If a pot of homemade soup brings to mind a big kettle of many ingredients simmering for hours, think again. There’s an easy formula for preparing vegetable soups that requires only a few ingredients and minimal cooking time, yet yields the same rich comfort that soup is intended to provide.
You need about a pound of fresh vegetables, 3 cups of water, and a blender or a food processor (though a potato masher can be pressed into service). The result will be two generous portions of velvety warmth or four more modest servings.
Adding personality is up to you. The basic soup can be enriched by replacing the water with stock, adding heavy cream or coconut milk, or stirring in some olive oil. Lightly sauteed aromatics can be pureed with the vegetables.
The soup can be dressed with a dollop of Greek yogurt, fresh goat cheese, pesto or chile sauce; you can add a scattering of croutons, capers, chives or other minced herbs, some grated cheese, diced avocado, scallions, toasted almonds or pine nuts, crumbled hard-boiled egg yolk or crumbled bacon just before serving.
A template for a basic soup follows, done with carrots and ginger, plus suggestions for other combinations.
Basic Vegetable Soup: Carrot-Ginger
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger
- 1 pound carrots (about 8), peeled, cut in chunks
- 3 cups water
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- Salt, to taste
- 1 tablespoon minced carrot tops or other herbs (optional)
Heat oil on medium in 3-quart saucepan. Add ginger and saute a few minutes, until softened. Stir in carrots. Add water. Bring to boil, then lower heat to a lively simmer and cook until carrots are very tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat; add 3 to 4 ice cubes to hasten cooling.
Puree in a blender or food processor. Return to saucepan and bring to a simmer. If too thick, add water; if too thin, simmer longer.
Add lemon juice and season with salt. Serve topped with herbs. Serves 2 to 4.
Nutritional information unavailable.
Other creamy combos • Substitutes for carrots in the recipe above:
>> Asparagus: Add a drizzle of olive oil and grated Parmigiano- Reggiano. Consider adding a poached egg to each bowl.
>> Bean: A 14- to 16-ounce can of white or black beans, rinsed, can simmer briefly in water with garlic, chiles or onion. Bits of something porky complement white beans, and crumbled corn chips can dress the black.
>> Broccoli or broccolini: Use stalks and florets. Season with chile flakes, coconut milk and rice vinegar; reserve a few tiny florets for garnish.
>> Cauliflower veloute: You’ll need a whole head, cut up. Add some half-and-half or heavy cream, and top with capers, pistachios or sliced toasted almonds.
>> Creamy tomato: Simmer canned tomatoes with garlic, then go mellow with cream or spicy with chiles or Sriracha.
>> Lentil and sausage: Start with 2 cups of leftover cooked lentils. Add water and sauteed sausage. A splash of red wine would be nice.
>> Potato-leek: This is a classic. You may want to add some cream and float some minced chives or salmon caviar, or both, on the surface.
>> Sunchoke and potato: Use garlic in the base and Greek yogurt on top.
>> Watercress: Use the entire bunch, stems and all, then add cream. Reserve a few little sprigs for garnish. This one is superb cold.