This cozy vegan beer cheese soup is nut-free and tastes like actual beer cheese soup, not just a healthy version of it! Surprisingly though, this vegan soup is dairy-free, easy to make gluten-free, and includes an oil-free option along with some sneaky hidden veggies.
With Oktoberfest on the horizon, this Vegan Beer Cheese Soup is definitely on our menu!
The idea for this vegan beer cheese soup came from our amazing friend Kat back in 2015 when that whole potato-carrot-cheese-sauce trend was first hitting it big on the interwebs.
Her suggestion to adapt that cheese sauce for a beer cheese soup totally inspired me! I mean CHEESE SAUCE I can eat with a SPOON?! Where do I sign up?
And side note, but can we talk about the soft pretzel bowls this vegan beer cheese soup is nestled in?
I am utterly convinced these vegan soft pretzel bowls were MADE to hold the cheesy glory of this vegan beer cheese soup. They’re soul mates, damn. delicious. soul mates. If they got married and invited me to their wedding, I would cry at the sheer beauty of two foods so meant-to-be.
This is the part where – when T reads this – he’ll look at me with a furrowed brow and go, “This is getting weird,” so I’ll just redirect myself now…
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What is beer cheese soup?
“Beer soup” was actually a common breakfast dish in Europe during medieval times. This was usually cooked with egg yolk and served over bread…which seems weird. BUT, I guess we can surmise that technically, Vegan Beer Cheese Soup is fair game for breakfast.
In the US, beer cheese soup is a big thing in Wisconsin (settled by mostly German immigrants who brought the tradition with them). Today, beer cheese soup is commonly made with these 5 key ingredients: Beer, cheddar cheese, butter, flour, and chicken broth! The butter and flour create a roux which gives the traditional soup its creamy base.
How Our Beer Cheese Soup is Different
Our vegan beer cheese soup recipe is different because, well for one thing, it’s vegan which knocks out quite a few of the traditional ingredients (more on that below). For another thing, we could have easily made a more “traditional” style soup (in terms of process) using vegan butter and store-bought vegan cheese. I mean, this IS 2020 after all.
But, we opted to go a different route that leaves you with the same jaw-dropping flavor and creamy texture but includes hidden veggies you’d never know are there.
The taste and texture of this soup will legitimately blow you away. Even if you make the oil-free version, this soup is pure magic and tastes JUST like the traditional version (well, maybe not the medieval one..but I’m not sure I ever want to go there, haha!).
Vegan Beer Cheese Soup Ingredients
This soup requires 12 basic ingredients – mostly pantry staples and sturdy veggies:
- Potatoes, Carrots, Onion (all peeled and diced) – These veggies will be blended to create the color and texture base for our soup.
- Yellow Mustard + German Mustard – These add a cheesy tang!
- Olive Oil – This is for added fats to really LUSH up the texture which is key when making potato-carrot cheese sauces! (See substitution notes below for oil-free.)
- Vegan Chicken-Style Bouillon Powder – We used our homemade vegan bouillon.
- Fresh Garlic – Can’t beat that fresh garlic flavor!
- Nutritional Yeast – This adds a nutty, cheesy undertone.
- Salt + Pepper – To finish off all the flavors!
- Beer – We recommend a German beer. See more about this in T’s Notes on Beer below!
Notes on Potato Carrot Cheese Sauce
You may have tried potato-carrot cheese sauce before and thought, “Yea, it’s good but it’s not CHEESE.”
Here are a few reasons this recipe is different from others we’ve seen on the interwebs and the keys we’ve found to making the most cheese-like sauce out of vegetables because, trust me, I’ve been there.
- Include a fat source! This is the main issue I see with potato carrot cheese sauce recipes. They forget to include some fats! I get it; they’re trying to make the sauce low in fat, but honestly, I’d rather eat the fats and enjoy something that REALLY tastes like cheese! This is why we added olive oil to this vegan beer cheese soup.
