Who remembers Souplantation? That bastion of all things chopped, tossed, brothed and baked, conveyor belt style. Chopped salads, Caesar salads, pasta salads, make your own salads, slaws, soups of all flavors, chili, breads, muffins, pizzas, desserts and more. All for one low price. All for the unlimited eating until you “couldn’t possibly eat another bite!” to quote Monty Python’s Mr. Creosote.
My family and I spent many a dinner scraping our trays on the metal bars down the salad line, spooning mounds of this and that and whatnot until you couldn’t see the plate beneath. Especially when the restaurant chain first came to town and it was a novelty. Eventually, after umpteen visits, I learned what I liked and what I didn’t like. And what I liked…I loved. And that was the broccoli salad, also known as Joan’s Broccoli salad. Sweet yet salty, crispy yet creamy, crunchy yet chewy. The absolute perfect bite to my palate and many others, I surmise, as it was sold as a kit at Costco and other food retailers.
I was reminded of that salad on a recent shopping excursion to the Beverly Connection when I saw signs for a clothing store finally replacing the old Souplantation space after it closed due to the pandemic. A flood of memories and a taste for Joan’s Broccoli Salad overwhelmed me.
When the temperature hit triple digits a few days later and a no-cook meal was imperative for a family dinner, I decided to give it a go to recreate that favorite salad. Of course plant-based, now that I’m vegan.
The first hurdle was to get the ingredients right. I Googled the salad kit and jotted down the ingredients list. I then Googled recipes for the salad that other cooks had created. I melded the two searches into a recipe that I thought would work best. And that best, to me, was to make a homemade plant-based mayonnaise as the basis for the dressing.
Now, you don’t need to take that extra step to create a delicious version of this salad, as you’ll need an inversion blender to make the mayonnaise. Vegenaise is a plant-based mayo that’s a bit on the sweet side that would be a good substitute for homemade. For those of you intrigued by a homemade vegan mayo, I have included the recipe at the end of the article. Please note that you must use soymilk because of its emulsification properties. In addition, the homemade mayo doesn’t have any stabilizers or thickeners. When I added the extra vinegar and sugar to make the broccoli dressing, the consistency thinned somewhat, similar to buttermilk. It actually worked out perfect for this salad as it poured easily and coated the broccoli without any clumps of dressing. When using store-bought mayo, if it seems a bit thick, add a spoon or two of water to thin it.
For the broccoli, I bought broccoli crowns as you need to cut off as much of the stalk as possible, and less goes to waste. If you’re left with a lot of stalk, slice them up and use them in a veggie stir-fry. You can also buy the florets in packages, but I prefer to buy vegetables from the Larchmont Farmer’s Market for sweetness and freshness. The raisins, too – which are from Aziz farms and sweet and chewy.
The only cooking is the plant-based bacon, which cooks up quickly and doesn’t leave a greasy pan to clean up. You can also use Bac’n bits, which are vegan and kosher, if you don’t want to cook at all.
The result? Heaven! Better than I remembered. Perhaps that’s because my husband said that this was much better than the Souplantation version. Aw. I think I’ll keep him! There were six of us for dinner that night, and everyone took seconds. I took thirds!
Souplantation (Joan’s) Broccoli Salad
8 cups broccoli florets, washed and dried well
½ cup plant based bacon, cooked and crumbled
½ cup roasted and salted cashew halves and pieces
½ cup raisins
¼ cup diced red onion
Salad dressing (recipe follows)
Put the broccoli in a large mixing bowl. Add half of the dressing and stir up. Add all of the mix-in ingredients and the rest of the dressing and stir up well. Refrigerate at least an hour before serving to soften the broccoli and help the flavors meld.
1¼ cups homemade or store-bought vegan mayo
7 tsp apple cider vinegar
¼ cup organic sugar
Whisk the cider vinegar and sugar into the mayo. If using homemade, you’ll need to refrigerate to help it thicken up again. If using store-bought, add a spoon or two of water if it seems too thick to pour. Taste for sweetness and acid. Adjust to your palate.
Homemade Vegan Mayonnaise:
½ cup unsweetened soymilk, room temperature
2 T fresh lemon juice
2 tsp Dijon mustard
¾ tsp salt
1 tsp organic sugar
1 cup neutral oil such as sunflower or grapeseed
Put all ingredients except the oil in a tall narrow jar, such as a mason jar or the jar from the immersion blender. Insert the immersion blender, using the whisk blade, and blend for 5 seconds. Add the oil. Insert the immersion blender to the bottom of the jar and blend for 15 seconds to emulsify. Then move the blade up and down to aerate the mayonnaise. Blend until thickened, about 20 seconds. Refrigerate the mayo at least an hour to thicken. Overnight is better.
About Deborah Brooks
Deborah is currently a documentary film producer. She is also a former certified personal trainer and fitness nutrition coach. The shutdown of business due to Covid-19 and the implication of an animal wet market connection caused her to rethink her high animal protein food lifestyle. She has spent the last year exploring the world of plant based eating for her own health as well as the health of the planet and all of its sentient beings. Her recipes can be found on Instagram. She would love you to follow along on her journey.
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One thought on “Souplantation (aka Joan’s) Broccoli Salad!”
Or you could just go to CostCo and buy it premade and chopped up there. Separate packages are all included for the nuts/raisins, chopped up bacon and the dressing.