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Vegan Creamy Tomato Soup made easy in the Instant Pot. This tomato soup is creamy but it is dairy-free because it uses a delicious garlic cashew cream – not dairy. There is no added sugar in this tomato soup because it gets natural sweetness from the carrots. No added oil either! Just pure whole-food plant-based ingredients.
This tomato soup is comfort food at its finest! Once I started eating vegan I was thrilled to find out that my favorite canned soup didn’t contain any animal products. There is honestly nothing like the familiar tastes we remember, is there?
This tomato soup is made quick and easy with the use of canned food items and the Instant Pot. You’ll have steaming hot flavorful tomato soup on the table in no time at all!
For other delicious plant-based soups try my:
- Veggie Lentil Soup (also Instant Pot)
- Coconut Curry Butternut Squash Soup
- Pumpkin Black Bean Soup
- Easy Vegan Corn Chowder
When I was young, my favorite most comforting meal at the end of a long day of negotiating the monkey bars, math assignments, and all the girl drama that comes with being a child, was tomato soup. With grilled cheese. And grape juice.
So one day – when I was having a particularly rough adulting day – I bought some canned tomato soup and made it, along with my herbed grilled cheese. I was looking for the kind of comfort I remembered as a kid. And it was just like I remembered! But then I looked at the label…
Is Tomato Soup Healthy?
Well, are we talking homemade soup or canned soup? One of the main ingredients in canned tomato soup, after the tomato puree, is sugar – as in high fructose corn sugar. This is NOT what I wanted to be eating. And my canned soup suddenly became the opposite of the comforting meal I was looking for.
This vegan tomato soup recipe is sugar-free and oil-free. I wanted to make it creamy and add a little protein, so I used my garlic cashew cream recipe in this recipe. The garlic cashew cream makes any soup a little extra creamy and adds a nice flavor!
(There is a handy printable recipe card at the end of this post that contains the exact ingredients with measurements and directions.)
For the garlic cashew sauce:
You will divide the cashew cream and use part in the soup itself and part as a garnish.
- raw unsalted cashews
- hot water to soak AND
- room temperature water to blend
- garlic and onion powder
- lemon juice
- nutritional yeast
For the tomato soup:
- canned whole tomatoes
- canned tomato sauce
- tomato paste
- vegetable broth
- carrots (can use canned carrots)
- garlic powder and black pepper
- celery seed
- low sodium soy sauce
- fresh basil (can use dried basil leaves)
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Tips, suggestions, and questions:
Please read through the tips, suggestions, and questions sections so that you too can make an extra yummy vegan tomato soup like mine!
Do I have to use a pressure cooker for this soup? Can I use a slow cooker instead?
This recipe was developed for the Instant Pot. If you want to use a slow cooker, I suggest following the directions for ingredients and setting the slow cooker on low for six hours. Then please let me know how it turned out!
Preparing the garlic cashew sauce:
This is the same recipe I use for a delicious creamy dipping sauce and dressing.
- Raw unsalted cashews are best to use for this recipe. They will provide the creamiest sauce. If you must use regular roasted salted cashews, rinse them well and then rinse again to remove all of the salt. Then you will need to increase your soaking time to a few hours, change out the hot water every hour, replacing with more hot water.
- After soaking the cashews, discard the soaking water.
- Add the soaked and drained cashews to a high-speed blender.
- If you don’t have a high-speed blender, just be aware that you will probably have to blend for a longer amount of time than the recipe instructions state. (Blend till creamy.)
- Add in the lemon juice (bottled is fine), garlic powder, onion powder, nutritional yeast, and salt.
- Blend on high for 2-3 minutes or until creamy and smooth.
- Reserve 1/2 cup for garnish. You will be adding the remainder (about 1 1/4 cups to the tomato soup mixture in the Instant Pot before cooking.)
What is nutritional yeast?
Nutritional yeast is an awesome bunch of cheesy, savory, flakes or powder. It is not the same as brewer’s or baker’s yeast. Nutritional yeast adds in the same depth of tangy flavor that cheese adds.
