World traveler and professional chef, Shannon Smith, owner of Beads and Basil.
We are nearing that time of year when soup is the perfect medicine for the soul. The weather is cool and crisp, so what better thing to make for dinner than a hearty soup? There are many options and varieties of soups, but one of the easiest is what I call Blender Soup. To the bowl of a blender, you just add cooked vegetables, broth, some aromatics, and blend until smooth. I like to dress it up with fresh herbs or nuts, but it’s really important to choose fresh vegetables.
My favorite way to cook vegetables is by bathing them in olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roasting them in a hot oven for 30-40 minutes. Cook them long enough to get a little color, which just adds more flavor. This is where you can get creative, and make your own custom “blends”. My personal favorite is roasted butternut squash soup with an apple added to the blender for a touch of sweetness. Roasted carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, asparagus, tomatoes and potatoes are great choices for taking the role of leading actor in blender soups.
Place the cooked veggies in the blender and add your choice of liquid, whether it’s chicken broth, vegetable broth, coconut milk, or a combination. Then you should add some aromatics, such as onions, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, fennel, peppers, and chile powder. If your fresh herbs are fading in the cooler weather, you can add smaller amounts of dried herbs like sage, oregano, thyme, or basil. Blend the ingredients until they’re smooth, adding more liquid if necessary. Pour into a saucepan and heat on the stove, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.
Ladle into bowls and garnish with herbs, chopped vegetables, cream, or chiles. The options are endless, and you can come up with your own recipes depending on what you have on hand, or enjoy the most. Here are my two favorite blender soup recipes using butternut squash and roasted tomatoes. Find more soup recipes on my website, www.beadsandbasil.com.
Fire Roasted Tomato Soup
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- 2 (14 oz.) cans fired roasted diced tomatoes
- 1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp. fresh basil, torn (or 1/2 tsp. dried basil)
- 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, and cook until fragrant,
2 to 3 minutes.
Put onion mixture into the bowl of a blender. Add broth, tomatoes, basil, balsamic vinegar and red pepper flakes. Blend until smooth, then pour mixture into a saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and cover with lid. Simmer for 10 minutes, then add the cream and salt, to taste. Turn off heat and serve. Garnish with pine nuts and fresh basil.
Note: If tomatoes are in season, you can slice them in half, drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper and place on a foil-lined baking sheet. Roast in 375 degree oven for 40-50 minutes, until blistered and soft. Remove skins, if desired.
Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
- 1 large butternut squash
- 1 apple, peeled
- 1 yellow onion, peeled
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
- 3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- 2 leaves of fresh sage (or 1/2 teaspoon dried sage)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut the butternut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds and stringy bits with a spoon. Cut apple in half, and remove stem and core. Cut off onion root and stem, and cut in half. On a foil-lined baking pan, place the butternut squash, apple, and onion halves. Drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 30 minutes. Remove apple and onion from the pan and set aside. Continue roasting butternut squash for another 30 minutes, until tender. Allow to cool a few minutes. Using a spoon, scoop out the squash and put into the bowl of a blender. Add the roasted apple and onion, ginger, broth, and sage leaves. Blend until smooth. Pour mixture into a saucepan and bring to a boil, adding more broth if too thick. Reduce heat and allow to simmer for 10 minutes. Taste to see if more salt and pepper are needed, then serve in bowls. Garnish with toasted pipitas and a sprinkle of paprika, if desired.
Note: You can add coconut milk in place of half the broth, if desired.
See more about Blending Into Fall: