Warm up with hearty vegan potato soup

When the temperature drops to the single digits, there's nothing like hot potato soup to warm you up. (Photo: Vance Lehmkuhl / Staff)

With temperatures plunging from a highs today in the 40s down to seven (!) overnight, and with Tuesday set to stay in the teens, it's a great time for the perfect antidote to bone-chilling winter weather, and that's hot, hearty potato soup.

My version achieves a thick, rich broth by mixing in, near the end, a puree of potatoes and white beans. This basic recipe is very low-oil, but feel free to add one or two tablespoons of olive oil if you want the texture more "buttery." You can also use finely chopped broccoli instead of kale. Serves six.

V for Vegan Potato Soup

4-5 pounds red potatoes
4-5 large carrots
3-4 stalks celery
4 leaves kale, stemmed
2 large red onions
10-12 cloves garlic, peeled
1 quart vegetable broth
1 quart unsweetened soy milk
1 tbsp horseradish
1-1/2 tbsp sage leaves
1 tbsp fresh rosemary (no stems)
2 tsp dried basil
1 can (15 oz.) cannellini or navy beans, rinsed
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tsp salt
1 container (14 oz) cubed tofu
Black pepper to taste
1 tbsp olive oil (optional)

Cut potatoes into dice and boil for 45 minutes. Separate garlic cloves and chop 1/2 of them fine. Chop 1 onion fine. In a large pot with a tiny amount of oil (spray-on is easiest), saute the onion and garlic until translucent, adding a little vegetable broth as needed.

In a food processor, combine carrots, celery and 1/2 onion. Chop coarsely and add to pot. Cook for 15 minutes. Add the rest of vegetable broth and cook on high for another 10 minutes. (Rinse out food processor.)

Lower heat and add mustard, salt and cubed tofu. After five minutes add soy milk and dried basil. Cut remaining garlic cloves into slices and add. Simmer for 25-30 minutes.

Drain potatoes, retaining 3/4 cup of potato water along with 1 cup boiled potatoes. Add the rest of the potatoes to the soup. Add horseradish and olive oil (optional).

In food processor, combine beans, potatoes and water, 1/2 onion, kale, sage and rosemary.
Blend until very fine. Add to soup and cook on medium low for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste and add a little more salt if needed. Just before serving, add the black pepper - fresh-ground if at all possible. Serve with black bread.