All you need is a splash of cream and a blender.

The moment the weather turns, I get somewhat obsessed about soup. Whether it is dumping the treasures from a trip to the salad bar into the slow cooker with stock for a lazy vegetable soup or simmering roasted chicken bones and aromatics all day for the base for chicken soup, or soaking black beans for simmering in ham stock. I am all-in on soup.

I also love to entertain with soup. Whether it is a large pot for a crowd, like a pot au feu, or an elegant little starter, soup can be a hostess’s best friend. It can always be made ahead and served either chilled or hot. Reheating is a breeze in a slow cooker or on the stove on low. And it can be garnished in a million ways. Add some salad and crusty bread and you have a whole meal or serve as a starter.

One type of soup I love to make for entertaining is a creamy vegetable soup. A silken combination of pureed vegetables, stock and dairy can be as simple as three ingredients or can be elevated with a dozen. And once you know the technique, you’ll be off to the races. You can start with leftover cooked vegetables, frozen vegetables, or cook from scratch.

For starters, whatever vegetable you choose, either reheat or cook just the amount of broth you need to come up to the level of the vegetables but not covering. If you want, you can keep it vegetarian by using vegetable stock or even plain water. I like to use one vegetable, for pure flavor, sometimes I might add a bit of garlic, shallot or onion to enhance. When the vegetables are cooked to total tenderness, so that you can mash easily with a fork, puree with an immersion blender or in your regular blender. Add dairy in the form of whole milk, half and half, cream, or canned evaporated milk, or a non-dairy milk if you need to keep it vegan, just enough to thin the puree and add richness. Return the mix to your pot and reheat, reducing slightly if you want your soup to thicken a bit.

Season to taste and add any herbs you might want, and garnish to your hearts delight. You can serve hot or chilled. The base freezes beautifully before you add the dairy, so I often make a large batch and then freeze the base so that all I need for soup is to thaw, reheat and add the dairy of my choice.