No Soup For You, You Lactose Intolerant Nerd

Welcome back veggie & vegan friends. And thank you for joining us new lactose-free friends.

My husband often points at me, laughs, and says in a sing-song, intentionally whiny, pre-adolescent voice “Lac-tose, lac-tose, Jackie is lac-tose!” He likes to poke fun that I’m allergic to dairy, and he thinks he’s mimicking the bullying kids I experienced in the playgrounds of my youth, but that’s a memory I don’t have. You see, it wasn’t until I was about 16 years old that I grew into my lactose allergy.

During my youth I enjoyed many a glass of cow’s milk, many slices of good ol’ cheddar cheese, and I clearly recall cream cheese and ice cream being major staples in our household. Then I unintentionally ate some raw chicken at the chain restaurant where I was working at the time (which will go unnamed), giving me a bitch of a stomach infection and destroying all ability for my system to digest lactose. Awesome, right? All because some dude on the line wanted to cut out of his shift 5 minutes early. Thanks buddy. And see ya later rich, creamy ice cream, heavenly hot chocolate, and pizza…you know the kind with gooey, stringy melted cheese? Ha. Never again.

I’ve tried my share of dairy alternatives, most of which are beyond disgusting. And I’m usually pretty harsh in defending what I do and do not eat (and why), but when someone starts hammering down on gross soy or rice products and how they taste like wet paper towel, I have no choice but to agree with them. Tasteless, soggy, non-substantial paper towel  – sometimes even with little chunky, crunchy bits – is right on the money for the most part. For me, I go between rice milk (I equate this to skim cows milk, kinda thin but not too bad) and almond milk (much thicker, what I remember milk tasting and looking like), and I do try and go back and forth because personally I don’t like eating too much of one thing; I’m a variety kinda gal. But back to the point here, dairy alternatives are…well…just not the same thing.

But one thing that continues to stump me – not to mention frustrate the hell out of me when dining out – is finding a Chef/restaurant/cafe/etc that has dairy-free soup on their menu. I mean come on, why must you put cream (not just milk, but full-fat cream!) in every bloody soup on the menu?! I understand with cream comes richness, texture and a delicious flavor that is hard to attain without it, but lactose allergic folks will never come back to your restaurant if they can’t eat what’s on your menu (and by ‘lactose allergic folks’ here I mean me, but I can assure you there’s more of us out there).

So I said to heck with hoping for dairy-free soup on a restaurant menu, I’ll make mine at home. And while you’re hopefully all here for some decent recipes, and because I believe in sharing the wealth, here are my recipes for 2 of my favorite dairy-free soups. Both of these are ridiculously easy to make and can be made ahead of time to easily add as the appetizer course to that dinner you’ve got coming up. They’re also both vegan.

Potato & Leek Soup
Serves a small army

What You’ll Need:
4 medium sized Russet potatoes
the whites from 4 leeks
12 whole garlic cloves (that’s not a typo…I said 12)
1 medium white onion chopped
olive oil
6 cups of vegetable stock
splash of cooking sherry
salt and pepper

The How To:
In a large cooking pot, sautee onion and whole garlic cloves in olive oil until soft.
Add chopped whites of leeks; sautee for another 4-5 minutes.
Add splash of sherry to de-glaze.
Add vegetable stock, sliced potatoes, salt & pepper to taste and bring to a boil.
Once boiled, reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are soft, 10-15 minutes.
Remove from heat and puree with a hand blender.
Serve, or refrigerate for later; will keep for several days.
Garnish: Aforementioned husband likes to add a drizzle of truffle oil and a basil leaf.

Roasted Red Pepper & Tomato Soup
Serves 4-ish
You’ve got 2 options here: leave it chunky or blend the bejesus out of it with a hand blender. I love my hand blender, and I love the word bejesus.

What You’ll Need:
2 1/4 cups of tomato juice
14 ounces of finely chopped tomatoes, variety of your choice/1 large can of tomatoes
about 1/2 cup of roasted red peppers
2 tbsp virgin or extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves (or more if you’re a garlic lover!)
dash of salt
If you want to add a bit of a kick to the soup, add in a dash of your favorite hot sauce or other spicy ingredient

The How To:
Combine all ingredients into a bowl.
If you want a chunky soup, cover the bowl, and put it in the fridge to basically marinate for at least 2 hours, preferably 3. After marinating, transfer into a pot and heat. That’s it, you’re done.
If you want a blended soup, follow the same steps and blend with your handblender after it’s marinated in the fridge for the same amount of time. Then transfer to a pot and heat. Again, you’re done.
Whether chunky or blended, add whatever you’d like for garnish; I like to add a spoonful of goat cheese on top, a drizzle of olive oil perhaps.

Bonus: blended, this soup doubles as a lovely gazpacho on a warm Summer day.

So after my husband doesn’t get dinner that night and I ask make him apologize for poking fun at me, he does, and we get back to our regular routines: he eating his omniverous meal, and me enjoying my dairy-free soup, while happily sharing the veggies.

That’s all for now.

Next time with Jackie: The Veggies That Get a Bad Rap (and why if you just learn how to cook them creatively, you’ll want to eat them all the time).


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