Today’s weather brought dark and stormy skies, which is another way of saying it’s a good time for soup.
We made this fiery version recently out of a heap of roasted vegetables, and while the corresponding recipe is included below, the truth is that making it is much more about mastering a basic method than it is about closely adhering to a list of ingredients.
Roast a bunch of chopped vegetables in oil, whatever types you like, simmer them in hot water, puree, add milk, add seasonings, and adjust the texture and taste to your liking.
To be completely honest, this is how we cook on most days.
Let’s just say, for the sake of argument, that there are two main ways to approach recipes:
1. One person finds a recipe, maybe like the one written here for a kick-in-your-pants-spicy soup, and she looks in her fridge and realizes the ingredients that she has on hand don’t quite match up with what’s needed. So, she either:
a. saves the idea for another day when she’s able to buy everything required, or
b. abandons it altogether.
2. At the same time, another person acquires the same recipe, and reads it to gain an understanding of the rough outline of what’s required. Instead of following it to the letter, she instead pulls out all of the carrots, onions, mushrooms, potatoes, and zucchini lurking in her pantry and crisper drawers. Experimenting with what she has on hand, she applies the same strategy to these ingredients, and makes a delicious meal.
One person caters to the recipe, and skips it for the day – or possibly forever. The other gets the recipe to cater to her, and she’s gleefully slurping delicious soup as we speak.
What’s the real difference here? Why is one person line-by-lining it, while the other only sees the provided instructions as a guide?
For me, the biggest difference involves time – that incomparably valuable resource that is usually required to learn to do anything, be it speaking a language, riding a bike or getting a handle on basic HTML.
Can you relate? Has it been this way for you?
In my experience, cooking has been, and continues to be, all about practice. About trying over and over and over again, in new ways and the same ways.
You might not get it right on the first try, but you keep going until, one day, you’re making roasted broccoli in the same way that you drive a car, mostly through instinct. And you’re barely conscious of the way you’re waiting for the smell of crispy florets to tell you when they’re done, rather than the ding of a timer.
That progression from looking at a raw potato to wondering, “How does this become French fries?” to sitting down to a delicious meal – or pulling one together on the spot, with what you have, maybe even completely without a written recipe – does not happen overnight, at least not for most of us.
But usually, with determined effort, with hunger and desire and dedication, it comes.
In our home, Tim and I usually look in the fridge and opt for whatever’s easiest – zucchini to sautee and a salad to toss, leftover soup and toast rubbed with garlic, beets to roast and top with goat cheese and toasted hazelnuts.
There are times, of course, when we choose to make something finer, something bigger, especially when we’ll be dining with guests. And some meals require more preparation, like soaking quinoa in advance, slow-cooking pot roast, or preparing a quiche.
But most nights, we’re throwing quick meals together – not through any great skill but from practice, which is the kind of thing I wish I’d heard more often when I was just beginning. And, to be honest, which I wish heard from food bloggers and home cooks and great chefs more often.
Like any athlete or rescue worker or businessperson, when it’s go time, we’re all mostly drawing on the years we’ve spent trying to reach the ultimate goal. And we remember those times when we didn’t quite get there, the failed frittatas and fallen souffles (a common failed food analogy, though one that few seem to have actually attempted at home these days), the terrible pie crusts and the cakes that fell flat, or turned gray.
When these missteps happened, the failures felt like tragedies. But years later, with a little reflection, we can come to realize that they’re actually gifts.
We can learn from these experiences, and continue to build our skill. And we can look into the refrigerator, see what we have available, pull a few basics off the spice rack, and make a delicious meal.
My intention with the following soup recipe is to provide a method for cooking. I’ve outlined what I did to make mine, but the idea is so simple and basic that it can easily be adapted to whatever works for you, based on what you have available.
I should also note that, as written, with two whole jalapenos, this soup is hot (!!!). If you prefer your food on the mild side, do yourself a favor and leave them out, or at the very least, remove the seeds (do it with gloves! another life lesson!). Again, and I can’t emphasize this enough, what’s wonderful about this recipe is that it’s crazy adaptable.
If you’re looking for a vegan option, you can use vegetable broth and non-dairy creamer, with nutritional yeast for garnish.Print
Like a little kick to your healthy soup? Our spicy roasted vegetable version is for you. It’s easy to use up extra produce with this simple dish.
- 1 eggplant, quartered and cut into discs (about 2 1/2 cups)
- 2 yellow summer squash, sliced into rounds (about 2 cups)
- 2 carrots, peeled and sliced into ½-inch-thick rounds (about 1 cup)
- 1 green bell pepper, seeded and sliced (about 1 cup)
- 1 tomato, cut in half
- 1/2 large onion, peeled and sliced (about 1 cup)
- 2 large jalapeno peppers, sliced into ½-inch-thick rounds (about 1/2 cup)
- 3 tsp coconut oil, melted
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 5 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp ground coriander
- 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
- 1/2 cup heavy cream or non-dairy creamer
- Grated Pecorino or nutritional yeast, for garnish (optional)
- Preheat oven to 425˚F. Line two rimmed baking sheets with aluminum foil, parchment paper, or silicone mats.
