Rooting for a roasted vegetable soup

image_5[I] don’t need much urging to head for the soup pot, whether the weather is cold…or if it’s hot! Rhyming aside, soups, to me, are the perfect food. A good soup is filling and satisfying and if the right components make up the soup, everything a body needs is in one bowl.

This time of year abounds with earthy, harvest-relevant recipes, including soups, loaded with late-summer veggies like squash, roots, corn and beans. One I love and could make every week is an absolute flavor and nutrient bonanza — roasted vegetable soup. Comprised mainly of such rooty goodies as carrots (try the multicolored ones), parsnips, beets and potatoes, it can really be re-invented with any number of vegetables to suit your liking. I’ve used both leeks and onions, added rutabaga or fennel for an unusual flavor twist, used yellow squash for a golden richness. Roasting vegetables, or anything really, brings forth the best flavor imaginable…even in things like kale and brussels sprouts taste remarkably good if given some lovin’ oven time.

Roasting veggies is easy. Essentially, vegetables are laid out on a sheet pan, coated in olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper and maybe some herbs, such as thyme and rosemary.

image_1They are then roasted til tender (and the smell of these veggies roasting is a reward unto itself). It’s tempting to eat the veggies as is, and you are welcome to do so, but whatever leftovers you have (or use the whole batch), please, please, please, turn them into soup. It’s very simple: the veggies are added to a large pot of heated stock (vegetable or chicken), that has been seasoned with sautéed onions and celery.

Once all has heated a bit, the soup is blended to a somewhat smooth consistency. This can be done handily with an immersion blender (one of my favorite cooking implements) or done carefully in batches in a pitcher-style blender. Once all has been pulverized sufficiently (my preference is to leave a little tooth so some nubby and nummy texture remains in the consistency), the soup is tasted and salted and peppered, if needed.

You cannot ask for a better soup, rain or shine. It is buttery without butter; creamy without cream. It is filling without stuffing oneself with something unhealthful to the point of discomfort. In fact, this is one of the healthiest things you can eat, and you can almost feel your body telling you so by its level of satisfaction and slight surge of energy. The roots, particularly that so-flavorful parsnip, provide an earthy sweetness. (Please try a parsnip if you have not up to this point. It is like the best carrot ever with a little zing of spice.) And as the weather chills this fall and the light dwindles, a good soup, more than anything, can keep the spirits warm and bright.

Roasted Vegetable Soup
Serves 4 to 6
4 cups vegetables (such as sweet potato, yukon gold potato, turnip, parsnips, carrots, beets, yellow squash, leeks, chopped in 1- to 2-inch pieces)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 cup chopped onion
1 stalk celery, diced
4 to 6 cups vegetable or chicken stock

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with nonstick foil. Spread veggies in an even layer on the sheet drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, chopped rosemary and thyme. Bake until fork tender and slightly caramelized, 25 to 35 minutes.

In a large soup pot, heat olive oil on medium heat, add onions and celery and sauté until slightly translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add stock to pot, then carefully add roasted vegetables, including juices. Heat until simmering. Carefully pulverize to desired consistency with immersion blender or ladle soup in portions into a pitcher-style blender and pulse until creamy. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Blogger’s Note: Begin with 4 cups of stock…if a thinner soup consistency is desired, you can add more stock after blending the vegetables.

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