- BLEND the sauce on the highest speed for at least 1 full minute. This will ensure the oil is fully emulsified. The texture will go from being a little grainy to thick and shiny.
- Add that fermented flavor! In this recipe, that’s the beer. The mustards also work in this capacity. But if you’re making this for another recipe that doesn’t include beer, know that just a little bit of miso paste or even the liquid from a jar of sauerkraut can really go a long way in making your potato carrot cheese sauce taste like cheese.
T’s Notes on Beer
For this Vegan Beer Cheese Soup, a good German beer is always preferable and always vegan-friendly thanks to the Reinheitsgebot (Bavarian/German Purity Law of 1516). However, many American brewers make great German copies. Just be sure to check the American version on barnivore.com to see if it’s vegan-friendly (more on why some beers aren’t vegan-friendly below).
- Pilsners are a great place to start if you’re not much into beer (or a strong beer taste in your soup). They’re usually lighter to medium bodied and pale yellow or golden in color. To give you an idea, American versions of pilsner-style pale lager include Budweiser and PBR among MANY others.
- Brand Suggestion: The granddaddy of them all and the first pilsner ever made: Pilsner Urquell.
- Golden Lager is simple, traditional, and will have a more distinct flavor than most pilsners without the heavier nature of most of the darker beers. This is definitely among my favorites for a well-balanced beer. I believe these and the Helles beers work best in this vegan beer cheese soup.
- Brand Suggestions: Hacker Pschorr Munich (or Munchner) Gold or Paulaner’s Munchner Lager. If buying American-brewed, stick to smaller breweries for a bigger flavor.
- Bock Beers (Bocks, Doppelbocks, Maibocks, etc.). These are great to use in vegan beer cheese soup. They’re slightly heavier in mouthfeel, often with a dark color and maltiness, but as lagers they stay crisp and clean. Traditional Bock is toasty, slightly bitter and semi-sweet with little astringency. Doppelbocks are basically just double in alcohol content of a standard Bock, hence the name. I’d suggest saving the Doppel for drinking with the soup. Maibocks (also known as Hellesbocks or Helles lagers), as the lightest of the bock family, could be especially good for this.
- Brand Suggestions: Paulaner’s Salvator or Ayinger Dunkel for traditional German.
- Altbier is sort of an ale-lager hybrid. Problem is the bitterness from the hops can range from slight to extreme depending on the brewery. If you know of a good one, it can add a really nice component of flavor to this vegan beer cheese soup without being overwhelming.
- Brand Suggestions: Surprisingly, Goose Island makes a great Altbier!
- Rauchbier (“smoked beer”) has a smoky flavor given by open-flame roasted malts used in the brewing process. Talk about a game-changer in flavor. Think of table salt compared to hickory-smoked salt. Rauchbier can be difficult to come by on a local level, but if you find some and want to experiment with something different, go for it!
- Brand Suggestions: Aecht Schlenkerla
What Beers You Should Avoid for Beer Cheese Soup:
Darker beers WILL change the color of the soup and have a heavier “beer taste”, so if you’re not after that, I’d stick to the pilsner or golden lager.
Avoid heavy stouts and porters for this vegan beer cheese soup as their flavors AND colors would tend to overwhelm instead of complement the dish. And NO fruit beers!
Is all beer vegan?
No, and that’s for a couple of reasons. Obviously, some beers will contain a substance that is not vegan – like honey or dairy products. That one is pretty easy to spot in the name or ingredients.
But there are some sneaky ways different alcohol isn’t vegan which usually have to do with the filtration/fining process (involving the use of fish bladders and weird things like that…I know, gross.)
Like I said, these can be sneaky though, so your best bet is to either email the company directly or check Barnivore.com. Barnivore is a resource with a collection of email responses people have gotten directly from companies themselves, stating whether or not their products are vegan-friendly.
Keep in mind: Brands change their practices over time and Barnivore is not a perfect resource, but it’s the best resource out there right now! And like T said above, you should be safe with a German beer thanks to Reinheitsgebot (Bavarian/German Purity Law of 1516).
