During the winter months when fresh salads can feel off-season, many of us turn to homemade soups to get nutritious veggies into our bodies. Soup is the perfect winter meal — it’s nice and hot, easy to make, and if you serve it with fresh baked bread you can usually stretch a pot of soup into at least a couple of meals.
There are many online articles that provide very basic instructions on how to make a pureed winter vegetable soup — basically you simmer a pot of chicken or vegetable broth with chopped vegetable and sautéed onions and then whizz it up with an immersion blender — but if you’re not careful, those ultra-simple soups can have all the flavour of baby food. Here are three ways to add a little flavour to your winter vegetable soups:
Curry it up
Curry flavours work wonderfully with root vegetables — many soup recipes pair curry with butternut squash, but it also works with cauliflower, carrots, sweet potato and many other soup-worthy vegetables. Curry powder works (or you can use your own personal blend of typical curry spices like ginger, turmeric, cumin, cardamom and coriander), but I’m also a big fan of commercial curry pastes. Scoop in a tablespoon or so when you’re sautéing your onion and garlic to add distinctive flavour to your soup. Coconut milk also pairs well with curry if you want to give your soup a hit of dairy-free creaminess.
I tend to avoid spicy heat because my kids don’t like it, but if your kids aren’t afraid of spiciness or you don’t have children in the house, a little bit of hot sauce can go a long way. Experiment with different styles of sauce — a Buffalo-style sauce has a totally different flavour than sriracha, for example. This is also a good time to explore the international food aisle in the store: products like sambal oelek (a chili paste that is similar to sriracha) or chipotle peppers in adobo can add a new level of heat and flavour to an otherwise boring soup.
If you’re looking for a more subtle blend to add to your soup, pesto is packed with flavour and easy to add in. There are a lot of pesto options in the pasta sauce aisle (try a sundried tomato pesto if you’re not a fan of basil) and it’s also easy to whip up a pesto blend that suits your personal tastes. Again, scoop in a couple of tablespoons as you’re sautéing the onions or simply dollop it on top of the bowls as a garnish and swirl it in as you’re eating your soup.