Roasted Vegetable Soup
I was first inspired to use roasted vegetables in order to make soup after one of my fellow bloggers, , Lola Rugula, posted a recipe for a Roasted Garlic and Vegetable Soup. Up until then, I had never even thought of trying it and I was very pleasantly surprised by the depth of flavor that resulted. Here, I have made a soup using roasted Cauliflower, Leek, Carrot and Parsnip, all four of which are beautifully enhanced by the rich flavors produced during the roasting process.
The Basic Method
For this recipe, I have used a generous two cups of vegetables all chopped into smaller chunks. You can vary the proportions of the Cauliflower, Leek, Carrot, and Parsnip that I have used, or you can replace some or all of them with other vegetables of your own choosing. Just make sure that you cut them into suitable sized chunks depending on their density. For instance, you would likely want to end up with large pieces of Zucchini than, say, Turnip.
Once your vegetables are cut into appropriate pieces, you need to toss them with sufficient olive oil to coat them, and then add a little Salt and Pepper. I have actually used Garlic Salt here instead of plain Table Salt, chiefly because I am not using fresh Garlic. Other recipes may call for this (Lola’s did), but I find that roasted Garlic can sometimes take on a slight petroleum oil taste and I prefer to avoid that.
I like to roast my vegetables somewhat slowly, and doing so in a 325-degree oven for about an hour produces a good result. Here, you can see that that Cauliflower and the Parsnips show a lovely golden brown on some surfaces. During roasting, the caramelization of the natural sugars, and the compounds created by the Maillard reaction that cause the browning are what gives your vegetables an added depth of flavor they would otherwise have.
To turn your roasted vegetables into a soup, some liquid is needed. This could be just plain water (although this might produce an anemic result), but a stock of some sort if preferable. This could be a vegetable stock, if you want a pure, Vegan end product, but I like the richness of Chicken stock. A canned variety would be fine, but you could also follow my recipe for a Basic Chinese Chicken Stock.
You will want to simmer over a fairly low flame for up to two hours to extract the goodness of the roasted vegetables. Once you begin you can also add any additional aromatics or seasonings that suit your fancy. A little bit Thyme, would be very nice, or a sprinkle or two of Herbes de Provence, perhaps, but on this occasion, I chose to use a wee pinch of Saffron. This is a very expensive spice, and not something you want to use everyday, but it does add a very nice little flavor fillip in this instance.
Once done, you can use a hand blender to purée the soup to a nice, smooth consistency. As you can see, the result here is very thick and, unless you are going to strain it further (as we will see in a moment), you would probably want to add just a little extra stock to make up for what was evaporated during simmering.
If you want serve a slightly less ‘rustic’ dish than the very thick and hearty potage resulting from being simply puréed, you can also pass it through a strainer. You will lose a little bit of the ‘goodness’ of the soup, including a good deal of fibre, but the result will be suitable for service at a more ‘upscale’ dinner as opposed to an everyday meal. In the latter case, though, I can think of no better accompaniment than rounds of freshly baked bread with butter.