Yes, there is creamy soup without cream. It tastes better than the tongue-coating-viscous creations made by my French colleagues. (Heresy!! But true.) Plus, it allows you to leave the table without feeling like a food coma is immeninent.
Why do we put ourselves through the swallowing the basket ball phenomenon? At a recent dinner party, I was served an creamy artichoke soup that was “french-style”. When the first bite bathed my tongue in fat, I knew. It was NOT a cream-of-artichoke soup. Au contraire, mon amie! It was a cream-of-cream soup. Just the faintest whisper of veggie taste in the bowl. What sadness! What travesty to a fabulous artichoke, full of green rich earthy flavor, tons of fiber and lots of Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Folate, Magnesium, Potassium, Copper and Manganese.
Creamy soup can be a celebration of veggies. Bright tastes, gorgeous colors, lively layers of flavor with a final pop of delicious herbs and spices. You might even call them…the Super Models of the Food World.
Oh yes, you can create a creamy soup that not only looks good, but has tons of flavor and lots of healthy bennies for you, too! Three simple steps and that’s it. I’m sharing my Parsnip Soup recipe this week. But you don’t have to use parsnips. You can use whatever veggie you want to make this yummy, beautiful and rich, rich, rich soup. Just follow the directions below. Your family and friends will think YOU are the super model.
Step One – Sauté the Aromatics, Herbs and Spices
Start with the aromatics. Of course…onions. Also peppers, carrots, parsnips, fennel, leeks, shallots, potatoes. You get the picture. You can use anything that will add flavor, once caramelized by cooking. Sauté these aromatics in a TB or two of Olive, Canola or Grapeseed oil. The amount of oil you add will depend on the amount of aromatics in your pan. Saute until your aromatics are soft.
But don’t just add your aromatics. This is the time to ramp up the flavor and the benefits of your spices. Adding black pepper and turmeric to your sauté will greatly enhance the anti-inflammatory goodies of your soup. (Inflammation has been tied to cancer, heart disease and arthritis. Bad stuff.) Sautéing your spices will also remove the raw taste, and add another layer of flavor to your aromatics*. So sauté spices like the above mentioned pepper and turmeric, smoked paprika for a meaty flavor, cayenne and chili powders for a hit of spice. Ask yourself, “What do I want my soup to taste like?”
Step Two – Add Liquid and More Veg
Time to add in liquids. Falling in this category are stocks, canned tomatoes with juices, wine, beer, etc. You’ll add the amount of liquid based the quantity of aromatics and any other veggies that you add now, too. I tend to start with 4 – 6 cups and go from there. Beans, legumes or cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cauliflower or artichoke hearts go in now, too. Bring to a boil and turn down to a simmer. Twenty or thirty minutes at a slow simmering burble should be enough.
Step Three – Puree, Final Herbs and Spices and Garnishing
Time for the puree, adding additional herbs, and garnishing. Yum! In my kitchen, the immersion or stick blender aka “the boat motor”, is the way to puree. Transferring hot liquid to the blender is not my idea of fun, and there is more to wash. It takes a bit more time to get the puree smooth with the stick blender. But I’d rather blend longer than wash longer.
Once you’ve pureed to your hearts desire, now you add in additional herbs, spices and garlic. This includes seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. Or, use lemon juice or zest like I did below – it’s a great substitute for salt. If you’d like, sauté your spices or herbs and garlic together and add them in at the end. This lets the garlic sing! Your spices or herbs, will be brighter, too. Take a moment to think about the flavors of the cuisine that you are striving to express. Fresh basil for a rich red tomato and sweet potato soup, licorice-scented tarragon and crisp parsley for a French-style potato and leek soup, grassy cilantro and cool mint for a nouveau Latin American black bean soup.
And the garnish. My favorite is non-fat greek yogurt along with a crunchy crouton or the snap of acidity from a chopped tomato. Or both. You choose. Just make sure that you give your diner a chance to swirl something through that velvety goodness. If you are serving a vegan soup – hummus makes a wonderful topper with a sprinkle of briny olives and capers. A match made in heaven.
That’s it. You have made brilliant soup and raving fans. You’ve created your own recipe.Try it and let me know all about it. I empower you to start with the Creamy Parsnip Soup below and then create your own deliciousness. Have fun!
*Once, again, proof that cooking better, creates not only better tasting, but better-for-you food, too!
Rich, Warm and Wonderful Parsnip Soup
pan or wide stockpot or Dutch oven, sauté the onion, fennel, parsnips and
potatoes in 3 TB of oil with the turmeric, cayenne, salt and pepper. Cook and
stir over medium high heat until soft. (About 5 minutes)
a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for about 20 – 30 minutes.
stove and allow cooling for about 5 minutes. Then, using the immersion blender,
puree the soup until thick and creamy.
the remaining 1 TB of oil. Cook and stir the garlic, cumin seeds mustard seeds,
and coriander seeds in the oil, until the garlic begins to turn golden. Pour
the mixture into the soup, and stir in the lemon juice. Serve garnished with
yogurt and tomatoes.