The delights of a luscious puréed vegetable soup

“Good soup is one of the prime ingredients of good living.  For soup can do more to lift the spirits and stimulate the appetite than any other one dish.” Louis P. DeGouy, ‘The Soup Book’ (1949) DeGouy was the Chef at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel for 30 years; he apprenticed with Escoffier

The pleasure of a good soup is not purely in the moment of consumption, but equally in the preparation and anticipation of feasting on a hot (or cold) bowl flavorful nourishment. The experience truly is an ultimate titillation of all our senses.

There’s a deep sense of connection with mother earth when working with vegetables…cleaning, chopping, sautéing…something so pure and wholesome.

“An old-fashioned vegetable soup, without any enhancement, is a more powerful anticarcinogen than any known medicine.” James Duke M.D. (U.S.D.A.)

Last week, I found myself standing in the produce section of our local Whole Foods market facing shelves upon shelves of seasonal, fresh, local, organic vegetables, moist with the recurring timed sprays of water from the sprinklers under the counter. Vibrant colors lined the shelves calling out my name. Pick me…no pick me…no pick me. I couldn’t decide which to choose, so I chose several…gorgeous bouquets of broccoli, pure white garland of cauliflower, a lovely bulb of fennel, bundles of carrots and parsnips.

Mood Food takes on a whole new meaning…one of encouragement when the food for the mood is one that combines nothing but the most wholesome and freshest of earth’s produce.

“There is nothing like soup. It is by nature eccentric: no two are ever alike, unless of course you get your soup in a can.” Laurie Colwin, ‘Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen and ‘More Home Cooking: A Writer Returns to the Kitchen.’ She was an American novelist who cooked, and who wrote a column in Gourmet magazine for a few years.

Test your culinary knowledge

What is the difference between cream of (x) soup versus puréed (x) soup? Use my soups culinary technique refresher index cards to get the answer.


Puréed Vegetable Soup

A note on the mise part, the prep for this soup is rustic and simple. To help the ingredients cook at the same time, dice and slice all in the same size range. The key technique to help layer the ingredients is to start with the less-liquidy veggies like the carrots, parsnips and cauliflower first to allow them to caramelize before adding on the more watery ingredients like the broccoli, onions, fennel, and celery.

You’ll notice that I used water versus stock as the liquid base to keep the soup as pure as possible. As much as I appreciate the valuable contribution of a good quality stock, I, sometimes, prefer the simplicity of how water allows the star ingredients take the center stage. Use what you wish, experiment with different approaches. Doesn’t matter which you choose as long as you enjoy the end results.

3 tbsp olive oil

4 medium carrots, sliced

2 medium parsnips, sliced

1 bouquet of cauliflower, roughly chopped

1 large bouquet of broccoli, roughly chopped

1 large cooking onion, sliced

1 large fennel, sliced

4 ribs celery, sliced

2 Gala apples, cubed

1 Bosc pear, cubed

Thyme sprigs

Sage leaves

Dry sherry

Enough water to cover plus 2-inches

Cream, half-and-half, or milk, enough to get to desired consistency

Heat oil in large stock pan, on medium-high heat and gradually add the ingredients.

Start with the carrots, turnips, and cauliflower along with the thyme and sage leaves. Cook to caramelize for about 10 minutes. Add the broccoli, onions, fennel, celery, apples, and pears. Cook until ingredients release moisture.

Add cold water to cover plus 2-inches. Bring to boil, cover and cook until vegetables are all cooked tender. Keeping adding water, as needed, during the cooking process.

Once the veggies are completely cooked and soft, whip out your immersion blender, if you don’t have one, you can easily use your food processor, but will likely need to puree in batches.

Return the puréed soup back to the stock pot on low medium-low heat, and add enough cream to reach your desired consistency.

This soup keeps well in the refrigerator for 3-4 days and can be frozen for up to 4 months.

This batch yields enough for 12-14 servings.

“A first-rate soup is more creative than a second-rate painting.” Abraham Maslow was a professor of psychology at Brandeis University who founded humanistic psychology and created Maslow’s hierarchy of needs

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