Vegetable Soup

What’s good to eat on a cold day? Steamy vegetable soup. What’s good to eat on a cold day after having a root canal? This puréed vegetable soup. It’s soothing, nutritious, and delicious, whether you can feel your gums or not. And a bowlful requires no chewing, unless you serve it with a rustic, toothsome (sorry, B, I couldn’t help it) bread with butter. It’s not a bad way to end any kind of day!

Self-portrait in a spoon
Self-portrait in a spoon

This recipe adapts to just about any vegetable you have on hand. Just be sure to get a good representation of the core ingredients here: onions, celery, and carrots, which provide a stellar flavor base, and a potato or two for creaminess. Toss in more or less of everything, so long as you pour in an equal volume of water, with seasonings adjusted accordingly.

Here's where we start.
Here’s where we start.

Vegetable Soup, adapted from a recipe in Cooking with Lydie Marshall, by Lydie Marshall, © 1982 by Lydie Marshall. Published by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. 

— An immersion blender will make puréeing this soup a breeze. My instructions here include the use of one. You can also use a food processor or blender instead, but it’s a lot messier and time-consuming. Just sayin’. —

3 Russet potatoes (about 4 ounces each) — I used a single, large baking potato here, which weighed 12 ounces on its own.

4 medium yellow onions

4 carrots

4 ribs celery with their leaves

2 cloves garlic

A small bunch of fresh Italian parsley

10 cups water

Freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons salt

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

Pats of unsalted butter to float on top of each serving

1. Peel the vegetables. Cube the potatoes, quarter the onions, slice the carrots and celery into chunks, and coarsely chop the garlic and parsley. (I include the parsley stems, too.) Measure in cups the amount of prepared vegetables (usually about 10 cups), and use the same amount of water.

2. Put the vegetables in a stockpot, and season with the pepper and salt. Rub the dried thyme between the palms of your hands as you sprinkle it over the vegetables to extract the herb’s maximum flavor. Toss everything to distribute the seasonings evenly, then add the water. Cover with a lid and bring to a boil, then simmer for about an hour, or until all the vegetables are soft.

3. Using an immersion blender, purée the vegetables in the water (now stock)  until smooth, taking care not to get spattered by hot liquids.  (If you are puréeing with a food processor or blender, strain the vegetables from the stock [save the stock!] first, then process or blend the vegetables by spoonfuls before recombining with the stock. Put an immersion blender on your shopping list.)

4. Serve the soup hot, floating a pat of butter in the center of each bowlful. Garnish with a sprig of fresh thyme, if you happen to have some handy.

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