It all started with cauliflower soup. My first attempts at cauliflower soup were—shall we say—uncomplicated. I’d boil cauliflower in chicken broth, puree it in the blender, stir in some milk or yogurt for creaminess and top it off with some fresh thyme. Yes, the soup was uncomplicated, but it was also utterly uninteresting, not to mention it bore an undesirable resemblance to homemade baby food.
Thankfully, I discovered a recipe for Roasted Heirloom Cauliflower and Chestnut Soup on the beautiful blog Roost. Yes, roasted cauliflower soup. Roasting would be the key to transforming baby-food-quality cauliflower soup into something worthy of sophisticated dinner party fare.
The amazing thing is you can roast any vegetables and make them into soup, which is great because roasting yields immense flavor with minimal effort. I followed the method for Roasted Cauliflower Soup, but instead of cauliflower I roasted squash with the onion wedges and garlic cloves. When the veggies were starting to blacken, I removed them from the oven, boiled them in chicken broth and then pureed them with an immersion blender. Delicious pureed veggie soup in an hour—now that’s hard to beat.
This is the kind of soup you can make with whatever you have on hand, so the proportions in the recipe below are not exact. Experiment and try making the soup with other vegetables: sweet potatoes, pumpkin, butternut squash. And while the soup recipe is still uncomplicated, roasting the veggies renders it both complex and flavorful—in other words, completely worthy of a grown-up’s soup bowl.
1 2-3 pound squash, cut into wedges (I used a Carnival squash)
1 medium onion, cut into wedges
6-8 garlic cloves, papery skins removed
Freshly ground black pepper
4-6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
Special equipment: immersion blender (or regular blender or food processor)
Make the Roasted Squash Soup
Place rack in middle of oven and preheat oven to 425°F. Line a large baking dish with aluminum foil and place squash, onions and garlic in baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Stir the vegetables with your hands to evenly coat them with olive oil and salt and pepper. Roast the vegetables in the oven for 30-45 minutes, until squash is tender and the veggies are fragrant and beginning to blacken.
Heat the chicken or vegetable broth in a saucepan on the stove over medium heat. Using a spoon or knife, remove the squash flesh from the skin. Place the squash flesh, onions and garlic into the pan with the broth and simmer until the vegetables are completely cooked through (particularly the onions). Using an immersion blender, carefully blend the vegetables and broth to form a pureed soup. Add broth or water if soup is too thick; continue cooking if soup is too thin. Garnish with fresh herbs.