Are you dreading the start of your New Year’s Resolution Diet? The biggest deterrent to a successful diet is failure to plan ahead. We all get snack attacks and they’re not always emotional. They can represent real hunger. The key to success is to have immediate access to food that is both healthy and filling so it provides both satisfaction and energy. To me, that’s a batch of homemade soup that is surprisingly easy and inexpensive to make. Just freeze it in individual portions so it’s always there for you! Here’s a basic recipe for a fabulous vegetable soup and a video to show you how easy it is to make:
2 pounds root vegetables, peeled and chopped
1 medium yellow onion, 2 carrots, 2 stalks celery – all peeled and chopped into random pieces
Approximately 2 quarts liquid, Spices
…And here’s how I would interpret that, using squash:
Make several slashes in the top of a large Butternut squash (so it won’t burst) and roast it in a baking pan (no oil) for an hour. (This intensifies the flavor and makes it easier to peel.) Cool just enough to handle; then peel and cut into random pieces. (If you prefer, you can skip this step. Just peel and chop the raw squash and proceed to step two.)
- In a large pot (taller than it is wide so the liquid won’t boil away too quickly), soften the onion over low heat. When the juices start to release, you can turn the heat up to medium and add the carrot and celery pieces. Cook until they start to brown. (If you do this carefully, you don’t need to use any oil.)
- Add the squash and enough chicken stock to barely cover the vegetables. (If you do this, it will never be too thick and you don’t have to add any starch (calories!) to thicken it. You can also vary the liquid. I like to add a little fruity white wine and/or a cup of orange juice for fruit acid and flavor and then add chicken or vegetable stock just to cover.)
- Bring to a boil. Then turn it down and let it simmer over low heat for 45 mins or more – until the vegetables are all really soft. Purée the mixture. I think thick soup is satisfying, so I leave it thick, but you may want to thin it, so use more of a liquid you have already used (stock or orange juice). You will be surprised at how flavorful this soup is. You do not need cream for it to be delicious!
- The last step is to add the spices. The two things that spike up flavor the most are salt and fruit acid. If you used juice or wine above, that’s the fruit acid. If not, add the juice of one fresh lemon with your salt and pepper. (I would use white pepper in this light colored dish.) Last, I add a couple of teaspoons of Tabasco or other hot sauce. It won’t make it hot, but will considerably “brighten” it and make it more satisfying – which is the whole point! Always TASTE and add more spice if necessary.
- COOL your soup quickly in an ice bath. Keep up to a week in the refrigerator or freeze in airtight individual containers for up to 3 months so it’s always available.
GOOD LUCK AND ENJOY!