Spero Foods recently gifted me with a generous supply of their vegan, plant-based, and eco-conscious sunflower seed-based cheese spreads to sample, and I am happy to share both the results of my in-home taste-test of The Cheddar along with my recipe for vegan and plant-based Beer Cheese Soup. You can find my mini-review of Spero’s The Goat and my recipe for a lovely fall butternut squash-based dip or spread made with it here.
Packaged in 6.5 ounce tubs with a fresh, modern look, I have found the ever-so-slightly grainy texture of these products to be appealing. I don’t necessarily need for my spreads to be unnaturally smooth in most dishes. However, though taste is a highly subjective sense, I find that they tend to be over-salted. This was true of The Cheddar, which was also a bit too tangy for me, though my recollection of earthy cheddar from my pre-vegan days includes a pleasant tang.
So, unlikely to eat this spread by itself, I would be more apt to serve it with a sweet chutney or pepper jelly. However, not in need of party food, but in need of a mid-week dinner, I wondered if it would be tasty in a soup sweetened with coconut milk to offset both the salt and the potent tang. It was luscious, delicious, and satisfying, and I hope you enjoy!
Beer Cheese Soup (vegan & plant-based)
Yield: 4 servings
1 tablespoon vegan butter
3 stalks celery, diced
1 small onion, diced
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup vegetable stock
1/4 cup vegan beer or non-alcoholic beer
1-15 ounce can coconut milk, lite or regular (I used lite)
6 ounces Spero Foods The Cheddar spread
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon yellow or stone ground mustard
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1/2 to 1 teaspoon Sriracha
Recommended garnishes: thinly sliced green onion, halved tri-color grape tomatoes, coarsely chopped smoked almonds, shredded vegan cheddar cheese, vegan croutons, etc.
In medium saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Add celery, onion, a pinch of salt and pepper, turmeric, and garlic powder. Sauté, stirring frequently, until very soft, but not brown; adjusting heat as necessary. Stir in flour until well-combined, followed by vegetable stock, beer, and coconut milk. Bring to a simmer, and cook 2 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until smooth and creamy. Stir in The Cheddar spread, apple cider vinegar, mustard, nutritional yeast and Sriracha. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until all ingredients are completely combined and heated through. Serve in bowls, garnished as desired, accompanied by salad and chunks of vegan biscuits or a crusty bread, like maybe pretzel bread nuggets.