Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas Tree Soup

The only thing I love more than participating in a holiday tradition is creating a new one - whether intentionally, or completely by accident. Last night was probably one of the best "accidental tradition creations" I've ever had!

While my mother-in-law and husband were out looking for a Christmas tree (in lovely Seattle-rain fashion), I dove head-first into my first pureed soup, with all the vegetables coming from our weekly farm share! It was a little daunting, I admit, when I was trying to figure out what I wanted the main flavor to be; Did I want to go exotic? Spicy? Ginger-y? Sweet? Did I want to do as my father-in-law not-so-subtly hinted at and add meat and, if so, what kind? What do I serve with it? Should I leave any texture to the soup and, if so, how much and with what? Will the food processor do a good enough job, or will this come out looking like semi-solid baby food?

As it turns out, I needn't have worried. The mix of vegetables in and of themselves were amazing, and lent a lot of flavor to the soup just by roasting them... and the vegetable stock and wine that I used were perfect. *sigh*

So, here's the final recipe that I came up with while my husband showed our almost two year old son what struggling with Christmas trees looks like:

1 acorn squash
6 medium carrots, peeled
1 large turnip, peeled
1 medium beet, peeled
1 small head of garlic, peeled
Canola oil
Salt and pepper
2 Tbs butter
1 large yellow onion
2 Tbs salt
2 tsp dried ginger
1 Tbs dried sage
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp nutmeg
pinch of red pepper flake
1 tsp chipotle hot sauce
1/2 cup red wine
3 cups of vegetable stock
2 red potatoes, peeled
1/2 cup of heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 415 degrees
Chop the squash, carrots, turnips and beet into roughly the same size chunks, and place on a cookie sheet along with the peeled garlic (leaving the cloves whole).
Drizzle with the Canola oil, and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper.
Roast in the oven for 10 minutes (if you have a "speed back" option, 15 - 20 if you don't).
Meanwhile, finely chop the onion and saute in the butter on medium high in a medium, heavy-bottomed soup pot, adding the spices once the onion has begun to soften.
Take the vegetables out of the oven, and turn them over for even roasting.
Turn the heat on the spiced onions down to medium-low, and sweat for 5 minutes.
Add the wine and chicken stock to the onions, stirring quickly to get the browned bits off the bottom of the pot.
Chop the potatoes into roughly 1'' pieces, and add to the pot, increasing the heat to high. Boil for 5 - 10 minutes, or until mostly tender.
Remove the vegetables from the oven, and place in the food processor and pulse until they all are mixed together fairly well, then add the potatoes and some of the onions from the pot. (It's okay if some of the liquid from the pot gets in to the vegetables.) Pulse together well, until a fairly smooth texture is achieved; you may need to scrape the sides of the processor bowl on occasion.
Carefully add the pureed vegetables to the liquid in the pot, and stir to combine with the liquid.
Once combined, add the heavy cream and taste for seasoning.
Serve while hot!

Serving Suggestions
I made cornbread muffins, which were excellent alongside this soup. You could really serve any kind of bread, although sourdough might be a bit heavy.