Zero-Calorie* Creamy Vegetable Soup

OK – technically speaking, this soup has 96.5 calories per serving (still a bargain), but since you can burn 100 calories by cooking for 34 minutes, this soup nets you zero calories. That’s my kind of math! (Similar to “subscribe and save 80% off the newsstand price” or “buy 2 pairs of shoes, get the 3rd pair free”; how can you go wrong?)

(Calorie information is from I was excited to learn that you can also burn 100 calories by rearranging furniture for 14 minutes – finally justification for one of my favorite pastimes!)

Besides having “zero” calories, this soup 1) tastes rich and complex, 2) is gluten and dairy-free, and 3) contains four types of vegetables but no one will ever know. (We have some vegetable-phobes in our house.) And – like any pureed soup, it can also be dressed up for Halloween with a sour cream spider web.  This will up the calorie count a little, but will keep the attention away from the exact contents of the soup. (I called it Mystery Soup.)

Creamless Cream of Vegetable Soup

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 10 oz. (1 package) cremini or white mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup chopped shallots or onion (about 4 large shallots or one small onion)
  • ½ cup chopped celery (about 2 ribs)
  • 4 cups (1 box) chicken stock (99% fat free)
  • 1 head of cauliflower, cored and cut into florets
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • (Reduced fat sour cream for optional spider web garnish)
  • Optional garnish: croutons or Gruyère cheese dippers

Set out a large pot or Dutch oven (not a nonstick pot, because you want fond, or caramelized bits, to form on the bottom). Heat olive oil over medium-high heat; add mushrooms and ½ teaspoon kosher salt and sauté until browned – about 5 minutes. (The mushrooms will shrink significantly as the water in them is cooked out.)

Add shallots/onions and celery and sauté another few minutes until softened.

Add chicken stock, cauliflower florets and another ½ teaspoon kosher salt. Cover and steam/simmer until cauliflower is tender (5-7 minutes).

With an immersion blender, blend right in the soup pot until smooth.

(Alternatively, purée in batches in a blender, covering the lid with a dishtowel to prevent hot liquid “explosion”.)  TASTE SOUP. (So important it merited capital letters.) Add a few grinds of black pepper and kosher salt pinch by pinch until it tastes right. (98.7% of the bad soups I’ve had just needed a little more salt.)

Tastes better than it looks!

For spider web, place some sour cream in a plastic bag.  Cut off the tip of the bag; starting from the center, make a swirl on top of the soup. Using a bamboo or metal skewer and starting in the center, drag through the soup and swirl to the edge of the soup bowl. Repeat until you have a spider web.


I tried making poppy seed bat croutons, but they ended up looking more like bugs. I think you’d be better off with these Gruyère cheese dippers instead.

A better choice for croutons, unless you like the “fly in my soup” effect:

Gruyère cheese dippers

12 thoughts on “Zero-Calorie* Creamy Vegetable Soup

  1. You know I miss you guys! Hope to see you soon- going to make this tonight and will let you know -I’m sure it’s going to be terrific!

  2. Mmmmm….je mangerais bien cette soupe maintenant, apres un field trip “pumpkin picking” tres froid!! Hate d’essayer cette nouvelle recette et impatiente de decouvrir la suivante!

  3. Mmmm, and I say that because I’m shoveling it IN – right OUT of the POT !!!!! I realized I’ve never actually “left a reply” after making something !! I double-ished the recipe and used my chicken stock (that you told me how make – merci) which I was a bit worried about (why ? Oh, I didn’t really follow what you said.. it’s been in the freezer since January… I don’t know !). I’m bad at following recipes (I’m more of a read and then wing it), so the carmelizing part of the mushrooms did not happen (too many mushrooms in too steep a pot ? wasn’t paying attention ? onions went in before I realized what was happening) and it was sort of soup from the start. I drained off some of the “juice” at a certain point, before adding the stock, but actually, it tasted so good, I threw it back in later. I was a little worried with all this liquid that it was going to be tasteless, so MORE SALT, of course, but I decided to throw in a little herbes de provence and garlic powder. Anyway, the good news is, this takes very little time to make AND, seemingly, you CANNOT ruin it !!! Totally ready for next “creamy” soup recipe !!!

  4. PS I loved dish towel/hot liquid explosion warning !! I had to repaint my kitchen one year after hosting my first Christmas dinner at my house years ago. I did it twice in the same night. Impressive !

  5. Ok…this is flipping awesome! I veganized it so used vegetable stock instead…seriously delicious! I just polished off a bowl doing the dippty-do with some Trader Joe’s Tuscan Pane…I.AM.SO.FULL. thanks Suzie Q!

  6. Just finished this. Love the smell of the mushrooms cooking. That was my favorite part, next to eating it of course.

    what is the number of servings/serving size?

    Thanks again for a great, FILLING recipe.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s