mixture to a boil* (see notes).
- When the mixture begins boiling, turn the heat to low and let simmer (covered) for about 10 minutes.
Step 2: Blend the soup
- Carefully transfer the mixture to your Vitamix or another high-powered and heat-safe blender and add the vegan cheese and mustard.
- Blend until smooth and creamy, stopping to scrape the sides as needed.
Step 3: Jar the soup
- To store, immediately pour the mixture into four 8-oz mason jars and cover with the canning lids. Let them cool on the counter completely.
- When cooled, gently press down on the center of your canning lid (it should seal when you do this if it hasn't already) and place in the fridge for future use in all your cozy soups, stews, and casseroles!
*Be careful when boiling the mixture because it will boil up fast and can boil over if you’re not careful. Keep a very close eye on it as soon as you see it begin to bubble! Then, when it starts to bubble to the top, it’s ready.
How to Freeze Vegan Cheddar Soup Substitute
- You can freeze this soup for up to 8 weeks, but we suggest using 12-oz. jars if you’re freezing them, leaving 1 1/2 - 2 inches at the top for the soup to expand without breaking the jar. That’s super important when you’re freezing things in glass like this.
- Let the soup cool completely in the fridge before transferring it to the freezer. Let the soup thaw completely before using and use within 3 days of thawing.
Serving Size:1 jar
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 293Total Fat: 18gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 1003mgCarbohydrates: 18gFiber: 4gSugar: 1gProtein: 17g
Nutrition information is automatically calculated and may not always be accurate.
Watch our Vegan Cream of Cheddar web story!