I started this blog with the intent of using it as a record of my crafting, but I don't know how interesting all of that is for other people to read. (Assuming anyone actually DOES read my blog...) So I thought I might mix things up a bit by adding a feature called Kitchen Creations. In addition to crafting, I also love to cook, and have been doing that a lot longer than I have been crafting. I love reading cookbooks, I subscribe to tons of cooking magazines, and I love to experiment in the kitchen! With this feature, I plan to occasionally share recipes, tips, or cooking adventures in the hopes that my creations in the kitchen will be useful and/or interesting to read.
For my first Kitchen Creations post, in honor of the crisp fall weather, I'm going to share a delicious and healthy soup recipe. Soups are one of my favorite things to make. One of the very first recipes I ever came up with on my own was a soup recipe. It was a cream of broccoli with cheddar that was inspired by a soup I'd tried at a restaurant and just HAD to have again (and again, and again!) My BFF Kendra will remember it from our college days, as it was a favorite during the cold seasons when we were rooming together. Now that I'm older, I try to stick to healthier soups, although I do make that broccoli and cheddar soup a couple of times a year for old times' sake. Soups are great to make at home, because they are so much better than anything you can get out of a can. They are warm and satisfying, and you can make a big batch that will last several days. I usually make a big pot of soup every Sunday from fall through spring, and even occasionally in the summer too. It's great to bring to work for lunch, and if I need something quick for dinner, it heats up in minutes in the microwave. If you've never tried making soup at home from scratch, consider giving it a try- it's really quite easy! One warning though- you may become a soup snob and be unable to eat canned soup ever again!
So, on to the recipe: Roasted Vegetable Soup, otherwise known as "clean out your vegetable crisper" soup. What's really great about this soup is that there are very few rules here- you can use just about any vegetables that you have on hand. I've made this soup several times now, and each time it's different, depending on what I have in my fridge. This recipe comes from my online friend Dina, who saw someone make a version of this on a TV show, and she shared it on the internet board where we are both members. Several other board members have tried it as well, and every single person who has tried it has come back to rave about it! Let's get started.
Fresh vegetables- whatever you have on hand. I used carrots, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, yellow bell pepper, zuchini, 1/2 of an apple, 1 parsnip, 1 onion, 1 russet potato, and a few cloves of garlic.
Chicken broth (you could also use vegetable broth, though I prefer chicken)
Salt and pepper to taste
Herbs for garnish (optional)
For this version, I also added a drained and rinsed can of garbanzo beans.
1.Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare vegetables for roasting- peel, cut, chop as necessary into relatively uniform bite-size pieces. For tomatoes, slice in half and squeeze the seeds out before chopping.
2. Put chopped vegetables onto a rimmed baking sheet in one layer. Use two baking sheets if necessary, like I did:
(It's times like these that I LOVELOVELOVE my double oven!)
3. Drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat. I just use my hands- it's faster- but you can use a wooden spoon or spatula.
4. Put pans into the preheated oven(s) and roast for 20-30 minutes. If you notice the veggies beginning to brown, stir with a spatula. Roast until veggies are slightly browned and mostly tender. Vegetables cook at different rates, so some vegetables might not be cooked through yet. That is OK. Remove from oven(s).
5. Dump all of your veggies into a large pot. Scrape as much of the roasted bits off of the pans- these are full of flavor!
7. Turn the burner on high and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, until all vegetables are cooked through and are tender when tested with a fork. Test your root veggies, such as carrots, as they take the longest to cook.
8. Puree the soup. You can do this in batches using a food processor or blender, however, I use an immersion blender.
I cannot tell you how much I love my immersion blender. If you don't have one, get one! Christmas is coming, so start dropping hints now!
Puree the soup until it is nice and smooth. It may look a bit like baby food. That's what my husband says it looks like, but don't worry- it tastes much better than baby food. Add additional liquids at this stage if necessary.
9. Add salt and pepper to taste. Simmer about 10 minutes more, and it's ready to serve!
I garnished mine with some chopped chives from my garden. My friend Dina recommends swirling in a little goat cheese right before serving. I have not tried this yet, but since there are very few things on the planet more delicious than goat cheese, I'm going to say that this is a really good suggestion!
Now, a few notes about this soup. Through the combined experiences of the gals in my internet group, we have determined a few absolutes about making this soup. One is to always add some apple. Why? Don't know, but it's just not the same without it. It adds depth and complexity and a touch of sweetness to the flavor. Two, always add some tomato. I used fresh tomatoes (the last from my garden), but canned tomatoes can be used as well. If you use canned tomatoes, do not add them to the roasting pan, as that will create too much liquid and the veggies will steam rather than roast. Just add the canned tomatoes in when you add the broth. Three, fresh herbs are wonderful in this soup! I added mine as a garnish, but you can certainly add some before the pureeing step. Thyme, tarragon, a little rosemary, dill, anything you have around would be lovely. You could also use dried herbs, although with those, be careful when adding, because dried herbs are much more potent than fresh, and it's easy to overdo them.
I mentioned that I added garbanzo beans to the soup, and I really loved the results. The beans, when pureed, help make the texture nice and creamy. Including a potato does as well, so if you don't like the idea of adding beans, just make sure you put in a potato or two. The garbanzos contribute a complex nutty, earthy undertone to the flavor of the soup, without having an overwhelming bean flavor. Plus, they are SO healthy- loads of fiber and protein. Try it- even if you're not a fan of beans. You won't even know that they're in there!
The possibilities are endless with this soup, limited only by what veggies you have available. It's a great way to use up veggies in your crisper drawer that are nearing their expiration date and that you might otherwise throw away. If your carrots or celery are a little limp, it won't matter!
I hope you have enjoyed this feature, and I look forward to doing more Kitchen Creations features in the future! I would love your feedback, so please feel free to leave me a comment. I'd especially like to hear from you if you try this recipe- please tell me how you liked it! Also, I'm happy to answer questions if anything in the recipe is unclear.
I'll be posting again soon with some more leaf projects, and I haven't forgotten about the giveaway I promised either, so be sure to check back!