Directions for the soup/pressure cooker
It’s super easy! Once you have the garlic cashew sauce prepared and divided, simply open a few cans and dump. Add the seasonings and cut a few vegetables and you’re are ready to go.
The carrots and basil:
The only vegetable you need to actually cut and prepare for this tomato soup recipe is the carrots. I’m even lazy and use baby carrots so that I don’t have to peel them.
Cut one and a half cups of carrots and add to the Instant Pot along with the other ingredients.
We use carrots to naturally sweeten this soup so that we don’t have to add sugar. (Remember that high fructose corn syrup in the canned tomato soup?)
Can I use canned carrots in this recipe?
If that is what you have, then that will work. Drain the can and measure out the same amount of carrots as found in the recipe. DO NOT add to the instant and cook the canned carrots. They will become too mushy. Rather, wait until the tomato soup has finished cooking. Add the drained canned carrots and blend with the soup.
Using fresh basil
Use fresh basil for this recipe. You don’t have to chop the basil because you will be blending the soup after it is cooked. The basil will just blend in. If you must use dried basil, use about 1 teaspoon to sub in for the 10 fresh leaves.
I like to use the “living” basil you can buy in the produce department. It just makes it extra fresh. You will use ten big leaves in the soup. You will also garnish the soup at the end with sliced basil, so make sure to reserve some nice unblemished leaves for that.
How to cook tomato soup in your pressure cooker
Please make sure you understand your manufacturer’s directions and know how to use your pressure cooker, no matter the brand. There have been numerous changes even with the Instant Pot over the last few years. I barely recognize the settings on the new Instant Pots.
Make sure to add in the cashew cream (except the reserved 1/2 cup) along with the vegetable broth. Close the lid and close the vent as per the manufacturer’s directions. Manually set on high pressure for 12 minutes.
After the pressure cooker comes to pressure and then counts down the 12 minutes, allow for a natural release for 10 minutes. With a long-handled spoon or spatula, carefully release the remaining pressure by opening the vent. Open the lid after all of the pressure has been released.
You will notice that the cashew cream is a little clumpy in your cooked soup. No worries as it will all blend in when you blend the soup.
Blending the cooked soup:
The easiest way to blend this soup is to use an immersion blender and blend the cooked soup right in the Instant Pot. It will take only a few minutes. Just blend directly in this pot until it’s nice and smooth.
If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can blend your soup two cups at a time in your standard blender. This will be a little more effort but will still work. Return the soup to the pot after it is blended and smooth.
The taste test for acid and the truth about why most tomato soup uses sugar
Okay, remember I told you that canned tomato soup contains sugar? Well, they don’t put it in to make it actually sweet tasting. Sugar is used in tomato recipes, such s soup, to help combat the acidy taste of the tomatoes. The sweet carrots help, but this is often not enough. We use baking soda to neutralize the acid.
First, taste the soup after it has been blended. Is it unpleasantly strong tasting? Does it leave a harsh feeling on your tongue? The soup needs a little acid taming then. I can’t explain it, perhaps it has to do with the sugar content of particular carrots used on a given day. Or perhaps the brand of tomatoes used, but sometimes the soup is fine and needs no help. And sometimes it tastes a little acidic and needs intervention.
Add in 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda. It will foam up a bit. Stir it in and cook on saute for a few minutes until the foaming calms down. Then taste your soup again. It should be much better! Add in some more salt and pepper if desired.
How to garnish and serve your vegan tomato soup
Drizzle on some of the garlic cashew sauce and serve with a side salad. To keep this meal oil-free, try my oil-free balsamic dressing.
Serve with crunchy croutons. The croutons you buy the store definitely have oil. If you are trying to stay oil-free, try this recipe from A Plantiful Path for oil-free croutons. The crouton recipe is part of her Vegan Cesar Salad recipe which also looks super yummy!
Do you know what else tastes super delicious with this recipe? My Vegan Parmesan Cheese with Cashews!
