Basic Vegetable Soup
A thick vegetable soup is so easy and versatile, so warm and comforting, so clean and healthy, that I’m astonished people ever use tinned soups at all. This recipe takes about 20 minutes to set up followed by maybe 40 minutes at the simmer, and then five minutes to put it through the food processor – so an hour or so, start to finish. And there are so many variations you can try: hazelnut-mushroom, potato-leek, carrot-cardamom, mushroom-curry, coconut-ginger, turnips and parsnips, and/or my personal favorite: avocado with a dash of mace.
1 cup (1 large or 2 medium) yellow onions, finely chopped
1 cup (1 large or 2 medium) carrots, diced
1 cup (2-3 stalks) celery, sliced or diced
1 large potato, skin on, cut into cubes
1 Tbsp crushed garlic – 2-3 cloves depending on size
6 cups vegetarian broth – I like Better than Bouillon made up with hot water
Sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, fresh herbs to taste
Light olive oil or vegetable oil for the initial cooking
1. Heat 1 Tbsp of oil in a covered heavy cast iron pan such as Le Creuset. Add the onions and cook over medium heat until transparent, stirring from time to time.
2. Add the carrots, celery, and potato, and continue to sauté the mixture over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for two minutes.
3. Turn down the heat and add the broth. Cover the pot and simmer for 30-40 minutes over low heat. Turn off the heat and let the soup cool for half an hour or so.
4. Run the soup through a food processor until smooth. If it’s thicker than you’d like add more broth and process again. If you prefer a creamier flavor, add plant milk instead of broth.
5. Return to the pot; taste and correct the seasonings. Five minutes before you are ready to serve, gently bring the soup to just below the simmer, stirring occasionally. Serve sprinkled with fresh herbs.
Hazelnut-Mushroom Soup: see full recipe here.
Potato-Leek Soup: Omit the carrot(s), add the white part of two leeks, thinly sliced, add plant milk to thin the soup after putting it through the food processor. Garnish with fresh dill.
Carrot Cardamom: Double the carrots, omit the potato, add 1 tsp coriander, 1 tsp cinnamon, and 1 Tbsp cardamom while sautéing the onions, otherwise continue as above.
Mushroom Curry Soup: Add 1 tsp coriander, 1 tsp turmeric, and 2 Tbsp garam masala while you sauté the onions, otherwise continue as above, adding 8 oz sautéed mushrooms at the end.
Turnips and Parsnips: Add one medium turnip and one medium parsnip to the vegetables; otherwise, continue as above, thinning with broth if required at the end.
Coconut Ginger: Add 1 tsp coriander, 1 Tbsp ground ginger, and 2 Tbsp grated fresh ginger while sautéing the onions, 2 oz unsweetened coconut while simmering, and thin with coconut milk or coconut cream at the end, to taste. A spicier, lighter recipe can be found HERE.
Jerusalem Artichoke Soup: Also called ‘sunchokes’, these root vegetables make a wonderfully woody-yet-mildly-sweet addition to your basic vegetable soup. If you can find a pound of these beauties, scrub them fiercely, cut into chunks, and add when you sauté the other vegetables. Follow the recipe as outlined above, adding fresh tarragon at the end.
Avocado Soup: Make soup base as described above; when using the food processor, add the flesh of two small or 1½ medium ripe avocados and ½ tsp mace. Process until perfectly smooth; if required, thin with plant milk or coconut milk. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves.
And here is your Basic Soup recipe in .pdf form.