It’s about how easy it is to make soup, or rather — and I may be the one here most surprised at reading this — how easy it is to make soup with broth, when no broth is around.
I’ve mentioned before how I like soups that don’t require the use of broth, and I have already surreptitiously written about at least four soups that don’t require any broth because — at the risk of repeating myself — I’d rather not use store-bought broth if I can help it, and chicken broth doesn’t usually last long in this house. But somehow I had disregarded vegetable broth.
This soup has taught me that I can make great vegetable broth at a moment’s notice, pretty much simultaneously to making the soup.
All the broth requires is a few vegetables roughly chopped into chunks, thrown into a large pot, and generously covered with water. This takes no time at all. Then as the broth simmers away happily on its own, there is plenty of time to to pour a glass of wine, peel and chop the vegetables destined for the soup, and sweat them in some oil for a little while. By the time the broth needs to be poured in, it is ready.
The vegetables and quantities below are indications. I used rutabaga for the first time in this broth and loved the depth of flavor, but it’s by no need obligatory.
4 celery ribs
2 medium carrots
2 medium onions
1 medium rutabaga
Few sprigs parsley
2 bay leaves
3 quarts (3 liters) water
Trim the celery stalks and wash off the dirt; trim and wash the carrots. Cut the vegetables roughly into 1/2 inch (1 cm) pieces. Wash and trim the rutabaga and cut into pieces approximately the same size. Peel the onions and cut each half in three.
In a large saucepan, heat the oil, add the vegetables, and cook over medium heat until they begin to soften, about 5 to 10 minutes.
Add the parsley and bay leaves, cover with 3 quarts (3 liters) water, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 40 minutes, skimming off the foam as it rises.
Drain the broth through a fine mesh sieve before using.
The soup should be very creamy, though it contains no cream (in fact it’s vegan unless using crème fraîche as garnish). The key is to blend it thoroughly (a good 4 to 5 minutes) until it becomes perfectly smooth and velvety.
It is liberally adapted from the pumpkin, butternut squash, and parsnip soup in The New Low-Country Cooking by Marvin Woods.
2 medium onions
1/2 butternut squash
2 quarts (2 liters) vegetable broth (recipe above)
Small handful fresh sage leaves
Sea salt, freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg
Crème fraîche, pumpkin seed oil, and more sage leaves to garnish (either one of these or all three – optional)
Peel, wash, and coarsely chop the onions, carrots, leeks, parsnips, and the butternut squash.
In a large soup pot, heat enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pot. Add the onions and cook until they softens, stirring occasionally – about 10 minutes. Then add the leeks and the carrots. Cook, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes longer. Add the parsnips for another 5 minutes, then the butternut squash.
Add enough hot vegetable broth to cover the vegetables by a good inch. Once the soup simmers, cook for about 30 to 40 minutes, until all the vegetables are soft.
Finely chop the sage leaves.
In batches, scoop the vegetables and most of the broth as well as the sage into a food processor or blender (fill it up to only about 2/3 and hold the lid down tightly, or the steam released will make it pop up). **Do not pour in all the broth with the vegetables, keep some to adjust the consistency of the soup once everything is blended.**
Season with salt, pepper, and a little freshly grated nutmeg.
Serve garnished with crème fraîche and pumpkin seed oil, and a few sage leaves fried for 1 or 2 minutes in a little olive oil.