How a soup can be luxurious is less important than how luxurious a soup can be. And if you don't understand, you never will. But just for you, I'll add this: This soup is sweet and savory, rich and flavorful. You'll feel full, but also healthy - how can this fit so many criteria while being so easy to make?
I found this recipe on the New York Times Cooking App, which I've mentioned before but will mention again and again and again. I'm clearly a huge fan of this app. From teaching cooking basics in the "Learn to Cook" video section to outlining food and drinks ideas that will ease you in to more complicated recipes, their clean interface has it all - including the ability to save recipes to a home screen and add or read other viewer's notes while trying each recipe out.
Although there's a special place in my heart for each of the authors on the app, I keep coming back to Martha Rose Shulman's recipes. She always seems to find new ways to play with healthy foods so that the boring veggies you have at home seem appealing and fun, and to make you interested in other foods you never imagined would sound delicious. Everything just seems so comforting! Current recipes of hers I saved include: Endive Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing, Salmon Rillettes, Three-Greens Gratin, and Crispy Spiced Kale.
I Now, back to what I actually made! Martha's Winter Vegetable Soup with Turnips, Carrots, Potatoes, and Leeks was super simple to put together; in fact I made it for the next day while my braised short ribs were in the oven for that night's dinner! Since everything goes in with the water you don't have to worry about making your house smell like garlic and onions by cooking those in oil first, and you don't need to cut the veggies into pretty shapes since they'll be pulverized soon enough. The most work you're doing is cleaning and cutting the veggies, and once the soup is ready you get to do the fun part - putting it in batches through the blender! Or an immersion blender if you're a fancy-pants.
The following is how I made Martha's soup at home, including the adjusted ingredients. Click on her link to compare if you're thinking of making it at home to decide what works best from you, or if you're thinking of planning on playing with the recipe at home. And let me know how it turns out!
Serves: 6 dinner portions, 10-12 appetizer portions
Total Time: 1 hour
3 large leeks - white parts only
2 garlic cloves
3 large carrots
1 celery stalk
1 large turnips
1 pound russet potatoes (I used four large potatoes)
1/2 quart beef stock
1 quart water
A bay leaf and a few sprigs thyme (parsley is also recommended but I didn't have any at home!)
Big pinch of salt and a few rotations of a black pepper grinder
¼ cup crème fraîche, if desired (half of our group didn't even add it after trying the soup alone!)
- Clean and chop vegetables into even sizes. Like I said above, this is the most work you'll have to do: peeling and chopping the carrots, turnip and potatoes, cutting the leeks and cleaning them thoroughly (I chopped the white part in half lengthwise, then cut into fine pieces before running through a salad spinner a few times to clean). But take out a big knife, turn on a jam, and chop away the week's frustrations and you'll be relaxed and done with the big job in a few minutes.
- Add chopped vegetables along with beef stock and water to a large pot. Martha recommended just water, but I thought it might be fun to add a little complexity and flavor from beef stock, plus I had it out for the short ribs at the time. Add salt, pepper, and bay leaf and thyme (parsley if you grabbed some, too!).
- Bring the pot to a boil, then cover and leave at a simmer (I had it medium for about 20 minutes then since it was still pretty bubbly moved it to medium-low), stirring occasionally. I'm a weirdo about finding bay leaves in my food later so I leave it in a very obvious spot and stir around it, watching it like a hawk. Feel free to be a little less of a weirdo and let it disappear for a bit (but regret not heeding my warning when you're searching for it later)!
- Taste a few pieces - I go for the turnip with a little broth and a piece of leek - to make sure the veggies are fall-apart soft, then turn off heat and move pot to a cool burner. If you're Coolio you can use an immersion blender now, otherwise wait until the soup has cooled enough to handle and run it in batches through your blender. I ladled 3 or so cups in the blender at a time and pulsed manually for about 10 seconds before pouring in a big bowl. The first two batches I finely pulsed, and the last two I left some bigger pieces in since I was scared of making it too much of a baby food consistency. The combination really balanced out!
- Cover and serve later, or return to your soup pot and reheat. With the crème fraîche, I'd recommend letting each diner decide if they want it or not instead of adding it to the whole soup pot. When we ate it, each person ladled out their serving into a bowl and microwaved it, either with the crème fraîche spooned in and mixed before heating or not using it at all (no need to clean another pot!). This can be fun to play around with though, so do whatever makes you happy!
What a fantastic way to make a relatively hands-off but super impressive winter warmer. Thanks again to Martha for her #FoodInspo !