cholent soup

Vegetarian Cholent Soup Recipe. Meat Variation

Cholent Soup is a fantastic move-over-cholent recipe.

Don’t get me wrong, I make cholent all the time. It’s just that, Shabbos rolling in every week Thank Gd, I look for all possible variations on the cholent theme. As it is, I have a mega chapter on My Cholent and all Variations, in my cookbook and on my blog, take a look! But I thought I would add one variation on the Cholent theme, meaning, overnight and in a crockpot, looking more like a soup. More to the point, I wanted to make this “cholent” variation totally vegetarian, allowing me to make meat and poultry dishes distinct from the meat usually found in cholent (that said, no problem making this a meat soup. Read on)

Every year my husband and I host a big bash on Simchat Torah.

This past Shabbos came as a grand finale to a long month of festivities with each part lasting three consecutive days. So I thought I would give our guests a badly needed reprieve from the usual meat and poultry fare: I went with an all vegetarian and fish menu. One of the dishes that got wiped out first was this fantastic cholent soup. I loved that the broth stayed clear and tasted so incredibly rich, and how the vegetables retained their bright color. The inclusion of the Moroccan seasonings, the squash and the chestnuts or dates give the soup some pleasing Sephardi overtones which produce a deeply flavored soup that need no help whatsoever from meat or poultry. Perfect for Passover too!

A few initial considerations informed my final selection:

  • No beans: Too close to cholent for comfort. Not enough of a departure. Brown rice, chickpeas, aduki or mung beans might be OK, as they don’t get everything cloudy. In this case use 2 cups raw and skip the chestnuts listed in the recipe. (Passover: No beans no legumes)
  • Low maintenance. Soup I could just throw in a pot and forget all about. No sauteing or frying or anything. After dicing everything, I considered my labor done, and so will you!
  • Use only vegetables that will stand to the long cooking time: In other words, no zucchini, peas, string beans, cabbage etc.
  • Use ingredients that would yield a clear broth, not release starch that would cloud the soup.
  • Don’t use any tomato product, except maybe 2-3 tablespoons tomato paste to deepen the color (I didn’t use any). Like chocolate, tomatoes tend to dominate a dish and blow all other ingredients out of the water, excuse the pun.

That said, the recipe still remains pretty elastic:

You can adjust the amounts of each vegetable you are using to suit your personal taste.

If you want to make this a meat soup, go ahead and throw in 2-3 pounds beef chunks.

Still I would say, don’t skimp on the mushrooms, or the squash, these two are too delightful to reduce. I am adapting the amounts I used to an 8-9 quart pot:

 Since I had almost fifty guests, and it was served buffet style, the logistics of serving chunky (shabbos: No blender) hot soup had to be carefully thought out. My large (9 quart) crockpot not being large enough for my headcount, I decided to use my extra large stainless steel 15 quart pot, and place it on a low flame just before Shabbos.


  • 1 pound chunk kabocha or butternut squash, or a little more, no peeling necessary, diced small
  • 1 large carrot, diced small
  • 1 large turnip, diced small
  • 1 large parsnip, diced small
  • 1 large yukon gold potato, or other not-too-starchy potato, diced small
  • 2 large leeks, sliced
  • 1 5-ounce pack peeled vacuum-packed roasted chestnuts, crumbled, or a dozen large pitted dates, sliced
  • 4 ribs celery, peeled, sliced thin
  • 1 pound shitaki caps, sliced thin
  • Optional but really delicious: Any stems (repeat: Just the stems, not the leaves) from a bunch of kale or Swiss chard whose leaves you used for another dish, thinly sliced.
  • 1 head garlic, peeled, cloves left whole
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 2 good pinches saffron
  • 1 large sprig rosemary
  • 1 large sprig tarragon
  • 4-5 bay leaves, or 1 teaspoon ground
  • Salt to taste


Place all ingredients in a large crockpot, and cover with water to full capacity. Set on low, and plug just before shabbos. If it is for a weekday, forget about Cholent stand-ins. plug in the morning, and enjoy for dinner. Adjust seasonings and add pepper to taste.

20 replies
  1. Sheila
    Sheila says:

    Shouldn’t you start this an hour before Shabbat since the vegetables should be at least 1/2 (and maybe even 2/3) cooked before Shabbat, from a Halachic point of view.

  2. Robin
    Robin says:

    Hi. There is a typo in this recipe. It says “a bunch of kale of Swiss chard,” but I think you mean “a bunch of kale or Swiss chard.”

  3. T
    T says:

    Hi levana, I made your soup because I am a big fan of your recipes – especially roast chicken and the Moroccan vegetables. But I had some trouble with this one. I suspect that it would taste better cooked first In a pot with the mirepoix made properly, because there was a bit of an oil slick that rose to the top of the crockpot since the oil wasn’t integrated. I wonder if that’s how you first made it – in your stainless steel pot?
    Also the vegetables were quite dark and I’m wondering if it wasn’t because of preparing them like 4pm even though I plugged in in right before shabbos?
    Last, the mushroom flavor was completely lost.
    I have made many soups and many chulents and I felt this one didn’t work out quite right. I’ll try it again maybe first in a regular pot… Thanks!

    • Lévana
      Lévana says:

      Tzirel, I wish you could taste mine. You are welcome anytime. I did exactly as in my instructions. If all the raves I received for it are any indication, this recipe remains a winner.
      The last thing I want to do when making a “cholent-like” recipe is mirepoix or any other step beside, quite simply, all aboard! How much of an oil slick could you possibly have, since the whole recipe (over a gallon of soup) has 1/2 cup oil total, which you would mix thoroughly into the finished soup before serving. I do hope you give this recipe another chance. Please read the recipe again, try and retrace, and run any questions by me again: We’ll get it right for you!

  4. T
    T says:

    Do you think a couple of small Jerusalem artichokes will overpower the flavor?
    I may add some farro (since I recently tasted a mushroom farro risotto that was great) since it doesn’t get too starchy. Not pearled, emmer (will maybe soak half hour)
    Thank you!

    • Lévana
      Lévana says:

      Tzirel No, I wouldn’t put Jerusalem artichokes here. They are wonderful but famously hard to digest, and that would get a lot worse in an overnight dish.
      I didn’t want to add any grain, because I wanted a clear broth. Overnight dishes cannot be compared with risotto, I don’t think you would get the same results. If you do try and it comes out good, please share: Everyone would love to try!

  5. RB
    RB says:

    This looks great! Really interested in making this for a big dinner I am hosting.

    I’m interested in adding barley, what do you think?

    Also I don’t have saffron, tarragon, rosemary or bay leaves. Any suggestions for other spices I can use?

    I know this changes the recipe up a bit but I would love your input because it’s very clear you have good taste and are a great cook. Thanks!

    • Lévana
      Lévana says:

      RB You have a very good recipe in mind, it’s just not the one above. Please look in my search box, where you’ll find plenty of cholent recipes, grain-based, and with the traditional seasonings.

  6. joanne
    joanne says:

    Glad to see another one of your vegetable soups! Quick question – does it darken being left in the stainless steel pot? what temp. did you have it at for Shabbat?

    • Lévana
      Lévana says:

      Joanne NO! This was the best part. I said it in my post: The vegetables kept all their bright color. Low setting, please look again in the post, it’s all there!

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