The greatest delight of the fields and woods minister is the suggestion of an occult relation between man and the vegetable.
I am not alone and unacknowledged. They nod to me and I to them.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson
Recipe source: Adapted from Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa Family Style
Well, it’s official, we’re now two days into winter. And besides cold weather and Christmas just around the bend, what that mostly means for me is a bellyache from the overwhelming amount of cookies, cakes, pies, chocolates, fudge and what-have-you everywhere in my sight. Co-workers make them, friends give them, and it would be rude not to consume them… right? Since you might be facing this dilemma as well, I thought I’d supply you with a little detox.
Soup is always a comfort on a cold winter day, and easy to eat when you have a cold. This recipe is extremely variable and can be adjusted to use whatever vegetables are in season throughout the year. For now, it’s carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes, and butternut squash.
The first time I made this recipe, I followed Ina Garten’s instructions to a tee, and wasn’t thrilled. It was too carrot-ey for me, and just overall bland.
So, I halved the amount of carrots and added an eggplant.
I also added a ton of flavor with my no-so-secret weapons, onion, garlic, and ginger. I think onions and garlic should appear in just about any savory dish, and especially soups, so I’m surprised Ina didn’t include them the first time around. (puzzled face)
Regardless. To make this soup, you will chop the vegetables of your choice, toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roast in a 425-degree oven for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, saute the onions, garlic, and ginger in a large soup pot, then transfer to a food processor and puree. When the vegetables come out of the oven, add them to the food processor and puree as well. How long you puree depends on the texture you like – I like my soup slightly chunky.
If you have a super-cool food processor with a pouring tube like this, slowly pour 3 cups of chicken or vegetable sock while the blade is spinning to keep the processor from jamming. If not, remove the lid and add your stock incrementally between pulses.
Just before serving, pour the mixture back into the pot and heat to warm.
This soup is delicious serve with some kind of bread. When I’m in a hurry, I like lightly toasted rosemary bread. In a major hurry, Breton crackers. But if I have a little more time, homemade croutons are wonderful… provided I can resist eating the oil and salt-soaked bread before toasting it! I like to use sourdough for this, but you can use any loaf you like.
Wishing you a warm and happy winter surrounded by those you love. xox
RECIPE – Roasted Vegetable Soup
2 carrots, peeled
1 parsnip, peeled
1 sweet potato, peeled
1/2 small butternut squash (about 2 pounds), peeled and seeded
3 tablespoons good olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, chopped
1/2 white onion
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Brioche croutons, recipe follows
Good olive oil
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Cut the carrots, parsnip, sweet potato, eggplant, and butternut squash in 1- to 1 1/4-inch cubes. All the vegetables will shrink while baking, so don’t cut them too small.
Place all the cut vegetables in a large bowl or gallon-size freezer bag, drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and toss well to coat. Spread vegetables in a single layer on 2 sheet pans. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until all the vegetables are tender, turning once with a metal spatula.
Meanwhile, saute garlic and ginger in about two tablespoons of olive oil in a large soup pot for about 1 minute. Add in diced onion and saute for about 5 minutes, until onions are lightly browned. Transfer onion mixture to a food processor and puree.
In two batches, coarsely puree the roasted vegetables with the onion mixture, pouring in chicken or vegetable stock to aid the food processor as you go. Pour the pureed vegetables back into the soup pot and season, to taste. Thin with more stock if desired, and reheat. The soup should be thick but not like a vegetable puree, so add more stock and/or water until it’s the consistency you like. Serve with homemade croutons or crusty bread.
RECIPE – Homemade Croutons (skip if gluten-free)
1 12-ounce loaf of bread (sourdough, brioche, challah)
2 tablespoons good olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Slice the bread about 3/4 inch thick. Cut off the crusts and then cut the slices in 3/4 inch dice. You should have 6 to 8 cups of croutons.
Place the croutons on a sheet pan and toss them with the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, tossing once, until they are nicely browned on all sides. Cool to room temperature before using and store in a sealed plastic bag.