And so my first week of work has begun. I’ve jumped in with both feet, welcoming the adult interaction and the intellectual stimulation. I’ve already got projects to work on and I’m being challenged beyond what I thought I’d be. It’s nice.
At home, we’re busy decorating and planning. The tree has been lit and decorated and the lights have been strung about the outside of the house. The children are all atwitter with the anticipation of Santa’s arrival, and the ornaments dangling from the fragile branches of the tree are almost too much for the youngest to resist. He’s just so curious and excited all of the time, eager to touch and explore everything.
We’re talking about the meaning of Christmas. We have a small wooden nativity that the children are allowed to touch and manipulate. We talk about the different members in the scene, and my oldest takes care to gather all of them around the tiny baby in the manger. He wants them all arranged just so – in a tight circle, gazing down at the swaddled infant. He’s very particular, and gets quite agitated when his brother decides that the various figures need to be scattered about the house. I spend a good amount of time fishing them out from under the sofa and from between the cushions. At least they’re interacting with them and curious about them – right? It gives us ample opportunities to share the Christmas story.
Amidst the joy and the lights, and the work obligations, I’ve been a little bit remiss in my cooking duties. Luckily, my work schedule is only part-time, so I do still have some time available during the week to focus on food.
As I sat home on Tuesday, thinking about dinner and dreading the inevitable battle of wills that has become the standard with my two-year-old at the dinner table, I decided soup would be my best bet. It has been unseasonably warm over the last few days, but the dreary, rainy weather welcomed the idea of warm, nourishing soup. I’d been to lunch with a friend over the weekend (she’s hilarious, and she writes about food – of course we’re friends) and we’d both ordered soup and salad. I chose a wild mushroom number and she went with an onion soup. Both soups were cream based (much to my friend’s surprise), and they were both hearty and flavorful. I really wanted to replicate that same rich creamy texture and deep flavor at home.
This isn’t really a recipe per-se. It’s more of a bunch of stuff I had in the fridge that I threw together on a whim. Sometimes, those are the best meals, though – for some reason the stars align and the seas part and you’re left with a perfectly satisfying meal that took very little effort and actually helped you clean out the fridge a little bit. This is one of those meals. I imagine you could use just about any vegetable here – just roast the heck out of it, and then whir it up with some broth and half-and-half. I’m trying to think of a vegetable that wouldn’t work here, and I’m drawing a blank.
In this case, I had a pound of mushrooms in the crisper, along with about two cups of broccoli florets and a bunch of asparagus that our neighbors gave us before they left for a cruise (lucky ducks!). I decided to roast them all at 400F until they got good and brown and toasty. I just tossed them with some olive oil and salt and pepper and spread them out on a parchment-paper-lined baking sheet. They roasted for about 35 minutes.
While that was going on, I caramelized a thinly sliced onion in some butter in an enameled stock pot on the stove. Once they were nice and golden brown and sweet and buttery-delicious, I added about 1 1/2 quarts of turkey stock (because I had some left over from Thanksgiving. You could also use vegetable broth or chicken stock). To this I added the roasted veggies, and I pureed it all using my stick blender. I topped it all off with about a cup of half-and-half, and added half a cup of parmesan cheese. Then I tasted it for seasoning and added salt and pepper.
I loved this soup. And what’s better, my kids actually liked it. No complaining, no moaning and groaning about how many more bites they had to take before they could be done. Just quietly eating and cleaning their plates. Broccoli and asparagus soup. Who’d have thought? It’s not the prettiest thing I’ve ever made, but it sure did taste good. And I guess, at the end of the day, that’s what really matters.
While it’s not really a recipe, here’s my estimation of the amounts I used and how long it took:
Creamy Roasted Vegetable Soup
prep time: 5 minutes
cook time: 45 minutes
- 1 lb mushrooms
- 2 cups broccoli florets
- 1 lb. asparagus, woody ends trimmed
- 2 Tbs. olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 Tbs. butter
- 1 yellow onion, sliced
- 1 1/2 quarts stock
- 1 cup half and half
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
I think this one might become part of our regular repertoire. What are some of your favorite autumn and winter soups?