- Combine the vegetables in a large mixing bowl bowl and add the coconut oil, salt, and pepper. Toss to coat the vegetables evenly. Divide evenly on the prepared baking sheets and roast for 30 minutes, stirring once or twice, until the vegetables are tender and golden.
- Remove from oven and place in a large stock pot on the stove. Add the broth and spices, then bring to a simmer over medium heat. Continue to simmer for 20 minutes.
- Remove from heat. Using an immersion blender, blend until smooth. Stir in cream, and add extra broth or cream if desired to adjust consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Ladle into bowls, garnish if desired, and serve warm.
Keywords: soup, spicy, roasted vegetable, fall
Cooking By the Numbers…
Step 1 – Prep and Measure
Preheat oven to 425˚F. Line a couple of rimmed baking sheets with aluminum foil or silicone mats. You could also use parchment paper.
Remove the ends from the eggplant and cut it into quarters. Cut into 1/2-inch slices and place in a large bowl.
Remove ends from the squash and slice into rounds. Add these to the bowl.
Peel the carrots and remove the tops. Slice 1/2-inch rounds. Add to the bowl with the other vegetables.
Remove the stem and seeds from the bell pepper. Slice into strips and add to the large bowl.
Remove the core of the tomato, then cut it in half and add it to the bowl as well.
Peel the onion and cut off both ends. Slice and add to the bowl. Not a fan of chopping those onions? If just the thought of this task brings tears to your eyes, check out this article for some helpful tips.
Discard the stems and cut the jalapeno peppers into 1/2-inch-thick rounds. If you prefer your soup a little less spicy, cut the jalapenos in half first and remove the seeds and ribs. Cut each half into thirds. Place the jalapenos in the large bowl.
Melt the coconut oil and set it aside. I put mine in a microwave-safe bowl and heat it at half power in 15-second bursts until melted.
Measure the remaining ingredients so they will be ready to go when you need them.
Step 2 – Roast Vegetables
Add the melted coconut oil, salt, and pepper to the vegetables in the bowl.
I like to use freshly ground black pepper since it provides the freshest and most pungent flavor, and my trusty pepper mill is an absolute must. Stir to coat all of the vegetables evenly, and spread them out in an even layer on the prepared baking sheets.
Roast for 30 minutes, stirring once or twice as the vegetables cook to keep them from sticking and to promote even cooking. Remove from the oven.
Step 3 – Simmer Soup
If you like, and you have a little extra time on your hands, you could even toast and then grind your own cumin and coriander seeds with your mortar and pestle for a super-flavorful spice blend.
Just put the spices in a dry pan over medium heat for a few minutes. Toss to prevent burning, until they release their oils and their aroma fills the air. Grind until smooth and fine, then add to the pot.
Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-high heat. Let simmer for 20 minutes.
Step 4 – Finish Soup
Remove the stock pot from the heat.
Use an immersion blender to blend the soup together until it is smooth. If you don’t have one, you could also use a high-speed countertop blender. Work in batches, and be careful to avoid steam burns.
Stir in the heavy cream. If you prefer, you can also use coconut cream or homemade cashew cream as a vegan alternative.
Serve immediately with a garnish of grated Pecorino or nutritional yeast.
Can I Use Whatever Vegetables I Have?
The simple answer is yes. You can use whatever vegetables you have in your refrigerator or pantry to make this soup.
Sometimes we just have a bunch of vegetables waiting patiently in the dark and cool corners of our homes, but no recipe to use them in. That’s when you should turn to this spicy and warming soup.
As long as you use roughly the same proportions of ingredients outlined above, you can make this delightfully delicious meal. There are so many seasonal vegetables that can be used with delicious results, and you should definitely take advantage of that. As long as you buy seasonally, you will be good to go.
Once you’ve got the hang of it, don’t be afraid to experiment with the spice pairings to truly make this recipe your own. Whether you’re reheating a bowlful and sipping it at your desk for a quick lunch, or pairing it with a crusty loaf of homemade sourdough and a crisp white wine for dinner, this basic cooking method won’t let you down, and the possible variations are endless.
What vegetables do you have lying around that you would like to use in this soup recipe? Tell us in the comments below, and be sure to come back to give the recipe a five-star rating if you loved it!
Wait! Don’t go! If you love blended soups, then you’ll appreciate these:
Photos by Meghan Yager, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on October 1, 2012. Last updated: October 24, 2018 at 5:50 am. With additional writing and editing by Meghan Yager and Allison Sidhu.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Shanna Mallon
Shanna holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her mantra? Restoring order and celebrating beauty through creative content, photography, and food. Shanna's work has been featured in Bon Appetit, The Kitchn, MSN.com, Everyday Health, Better Homes & Gardens, Houzz.com, Food News Journal, Food52, Zeit Magazine, Chew the World, Mom.me, Babble, Delish.com, Parade, Foodista, Entrepreneur and Ragan PR.