It was the last days. We were having guests Friday night. I usually make Chicken soup. One problem: I had used all the chicken and did not have any left to make a broth. I looked through various Pesach cookbooks and came upon a few recipes for vegetable soup made only with vegetables. Hmmm….looked really interesting. And a nice health boost after so much meat. So I took stock of the vegetables in my fridge and got to work. Carrots, onions, zucchini, garlic, and sweet potatoes for extra flavor.
Making this soup was a process that, believe it or not, I learned a lot from. I think it would be valuable to share this information so you can benefit from what I learned. First of all, there is obviously not any kind of meat used, so you don’t have that extra savory punch of a chicken, turkey or meat soup. Therefore, it’s extra important to use a combination of vegetables and spices that will impart a lot of flavor. I found that a mixture of sweet and savory really did the trick. Specifically, carrots, sweet potatoes (ok it’s not really a vegetable, but you know….), parsnips, turnips, rutabagas. Temper that with blander vegetables for health and bulk, like zucchini, yellow squash, green beans, corn (when it’s not Pesach for Ashkenazim!) and the like. Last, sharpness in the form of onions, garlic, hot peppers if you are daring. In terms of spices, I thought it would be interesting to give this soup a curry twist. I used curry and, actually, some dill. Seemingly strange partners, but the two spices worked very well together.
Here’s a very important element: cooking time. I made this soup in a slow cooker. It turned out to be ideal because the vegetables had plenty of time to soften and blend together with the spices. I let the soup simmer overnight on low. In the morning, I thought it tasted a little bland, so I let the mixture simmer for several more hours. This really did the trick. The result was a very a delicate, but very flavorful dish. Cooking the soup at a low temperature for a long, long time is what ultimately made the difference.
One last note: I wanted the soup to have some body to it; I did not want a simple puree. Since I couldn’t use the food processor, I mashed the vegetables by hand. Turns out, that method gave this dish its ideal consistency. There were plenty of well-smashed vegetables, but a good bit of larger chunks, too. When I make this soup in the future, I just may mash the vegetables by hand again. Or I will use an immersion blender.
Below I have outlined the recipe as I made it over the yom tove. Feel free, however, to use any combination of vegetables and spices that you like. Please let me know if you try making this by leaving a comment. Would love to know what your veggie and spice choices were, your process and how the soup turned out! Until then…..
Vegetarian Vegetable Soup
Yield: Approximately 8 1-cup servings
- 3 medium carrots
- 2 zucchinis
- 1 onion
- 3 large cloves garlic
- 1 sweet potato
- 1 tsp. curry seasoning
- Generous sprinkling of dill if using dried or a large handful if using fresh
- Salt and pepper to taste. Start with less and add more if you need it.
1. Peel carrots and cut into rounds. Cut zucchini into rounds, as well. Cut sweet potato into
quarters. Chop onions and garlic. Put in crock pot.
2. Add water until about an inch over covering the vegetables. Sprinkle in all seasonings.
3. Set crock pot on low. Let cook overnight. Check in the morning. If you want a more robust
flavor, let cook several more hours, probably 3-5.
4. When done, mash vegetables with a fork. It's best to mash some vegetables finer and leave
others in slightly larger chunks. This gives the soup a very nice texture.