When I eat too much junky food and drink too much beer, after a while I start to crave veggies. This was one of those weekends. I decided I wanted a vegetable-based soup for dinner, and toyed with the idea of adding some protein, maybe some diced or shredded chicken, but I just couldn’t get excited about that. Vegetarians, rejoice! This one’s for you. It’s pure vegetable-based goodness with a rich roasty flavor that is sure to please.
The beauty of a dish like this is that you have a lot of latitude to make it suit your own personal tastes, so I’m writing the recipe to reflect that. To make a generous quart of this soup, or your own variation of it, you’ll need:
- 2 1/2 to 3 lb. fresh vegetables
- 6 whole garlic cloves, peeled
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- Kosher salt
- Cracked pepper
- 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
- 1 qt. vegetable stock
I’m being somewhat vague on the “fresh vegetables” because to a certain extent you’re free to choose whatever makes your little heart flutter. The trick is you want veggies that will roast well in the oven and are not super starchy. Here is an approximation of what I used for this batch:
- 8 oz. onion
- 8 oz. zucchini
- 8 oz. yellow squash
- 4 oz. roma tomatoes
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 green bell pepper
- 4 oz. asparagus spears
Whatever you choose, wash your vegetables well, then cut them into fairly large chunks. In a large bowl, toss the veggies and garlic cloves with the olive oil, salt, pepper and thyme to coat them evenly. Spread your veggies on a large sheet pan and roast them in the oven at 450° until they are well browned and showing some char, which should take about 45 minutes more or less.
On a side note, I also made my own vegetable stock for this soup today, although you can buy several good pre-made options. I save up usable veggie trimmings in a freezer bag for just such an occasion. In case you hadn’t picked up on it from my earlier posts, we eat a lot of asparagus around here. That means I had lots of asparagus ends, which are too fibrous to be edible by most mere mortals, but they do lend a wonderful flavor to a vegetable stock, so into the pot they went, along with some onion, carrot, celery and garlic. Sweat the veggies in some oil until tender, and add enough water to cover them. For seasoning add a bay leaf, some cracked peppercorns, and a little fresh parsley and thyme. Simmer for about an hour and then strain and cool — voila, fresh stock ready to use for your soup.
Getting back to our main recipe, when the veggies are roasted to the degree you like, combine them with the stock in a large pot, bring the mixture to a boil then back it down to a simmer for about 30 minutes. Remove your pot from the heat and carefully puree the soup with an immersion blender. Please please please don’t spray scalding hot soup on yourself during this step. You can also use a stand blender like a Vitamix, but again caution is the watchword because hot liquids in a blender have a tendency to cause the lid to blow off with very messy and potentially painful results. If you do it that way, blend it in small batches using a pulse method, never filling more than about a third of the carafe at a time. Also keep in mind as you puree that you don’t want total liquid. The goal is to retain a nice hearty texture but without any noticeable chunks of vegetable.
After the soup is pureed to the desired consistency, you’re ready to rock and roll. We garnished ours with a swirl of olive oil and some blanched asparagus tips. Serve it up with a loaf of crusty bread and you’re in for a delicious, healthy meal. We munched this down with a big happy grin on our faces, and I know you will too. Until next time: Eat well, my friends!