In the wintertime, no food satisfies quite like a bowl of steaming, creamy soup. But the problem with a lot of soup recipes is that they have so much cream! Is there a way to get the creaminess of a bisque with the healthfulness/nutrition and calorie count of your favorite vegetable soup? You betcha! The secret lies with an immersion blender — the hand-held tool that saves you from hot soup exploding out of the blender and the massive cleanup that ensues. Follow this easy formula and you can whip up a creamy but creamless soup in less than 30 minutes.
1: Soften the aromatics. In a Dutch oven, heat a tablespoon or 2 of olive oil or butter over medium heat. Add 1 chopped onion (or a similar quantity of shallots), maybe a little minced garlic and some diced celery if you have it on hand.
2: Add some root vegetables. Root vegetables, like potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, celery root, parsnips or carrots, are a must in a winter veggie soup. A potato can add a lot of creaminess to the finished soup. Celery root will contribute flavor, carrots or squash a lovely color. Cook for several minutes until they start to soften.
3: Spice it up. Now’s the time for some salt and pepper (if you’re going to be using a canned broth, watch that you don’t oversalt your soup with too much more). You can also add any herbs or spices. For root-vegetable soups, a dash of nutmeg is nice. Rosemary, bay leaves or curry powder might also work. Get creative!
4: Add softer vegetables. You could make a purely root-vegetable soup, but if you’re using other vegetables, now’s the time to throw them in. Broccoli, cauliflower, peas, peppers or anything else that needs less cooking time can be added at this point. Cook for another couple minutes, stirring occasionally.
5: Add piping hot broth. Pour in enough hot chicken or vegetable broth to cover the vegetables, plus another half inch. Semicover the pot and let it simmer on low heat until all the vegetables have completely softened.
6: Blend it all together. Take the pot off the heat and blend with your immersion blender. You can puree the entire batch to make a smooth, creamy soup, or leave some chunks if you want more texture. Adjust seasonings to taste.
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