Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Pureed Vegetable Soup

Being a "recipe cook" myself, I have long admired people who can simply look in the cupboard, check what's in their fridge, and whip together a scrumptious meal. No cookbook, no directions, no guidance needed save what they already possess, whether from instinct, practice, or lessons absorbed from a mentor or two along the way.
I am thrilled to have discovered just such a mentor, though she's one I've never met except through her book. The teacher is Ellen Ecker Ogden, the book is From The Cook's Garden, and today's lesson is all about vegetable soup.
Did you know you can pretty reliably combine vegetables that grow in the same season and come up with taste combinations that just work? (Tomatoes and eggplant and basil in the summer, for example; or potatoes and leeks in cooler weather.)
I learned that from Ellen Ecker Ogden. I also learned that she starts most of her cooking from the garden simply by heating up a little olive oil, adding chopped onion and garlic, then running outside to see what's ripe.
Sounds like a successful recipe to me.
In that spirit, I recently tried her pureed vegetable soup. The olive oil, onions, and garlic were already on my shelves. From the freezer, I plucked a zippered baggie of 1 1/2 c. pumpkin puree I had made back in the fall (for instructions, see this post from Kevin's Closet Cooking blog). From my fridge came a couple of carrots. And from my kitchen window ledge came some home-grown, dried rosemary.

Have a little rosemary, won't you? Please. I insist.

The result? The best soup I have ever made. Absolutely delicious. Here are the instructions, in case you want to try it yourself.
2 T. olive oil
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 t. finely chopped fresh herbs or 1/2 t. dried herbs (I used rosemary)
3 c. chopped mixed vegetables (I used pumpkin puree and a couple carrots)
1 medium potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
4 c. vegetable broth (I used 4 c. water plus 4 vegetable bouillon cubes)
salt and pepper to taste
In large stockpot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook until soft, stirring, about 5 minutes. Add the herbs, vegetables, and potato, and cook about 5 more minutes, stirring often. Add the broth and let simmer over medium heat, with the pot partially covered, for about 30 more minutes. Vegetables should be tender. Process in blender in small batches until it's all pureed. Season with salt and pepper. Serve hot or cold.
A couple more hints from this book: You can add cream to this soup, or sherry, or fresh leafy greens before blending. You can also top with a dollop of sour cream or, my choice, plain yogurt.
So how about you: Are you a recipe cook? Or are you blessed with that instinct that lets you create away in the kitchen without written instructions?
NOTE: This post is linked to Works-for-me-Wednesday at the We Are That Family blog. Check it out for zillions of great ideas.
NOTE #2: Check out the "grow your own" roundup, for a collection of recipes that contain home-grown ingredients. Roundup hosted by Nate @ House of Annie blog.

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Blogger Tabby said...

Sounds amazing! I love soup! And I agree, it really doesn't matter what veggies you throw together--a nice soak in the 'hot tub' together makes them all best buddies. LOL Thanks for sharing!

February 24, 2010 at 8:06 PM  
Blogger Nate @ House of Annie said...

Since you are using homegrown rosemary, would you like to enter this post in our Grow Your Own roundup this month? Full Details at

February 24, 2010 at 8:34 PM  
Blogger Mimi said...

This is my kind of cooking, simple and tasty.

February 24, 2010 at 9:13 PM  
Blogger Lynn said...

Thanks, Nate, for posting the link to the home-grown ingredients carnival. Since not only the rosemary, but also the pumpkin in this soup was home-grown, I'll make sure to pop over and link up. Neat idea!

February 24, 2010 at 10:25 PM  
Blogger Karenpie said...

I love this kind of soup! Thick and hearty - thanks Lynn!

February 25, 2010 at 10:48 AM  
Blogger Flat Creek Farm said...

Yes, thank you, I will take some of that rosemary. That's a very healthy plant you have there! I'm a creative, non-recipe cook *sometimes*. Other times I'm just too independent to follow a recipe completely... lol. Or, because we live in the sticks I may not always have each ingredient on hand. Anyway, I may have to follow this recipe you've posted. It sounds yummy! Thanks! -Tammy

February 25, 2010 at 11:57 AM  
Blogger Carpool Queen said...

Hey Lynn, how do you make soup "unsweet"? Is it as simple as leaving the carrots out? I like veggie soups, especially roasted veggie soup, but sometimes it's just too sweet (maybe because of the caramelization during roasting).

More salt? Less vegetable? More garlic? Stronger broth?


February 25, 2010 at 1:04 PM  
Blogger Lynn said...

Carpool Queen, good question. I really don't know how you'd make veggie soup less sweet. Anyone else have any ideas?

February 25, 2010 at 1:23 PM  
Blogger Manuela@A Cultivated Nest said...

That book sounds right up my alley! Your soup looks amazing!


February 25, 2010 at 3:28 PM  
Anonymous Faith said...

I love Ellen's wonderful tips -- especially heating up some onion and garlic and running outside to see what's ripe! The best soup you ever made? I think I need to make it! :)

February 25, 2010 at 5:45 PM  
Anonymous veterankindergartenteacher said...

That looks absolutely delicious! Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving the nice comment!


February 25, 2010 at 7:42 PM  
Anonymous Troy said...

I use recipes when I make candy, and sometimes when I'm baking cookies or something. But as a general rule, I just toss stuff in and taste as I go.

In response to Carpool Queen's question, you can't really make something "unsweet" so what you have to do is balance the sweetness with another taste.

The two primary tastes to balance sweet are sour or heat. So, for your soup for example, you could add some tart Granny Smith Apples, and/or some apple cider vinegar. Or you may want to add lime juice, cilantro and a minced jalapeno. Personally I'd put the lime juice, jalapeno and cilantro together in a food processor and blend them well before I added them tot the soup, but that's just me.

Thanks for visiting my blog.

February 26, 2010 at 10:18 AM  
Blogger Lynn said...

Troy, thanks so much for the great information! Good knowledge for next time something tastes too sweet.

February 26, 2010 at 11:32 AM  
Blogger Ingrid_3Bs said...

Sounds lovely. Like yourself I need a recipe but I have gotten better and winging it. :) Almost there1

February 28, 2010 at 10:36 AM  
Anonymous Katy said...

I'm definitely a cookbook person. I'd swap the white potato out for sweet in this...

Such a useful hint to know that vegetables grown together in the same season go well together in a recipe. Excellent!

March 3, 2010 at 2:15 AM  
Blogger Ms D said...

Sounds so good! YUM!

March 20, 2010 at 3:10 PM  
Anonymous lucy said...

Hi I just made a parsnip celery and carrot leek and onion soup that is really too sweet, I am a really good soup maker normally, but I think the Parsnip was or IS the problem.I will try the apple vinegar or, and lemon juice. Thanks.susancomedner

December 6, 2011 at 6:15 AM  

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