For the veggies: It may be possible to substitute cauliflower for the potatoes, but I would stick with the rest of the veggies as-is.
For the mustard: If you only have one kind of mustard, feel free to just double up on the one you have. You can also sub miso paste!
For the oil: To make this soup oil-free, replace the oil with cashews or sunflower seeds. If you’re going to do this, boil the nuts/seeds with the veggies to soften them up a bit before blending. You can also sub a different oil, like sunflower oil or safflower oil. Refined coconut oil would work too, as long as you’re using one that has the word “refined” on the label. Otherwise, the soup will taste like coconut…not good.
For the bouillon: We used our homemade vegan bouillon powder which is MAGIC. But, if you have a favorite store-bought vegan chicken bouillon, feel free to use that. If you’re using bouillon cubes, I’d sub 1 in this recipe. If you’re using bouillon paste, I’d do ¾ Tbsp. I do not recommend skipping this, as it is integral to the flavor!
For the nutritional yeast: This is a deactivated yeast with nutty taste and not the same as bread yeast. Mustard powder could possibly be used to replace the nutritional yeast, but it would not be the same. If you’re subbing mustard powder, I would only use 1-2 Tbsp.
For the fresh garlic: You can sub minced garlic if that’s what you have! I’d sub 1.5 Tbsp minced garlic in this recipe if you go that route.
For the beer: The alcohol does cook out of this recipe, but if you do not want to make it with the beer, I would just sub 1 cup water + 1 Tbsp bouillon powder + 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar (or miso paste). That would account for the liquid and flavor pretty well! You can also make this soup with a non-alcoholic beer if that floats your boat. And to keep it gluten-free: Use your favorite gluten-free beer and skip the pretzel buns!
How to Make Vegan Beer Cheese Soup
Step One: Boil your veggies.
First, you’ll add 6-8 cups of water to a large pot and bring the whole thing to a rolling boil. From there, you’ll add the potatoes, carrots, and onions and cook them until they’re nice and fork-tender.
Step Two: Blend all the ingredients together.
Strain the veggies and add them to your food processor. Then, add the rest of the ingredients (EXCEPT the beer – important) to your food processor. Pulse it a few times to get everything combined.
Next, turn your processor to high and blend for a full minute or two to make sure the oil is fully emulsified. That’s KEY! It will look shiny and LUSH.
If you want a chunkier soup, you don’t have to blend all the veg. (We do because we like a super creamy beer cheese soup.) If you want the chunkier texture, you can blend half the veggies and pour that half back in the pot to finish the last step.
Step Three: Finish the soup!
Then, add the contents of the food processor to the pot once more and pour in the beer.
You’ll bring it to a boil and let it simmer uncovered until it reaches your desired consistency.
How to Serve Vegan Beer Cheese Soup
We HIGHLY recommend serving this vegan beer cheese soup in a soft pretzel bowl because IT’S A SOFT PRETZEL BOWL.
We used our homemade vegan pretzel bun recipe to make these bowls, but you can also check your local grocery store to see what kind of vegan-friendly options they offer. Vegan-friendly pretzels can be another hit-or-miss thing, so just be aware you’ll need to take a peek at the ingredients.
As for toppings, we love to sprinkle this vegan beer cheese soup with paprika (or SMOKED paprika) , some vegan bacon crumbles (like our coconut bacon salt), and fresh chives!
Also – Feel free to load this soup up with chopped broccoli, greens, whatever you dig!
Can you turn this soup into vegan beer cheese dip?
Yes! We offered this on a Super Bowl tray once, and it was a huge hit!
If you want to go this route: I would cut the water amount in half and to help thicken it up and add 1 Tbsp of tapioca starch to the food processor with the rest of the ingredients. Cook on low, uncovered, stirring often and scraping the bottom when you stir, until the mixture is a thick dip texture.
You can also skip the pretzel bowl and just make (or buy) mini pretzels to dip in it. So good!
