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Recipe

Creamy Vegetable Soup Recipe: Create Your Own

Making soup is the best kind of kitchen alchemy: You start with a few humble ingredients and wind up with a gem. That’s why I love making these puréed vegetable soups; the components and technique are simple, but the result is a silky, delicious soup that’s refined enough for any elegant first course. The technique is straightforward. First, cook some aromatics (like carrots, onion, celery, garlic, and leeks) to start building the soup’s flavor base. Next, add your favorite vegetable plus some liquid and simmer until tender. Finally, just purée everything in a blender. You won’t believe how easy it is to make something so lovely.

 

Master Creamy Vegetable Soup Recipe

Serves 8 as a starter

Cook the aromatics

Aromatic vegetables become the flavor foundation of your soup. The best blend of aromatics starts with garlic and includes some onions, leeks, or shallots. From there, move on to your other choices, selecting those that are most complementary to your main vegetable.

In a 4- to 5-quart saucepan or Dutch oven, heat 2 Tbs. unsalted butter, extra-virgin olive oil, or vegetable oil (or a combination) over medium-low heat. When hot, add 1-1/4 cups of your chosen aromatics (see options below) and a pinch of kosher salt. Stir well, cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the aromatics are softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in 1 tsp. kosher salt, as well as a spice (see options below), if using.

 

Choose 2 to 5 aromatics for a total of 1-1/4 cups

 

Onions, cut into medium dice

Leeks, thinly sliced and washed

Shallots, finely chopped

Carrots, peeled, halved or quartered lengthwise, and thinly sliced

Celery, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced (no more than 1/4 cup)

Fresh ginger, minced (no more than 1 Tbs.)

Garlic, minced (no more than 2 tsp.)

 

 

Choose 1 spice (optional)

 

Curry powder: 1-1/2 tsp.

Crushed fennel seed: 1 tsp.

Garam masala: 1 tsp.

Ground cumin plus ground coriander: 2 tsp. total

Whole mustard seed: 2 tsp.

Saffron threads: big pinch, lightly crushed and mixed with some of the liquid

Smoked paprika: 1/2 to 1 tsp.

 

Simmer the vegetables

Add your choice of vegetables (see options below), 5 cups homemade vegetable broth OR 2-1/2 cups lower-salt chicken broth, thinned with 2-1/2 cups water, and 3 Tbs. of your chosen accent liquid (see options below). Stir well, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are very tender and the soup is full-flavored, 7 to 20 minutes, depending on the vegetable.

 

Choose 1 of the following vegetables for a total of 1-1/2 lb. prepped weight

 

Asparagus: 2-1/4  lb., bottom of stems trimmed, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

Broccoli: 1-3/4 lb., bottom of stems trimmed, florets coarsely chopped, stems sliced very thinly

Butternut squash: 2 lb., peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch dice

Carrots: 1-3/4 lb., peeled, cut in half or quartered lengthwise if thick, and sliced 1/4 inch thick

Cauliflower: 2 lb., trimmed, cored, and coarsely chopped

Mushrooms (cremini or white button, or a combination): 1-1/2 lb. halved and thinly sliced

Canned whole tomatoes: two 28-oz. cans, drained and coarsely chopped or crushed

 

Choose 1 of the following accent liquids

 

White wine

Dry vermouth

Dry sherry

Apple cider

Orange juice

 

Purée and finish the soup

While cream is nice, I often prefer the results I get with whole yogurt or buttermilk, since their slightly tangy flavor brightens the soup. Some vegetables, especially cauliflower, carrots, and butternut squash, make such silky purées on their own that I sometimes leave the dairy out completely. A bit of citrus juice or vinegar, on the other hand, is absolutely essential: it gives your soup an additional touch of brightness and brings out the vegetable flavor.

Take the pan off the heat and let the soup cool for 5 minutes. Working in batches, purée the soup in a blender. Wipe the pan clean and put the soup back in the pan.

Season the soup to taste with salt and pepper and add 1/4 cup of your choice of dairy (see options below) and acid (see options below); start with 1/2 tsp. of the acid, and add up to 1-1/2 tsp. as needed.

 

Choose 1 dairy ingredient (optional)

 

Heavy cream

Buttermilk

Thick whole yogurt, preferably Greek

 

Choose 1 acid (up to 1-1/2 tsp.)

 

Fresh lemon juice

Fresh lime juice

Red wine vinegar

White wine vinegar

Cider vinegar


Sherry vinegar

Balsamic vinegar


Rice vinegar

 

Garnish and serve

Ladle into 8 soup bowls and sprinkle a garnish (see options below) over each serving, if using.

 

Choose a garnish (optional)

Crumbled cooked bacon or pancetta: 2 tsp. per serving Chopped fresh basil: 1 to 2 tsp. per serving Chopped fresh chives: 1 to 2 tsp. per serving


Chopped fresh cilantro: 1 to 2 tsp. per serving

Chopped fresh mint: 1 to 2 tsp. per serving


Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley: 1 to 2 tsp. per serving

Homemade croutons: 1 to 2 Tbs. per serving

Toasted, finely chopped almonds: 1 tsp. per serving

Toasted, finely chopped peanuts: 1 tsp. per serving

Toasted, finely chopped pecans: 1 tsp. per serving

Toasted, finely chopped walnuts: 1 tsp. per serving

Toasted pine nuts: 1 tsp. per serving

Toasted walnut oil: 1/2 tsp. per serving

Chili oil: 1/2 tsp. per serving

Sesame oil: 1/2 tsp. per serving


Truffle oil: 1/2 tsp. per serving

Storing Soups

Most of these soups are best eaten within a day, as the vegetables tend to separate from the liquids. Carrot, butternut squash, and tomato soups can last up to 2 days in the refrigerator and up to a month in the freezer; if frozen, reheat slowly and whisk if separated.

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