Slurping on vegetable based soups is a wonderful way to stay warm and cozy as winter sets in (I'm actually slurping on a soup right now), so I thought I'd share a favorite simple soup recipes with you as well as a simple veggie stock that is worlds better than anything you'll buy in a store.
Veggie Stock (Makes 2 quarts)
1-2 Tbsp of Unsalted Butter or Olive Oil
2 onions, roughly chopped
2 shallots, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, smashed
2 stalks celery, roughly chopped
2 sprigs thyme
2 quarts water
Salt to taste
Saute the onions, shallots, celery, garlic and thyme in melted butter over medium-high heat until everything is softened, about 5 minutes. Add the water and salt, bring to a boil, lower heat, cover and let simmer between 30-60 minutes. Strain and refrigerate for up to a week (or freeze).
A good veggie soup consists of a fat, mire poix, seasoning, a stock and a "star" vegetable. All you have to do to make a great soup is saute any or all of the following: an allium (onion, leek or shallot) with garlic and/or carrots in your choice of fat. I personally prefer unsalted butter, but coconut oil or olive oil will also work. Then you add your "star vegetable(s)." I LOVE cauliflower, asparagus, or even a starchy vegetable like butternut squash. You also want to add seasonings. A squash soup calls out for sage, cinnamon, nutmeg and other fall flavors. You could add a curry for a more international flavor or you could stick with sea salt and pepper. You saute the veggies so that everything is coated in the fat. The fat is important because it carries the flavor of the vegetables through the soup. Even if you add just a smidge of butter, it will elevate your soup, so don't skimp out entirely. Next, you add your stock, enough to cover the veggies. (If you're out of stock, use water. You'll have to add some salt to compensate, but it will work.) Bring the soup to a boil, then lower the heat, then simmer until the veggies are tender. This time will vary, depending on the veggie. (Butternut squash will take longer than a non-starchy vegetable).
Once the veggies are tender, I like to blend my soup. I transfer the soup into my blender in small batches, cover the top of the blender with a towel (very important if you want to avoid hot soup in the face), and blend the soup until it's completely smooth. Enjoy what you want and store the soup for a few days in the fridge for easy reheating. Veggie soup makes a great addition to an office lunch if you're into cooked foods during the day. Here is one of the soups that I'm loving right now.
Cauliflower Leek Soup
Unsalted Butter, Olive Oil or Coconut Oil, to taste
1 leek, chopped (wash and drain)
2 cloves of garlic
1 head of cauliflower, chopped
a couple of pinches of red pepper flakes
enough veggie stock to cover the veggies
garnish with a bit of lemon juice and some sliced leeks or parsley
Follow the procedure above, or get creative. Really, the sky is the limit and you don't ever need to get bored.