How to Store Vegan Beer Cheese Soup
Store this vegan beer cheese soup in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 7 days. And keep in mind, the flavor intensifies as it sits (which, for us, is always a good thing).
You can reheat the soup in the microwave or over a low heat on the stove. Either way, make sure you stop to stir the soup often as you reheat.
Can you freeze vegan beer cheese soup?
Yes! This soup freezes beautifully.
Let the soup cool completely. Then, freeze soup leftovers in an air-tight container, leaving about an inch or so of room at the top for expansion. The vegan beer cheese soup should be good for at least 6 weeks stored like this.
To defrost, simply leave the soup on the counter for a few hours or in the fridge overnight until defrosted through. Then, just heat and eat!
More Cozy Vegan Soup Recipes:
My advice to you today is to make this soup. You won’t regret it.
And when you DO make this soup (because I know you can’t live without it), be sure to rate it and leave a comment below. Or tag us in your photos on Instagram, so we can marvel at your glorious cheesy creations. If you’re not already following along we’re @theplantpowercouple with the “the”.
And if you want to be sure you never miss a Plant Power Couple recipe, don’t forget to sign up for our email list!
We cannot wait to hear your soup stories. Happy cooking!
Yield: 4 bowls of soup
This cozy vegan beer cheese soup is nut-free and tastes like actual beer cheese soup, not just a healthy version of it! Surprisingly though, this cozy soup is dairy-free, easy to make gluten-free, and includes an oil-free option along with some sneaky hidden veggies.
20 minPrep Time:
20 minCook Time:
40 minTotal Time:
- 3 cups peeled and diced potatoes
- ½ cup peeled and diced carrots
- ½ cup peeled and diced onions
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
- 1/3 cup olive oil (see notes for oil-free)
- 4 large cloves garlic
- 2 Tbsp yellow mustard
- 2 Tbsp German mustard (or any spicy mustard)
- 1 Tbsp vegan chicken-style bouillon powder
- 1.5 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 cup beer (See notes for brand suggestions.)
- 4 vegan-friendly soft pretzel buns
- BOIL: First, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the diced potatoes, carrots, and onions. Keep at a low boil - covered - for about 10-15 minutes (or until the potatoes are fork tender).
- BLEND: When veggies are finished boiling, strain them and add them to your food processor. Spray out the large pot they were boiling in and set it aside. Then, add the remainder of the soup ingredients (EXCEPT the beer) to your food processor. Pulse 4-5 times to start chopping up the bigger pieces of veg. Then, turn the blender to high and blend for at least 1-2 minutes to fully emulsify the oil. The mixture will be smooth and shiny.
- FINISH: Add the contents of the food processor to the sprayed-out pot and stir in the beer. Cover and bring the mixture to a boil. Then, turn the heat to low, remove the cover, and simmer for 7-10 minutes. Stir the soup frequently, making sure you scrape the bottom of the pot. If the soup becomes too thick for your taste, feel free to add a little more water until it reaches your desired consistency. Taste and adjust seasonings as you see fit.
- SERVE: To make the pretzel bowls - Get out your soft pretzel bun and use a sharp knife to cut a circle into the top, careful not to go all the way through the bun. Scoop the bread out with a spoon to create space for the soup.Pour the beer cheese soup into the soft pretzel bowl, sprinkle with paprika, vegan bacon, and/or chives and enjoy!
MAKE IT OIL-FREE: Cut out the olive oil and add ¼ cup raw cashews or sunflower seeds to the pot of boiling water with the veggies. This will require a high-powered blender like a Vitamix.
MAKE IT GLUTEN-FREE: Use a gluten-free beer and skip the pretzel buns!
NOTES ON BEER: A pilsner is a great place to start if you don’t want much of a beer taste; look for the brand Pilsner Urquell. Golden Lager or Hellesbock work best if you want a good beer taste that’s not overpowering. We suggest Hacker Pschorr Munich (or Munchner) Gold, Paulaner’s Munchner Lager, Paulaner’s Salvator, or Ayinger Dunkel for traditional German.
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