Or a grilled cheese sandwich! Because yes, that is comfort food defined! But sorry I can’t help you with an oil-free grilled cheese sandwich – vegan or not. As far as I know, it doesn’t exist…
Don’t want to use cashews in this recipe?
No problem, just make the garlic sauce with 2 cups of your favorite plant milk instead. Will it be as thick and creamy? Well, no – but you will still get the flavor and the milky white part of the “creamy” tomato soup.
And now for the recipe!
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Vegan Creamy Tomato Soup (Instant Pot)
- Pressure Cooker
- high-speed blender
- hand-held immersion blender
Creamy Cashew Garlic Sauce
- 1 cup cashews raw and unsalted
- hot water to soak discard after soaking
- 1 cup water for blending
- 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 Tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1./2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
Tomato Soup for the Instant Pot
- 56 ounces whole tomatoes peeled 2 - 28 ounces cans
- 29 ounces tomato sauce 1- 29 ounce can
- 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- 1 ½ cups carrots sliced - thick is fine
- 1½ Tablespoons soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
- 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 10 basil leaves
- All but the reserved cashew cream about 1 1/4 cup will be remaining
After Cooking and Blending
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda only add after tasting. See instructions and notes.
- 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon salt taste first
- sliced basil leaves for garnish
- cashew parm see notes for link to recipe
- extra cashew cream for garnish
Creamy Cashew Garlic Sauce
- Soak the cashews in very hot water for 30 minutes. Drain.
- Add soaked and drained cashews, along with 1 cup water, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, salt, garlic and onion powders to a high-speed blender.
- Blend/process till smooth and creamy - about 2 minutes
- Pour out 1/2 cup cashew cream and reserve for garnishing the soup when finished.
Tomato Soup in the Instant Pot
- Add to the inner pot of your pressure cooker, the 2 cans of undrained whole tomatoes - juices and all, the tomato sauce, vegetable broth, sliced carrots, soy sauce, tomato paste, garlic powder, celery seed, pepper, basil leaves, and all BUT the reserved (1/2 cup) cashew cream. (It will be about 1 1/4 cup cashew cream that you add to the IP.)
- In the manual mode, set for 12 minutes high pressure. (Read your IP directions and understand how to use your pot. The lid should be properly sealed and the vent should be closed.)
- After coming to pressure, your pressure cooker will count down for 12 minutes. After it is finished, allow for a 10 minute natural release.
- With a long-handled spatula or some similar item, turn the release valve and finish with a quick release.
- Open pressure cooker as per manufacturer's directions.
- With a hand-held immersion blender, blend the soup for about 3-5 minutes until it is creamy and smooth.
After Cooking and Blending
- Taste the soup and determine if the flavor is too acidy. It will be extra strong and may be sharp to the tongue. Add in 1/2 teaspoon baking powder. Allow to foam and stir in. Saute for about 3 minutes till the bubbles are gone. This should take away the strong acid taste.
- Drizzle on about 1 Tablespoon of creamy garlic sauce to the top of each serving for garnish and flavor.
- Serve with vegan cashew parm (see notes), fresh basil, or croutons.
- Recipe for the best ever Cashew Parm
- If you don't have an immersion blender, you can blend the soup in your blender 2 cups at a time. Wait until has cooled down slightly so that you can handle it.
- Why the baking soda? Foods like tomato soup and pasta sauce tend to get a little acidy. Normally we would just add in a little sugar to combat the acid. This is a no-sugar recipe however so we won't be doing that. Baking soda will also neutralize the acidity. After the soup has finished cooking and is smooth and blended, taste and determine if it is too acidy for you. It will be extra strong tasting and feel sharp in your mouth. Add in 1/2 teaspoon baking soda. It will foam a little. Stir and cook on saute for about 2-3 minutes until foam goes down. This should help.
- If you don't want to use cashews you can use another nut/seed of choice. I can't guaruntee the outcome. Or you could use 2 cups of your favorite plant milk instead. It won't be as right and creamy but will still taste good.