Soup's On: Two great recipes warm up winter
In case you haven't heard, January is National Soup Month. Which means
you are morally obligated to consume as much soup as possible in the
next few days. Don't worry though, I have some really tasty recipes to
help you do this.
Both of these soups are more or less recipes from Sarah Kramer's excellent La Dolce Vegan!. They are indeed meat and dairy-free. However, if you want to meat it up, feel free to use chicken stock or add pig's blood or something. Your call.
Let's start with the leek & potato soup. I know what some of you are thinking: "What's a leek? Oh my god, I am scared." Please do not be afraid. Using a leek in cooking is very similar to using an onion, though the nuances of the leek are a little more delicate on the palate. Think of the leek as the onion's more sophisticated cousin. Now, let's get started.
Curried Leek & Potato Soup: Here's what you're going to need
First, gather up your ingredients. You're going to need:
2 big leeks
A celery stalk
A carrot (I just bought a bag of baby carrots and chopped up the equivalent)
Garlic. 2 cloves if you are actually buying fresh garlic. I just use a hearty scoop from the jar.
A cube of veggie stock
Half a bushel of cilantro (or less, or none)
Garam Marsala, the recipe is at the bottom of this post
Start by chopping up your veggies. For the leek, cut off the roots, and the green portions and discard. Now, chop your leek the same way you would an onion. In a pot add some olive oil and the leeks and sauté until translucent, just like an onion.
Add your celery, garlic, and carrots. Stir things around for a couple minutes.
It's starting to get soup-like here
Add your veggie cube, two cups of water, cubed potatoes, a little salt, and a tsp of garam marsala. Bring everything to a boil. Lower your heat, cover and let things simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft.
Don't freak out
This next part is kind of scary, but we are going to work through it: Ladle about 1/3 of the soup into a food processor. Be very careful, boiling soup is hot like molten lava. Spin your mixture in the processor until smooth, then add back to your pot. Don't have a processor? Sometimes when I am lazy I just mash things around using a fork or a strainer spoon.
Stir in the cilantro. I know, this looks like a lot. But that's how I roll. Pictured here is a whole bushel, but you can add as little or much as you like.
And here's the final product. This is a thick and filling soup. It's creamy or watery like a lot of leek and potato soups, which makes it unique. You can also top this with bacon bits, sour cream, and/or cheese for a "baked potato" type of soup.
Soup, the Sequel: Curried Butternut Squash Soup
Round up your key players
The next soup is pretty similar to the leek and potato, only it's so easy to make it should be criminal. You're going to need:
2 cups of butternut squash (you can buy it whole, or be lazy like me and buy the already-chopped kind at Whole Foods)
A garlic clove, minced (or from the jar)
A good hunk of grated ginger (about a table spoon)
Garam marsala (see below)
A cube of veggie stock
Add your garlic, ginger, garam marsala (1/2 tsp), ¼ tsp of curry powder, and sauté some more, constantly stirring because that stuff is going to stick like mad.
Add the rest of your ingredients
Add your potatos, 2 cups of water, stock cube, and squash. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat. Again, let things simmer until the potatoes and squash are tender (about 20 minutes).
Yep. I'm going to blend again. Do about 1/3 od the soup, or just mash things up a bit with a fork.
Serve! I don't have a picture because I ate it all. But trust me, it's a big orange soup that will fill you stomach with goodness.
Spices: An aside
So, garam marsala. It's more or less the Cajun spice mix or Italian seasoning of the Indian cooking world. I don't know that I have ever seen it prepackaged in the stores, but I suspect you can find it. If not, why not make your own? You can keep it in a little Tupperware jar and have it available year round. There's a bunch of recipes for it out there, but here's what I normally do:
2 tablespoons of cumin, coriander, and black pepper
1 teaspoon or ground cardamom or cinnamon, and powdered ginger
A dash of allspice
Tada! Congratulations, you made your very own spice!