Cream of Whatever Soup
Updated: March 2020 – now includes an option for “creamless”
The following is a recipe for Butternut Squash Soup… but it’s also a formula for you to adapt to pretty much whatever vegetable you like… cauliflower, carrot, broccoli, potato… ok, maybe not whatever vegetable. I’m not sure how this would work with say, radishes.
Anyways, this soup has just four basic ingredients, not including some oil and seasonings. An aromatic, some stock/broth, a vegetable, and some cream. Before we get to the actual recipe, I’ll give you a bit of information on each of ingredients, so you can see how you can adapt it based on your own tastes, what you have on hand or just your mood.
Aromatic. An aromatic is a food that offers up a pleasant or distinct smell. In the case of this soup, we’re looking at some specific ones… the allium family, which covers garlic, onions, shallots, leeks, scallions, ramps, and chives. For this soup, I wanted the subtle flavor of shallot for this particular soup. If you’re doing a potato version, try leeks. A sweet onion, like a Vidalia, would work well with cauliflower or broccoli. How much will depend on how pungent your choice is, and how you’re pairing it, but probably best to err a bit on the mild side.
Stock/Broth. Chicken tends to be my go-to. A beef broth.. eh… can’t really think of a vegetable to pair that flavor with. Vegetable broth itself is also fine, of course. A home-made bone broth would be divine. If you’re going with packaged, grab the low-sodium versions, you can always add more salt if you feel it’s needed. Now stocks are likely going to be unseasoned, broths have some seasonings, so keep that in mind when picking what to use.
Vegetable. Root vegetables work great here, potato, sweet potato, carrot. Hmm, I think I want to try parsnips next. Winter squashes, ones with firm, solid flesh. Don’t think spaghetti squash would give the desired finished texture. I almost grabbed a sugar pumpkin instead of the butternut for batch, it’s that time of year. You’ll want to start with 1-1/2 to 2 pounds worth at the store.
Cream. My original version of this called for half-and-half. I don’t use that really for much of anything anymore, instead, I try to keep some cans of evaporated milk on hand. It can lend a nice creaminess without the fat content of half-and-half. Whatever milk you have on hand should work too. I haven’t tried it, but I don’t see why things like almond milk or cashew milk wouldn’t work just as well. Of course, the level of actual creaminess you get will vary with what you use. So go with what you like. You’ll be using about 1-1/2 cups.
When it comes to blending this, a stick-blender is best. You can do so right in the pot. If you have to use an actual blender or food processor, just make sure you don’t overfill your container and end up with scalding soup splashing all over. Please? Thank you.
Seasoning. Think about the vegetable and how you would jazz it up if you were eating it straight up. Broccoli? How about a dash of lemon pepper seasoning? Cauliflower? I actually love adding some cayenne pepper for just a touch of zing. Potato? Probably just your basic touch of salt and fresh ground pepper.
Finishing touches. When serving, top your soup with something to compliment it. I wanted pumpkin seeds for this squash soup, but didn’t have any, settled for some sunflower seeds and some chopped scallion. Potato soup? A dollop of Greek yogurt (or sour cream), chopped bacon and shredded cheese. Broccoli? Stir in some shredded cheese and let it melt in before serving.
March 2020 Update
Want to try a creamy soup, but don’t have any cream? Or maybe you can’t have dairy? I’ve been playing about and have done a few soups now where instead of using any sort of milk or cream, I add 1.5 cups (or 1 can drained) of a white bean such as chickpeas or white navy beans along with the vegetables. I let them get nice and soft and then blend them in with the vegetables. It as a richness and almost sort of creaminess without any cream.