A simple creamy vegetable soup will not suffice by itself for dinner but that is okay. This soup is so easy to make and so satisfying you’ll find yourself making it often and eating it at every other time of the day, even breakfast perhaps. There are days when I’ve handed a warm mug to my non-breakfast child who will down the soup laced with cream before we head off to school.
The key to making this soup is finding your preferred ratio. (Wait! I promise this is a fun ratio to understand.) Once you’ve mastered the ratio to suit your own preferences, you will find yourself making this type of vegetable soup often with whatever is fresh at the market each week.
The soup starts with some type of onion, leek or shallot sautéed in olive oil or butter then a slow sauté of your cubed vegetables. I prefer about 4 cups of vegetables. This week’s market fresh combination features carrots, potatoes and some cubed celery root (also known as celeriac). Once the cubed vegetables are added to the onion, I cover the pan and sweat over medium low heat until they exude their juices.
After about 10 minutes, tomato paste is added to help emulsify and thicken the soup just a bit. The fun part (and, to me, most important) is to stir and let the tomato paste begin to stick to the pan. When almost all of the paste is either on the pan or covering vegetables, it’s time to add the broth, just enough so there is about a ½ inch above the vegetables. (Here is where the ratio comes into play, for thicker soups, add less water to barely cover the vegetables, for thinner broths, add more water.)
Scraping the pan as you stir and bring to a boil, you will find that the sticky mess will gladly release and now infuse your soup with a much deeper flavor than if you added the paste raw.
After adding salt, pepper and nutmeg for winter (or a different herb or spice, if that is your preference), let the soup simmer barely bubbling for about 10 minutes until all of the vegetables are very soft. Puree with an immersion blender and add cream or coconut milk, if desired.
Since this is a winter soup, I like the addition of some type of cream, especially when paired with nutmeg. It is a warming spice and redolent of the autumn we left behind.
Today, we find ourselves fully immersed in the smack of winter and waiting for the first snowfall. A mug of our creamy winter vegetable soup is clenched tightly in our fists and we sip as we finish preparing dinner. It is hot and warming, lightly filling and easy. It feels just about right.
- 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter or for vegan options, use coconut oil or olive oil
- Sea salt and ground pepper, to taste
- 1 lb. carrots (about 5-6 large carrots), peeled and diced
- 2 large russet potatoes, peeled and diced
- ½ large onion or one medium onion, peeled and diced
- 1 large stalk celery, or 2 small stalks, with leaves, using a peeler, remove the outer strings then dice (if using celery root, peel and dice)
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 Tablespoon tomato paste
- 4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
- ⅔ cup heavy cream or more for serving (optional) (Great Falls Creamery has great farm-fresh cream) *For vegan options, coconut milk would be a great substitute as it is thicker than other non-dairy options.
- Melt the butter or oil in a medium stockpot over medium low heat.
- Add the vegetables, stir to coat with butter and cover to simmer very gently until slightly tender and vegetables begin to exude their juices, about 7 minutes. Stir a few times while they simmer.
- Add the nutmeg, tomato paste and about a ½ teaspoon of salt, depending on the salt content of your broth. (Better to start low and add more, if necessary.)
- Stir vegetables in tomato paste until coated and continue to stir until tomato paste begins to stick to the pan.
- Add broth, increase heat to medium high, and bring to a simmer (begins to bubble and boil). Stir to deglaze (scrape pan with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula to loosen anything stuck to pan), then reduce heat to low and cover (soup should barely boil). Cook for 30 minutes.
- Using an immersion blender, or carefully transfer in batches to a blender, blend until soup is smooth. Taste to adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
- If using cream or coconut milk, add and stir. Heat over medium heat until slightly thickened and warmed through.
- Top with crushed roasted kale leaves, if desired.
Recipe for Roasted Kale, click here.
Feeling ambitious? Here is a terrific recipe and video instruction for making your own coconut milk. It’s not as difficult as it might seem….I’ve been told.