Weeknight soup dinners are more achievable than you think.
No other food can elevate your mood the way that soup does, as it literally makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. So, on the days that your nose and fingertips feel borderline frostbitten and/or you’ve had a less-than-desirable day at work, a soothingly smooth bowl of soup can be everything you need to make it all feel better.
There are a few solid reasons why pureed soup should be on your radar during the colder months. For starters, it will change your mind about pouring soup from a can once you realize how uncomplicated it is to make a silky bowl from scratch. You can virtually use just about any vegetable (or combination of veggies) to make the soup. If carrots, broccoli, and asparagus tickle your fancy, they are all qualified soup candidates. For an added dose of convenience, you can even utilize frozen vegetables to achieve the ultimate soup glory.
My journey down pureed soup lane started when I had an overload of tomatoes and needed to use them before they spoiled. I cranked up my oven to 375°F, sliced the tomatoes into chunks, and roasted them with a few sprigs of thyme, garlic cloves, and a quartered small onion. With a quick whirl in the blender, the subtle sweetness and tang of the tomatoes turned into perfect bowl of creamy tomato soup. I stirred in a little warm cream and pesto sauce for the finishing touch and quickly found myself in soup heaven. I realized that this could be easily replicated with other vegetables, and immediately began plotting out future pureed soup endeavors. Here are a few easy-to-follow guidelines on how to make pureed soup without a recipe.
Pick Your Produce
You have a lot to choose from this time of year, so choose a veggie that you really enjoy. Many grocery stores carry pre-cut bags of butternut squash and cauliflower so you don’t have to prep them yourself. You can also use greens like spinach (best with frozen spinach) or kale. Beans are also great food to utilize in soup, in addition to or instead of vegetables. Simply soak a cup of dried black beans, cannellini beans, or lentils overnight, to have them ready to simmer on the stove the next day. If you’re in a hurry, you can also opt for canned.
You can prep your vegetables in a few different ways to make them easy to blend into a velvety soup. For vegetables that soften easily when cooked (greens, in particular), I recommend sautéing them in oil first until wilted. For an added kick of warm, herby flavor, add any dried spices such as thyme, oregano, or coriander at this time. Starchy vegetables like potatoes and yams can be boiled in water until tender and strained; be sure to heavily salt the water. For the vegetables that cannot withstand a rapid boil, such as broccoli, try steaming them instead. I like to roast my veggies (as I did with the tomatoes) because the process creates concentrated flavors and releases natural sugars when the veggies caramelize under high heat.
WATCH: How to Make Butternut Squash Soup
The next essential step to actualizing your dreamy pureed soup is to blend your cooked vegetables with a warm liquid. Depending on your preferences and what you have on hand, you can choose between broth (chicken, vegetable, or beef), water, or a mix of the two. (This allows you to better control the sodium levels in your food.) In a separate pot or microwaveable bowl, warm your liquid of choice, and carefully pour it into a high-powered blender along with your vegetables. Blend on the highest speed until your mixture is smooth. The warm liquid is key because it will keep your soup heated while blending it. However, when blending with heated ingredients, be sure to remove the center piece of the of blender lid to allow steam to escape. Cover the opening with a clean towel to avoid hot soup spatters. It's also smart to work in batches to prevent your blender from overcrowding. If you don’t feel like dealing with a clunky blender, an immersion blender will also do the trick.
Remember, you have control over the texture of your soup. If you like your soup on the heartier side, gradually add your liquid until it reaches the desired consistency. However, if your soup turns out thinner than you intended, adding a few slices of avocado is a great trick to thicken your soup without impacting the flavor. Once your soup is pureed to your liking, add additional salt and black pepper to taste. You may also want to consider stirring in a few tablespoons of heavy cream or coconut milk to create a silky richness. Now, pour the mixture straight from your blender into a bowl and immediately enjoy a warm spoonful of smooth, creamy soup. If your soup has lost some of its heat, pour the soup into a saucepan and warm it on the stove.
I’d advise you to have your rubber spatula handy to scrape out any remaining soup trapped at the bottom of your blender. You don’t want any of that velvety goodness to go to waste.