In mid-December, we traveled to Chicago to visit my favorite neighborhood bakery anywhere: Baker & Nosh in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood. It just so happens that it’s owned by my brother, Bill.
In addition to fantastic breads, Bill and his crew turn out amazing food for breakfast and lunch: savory morning pastries (Bill’s ham and cheese croissant, made entirely by hand, is Ri. Dic. U. Lous.), fantastic sandwiches on housemade ciabatta, wonderful from-scratch soups and sweet nibbles.
When Rob and I arrived around lunchtime, we were ravenous. We ordered sandwiches and split a bowl of Bill’s soup of the day—which I promptly inhaled. The soup was a simple puree of roasted winter vegetables the bakery had scored from the farm that uses the shop as a delivery point for its CSA shares. It was thick and rich—without even the slightest bit of cream—and perfect for a cold day.
I figured I could hack a recipe for winter vegetable soup that would approximate what we enjoyed in Bill’s kitchen. I snagged a squash and some root vegetables from Findlay Market and grabbed a few garlic cloves from the bulbs I grew last summer and have stored in the basement. A dribble of olive oil, some seasonings, and an hour of quality time in a not-too-hot oven transformed the vegetables into soft, sweet cubes of deliciousness, just begging to be turned into soup.
You could make this simple low-fat roasted vegetable soup recipe with any vegetables you’d like: turnips, celery root, sunchokes, onions or any manner of winter squash. (You’ll want to begin with about 8 cups of diced vegetables.) The technique’s the same regardless of your ingredients: Roast, simmer, puree.
Top this delicious and comforting soup with some croutons made from crusty bread, a dollop of Greek yogurt or a drizzle of herb-infused olive oil.
roasted winter vegetable soup recipe
2 carrots, washed and cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 medium potato, washed and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 leek, washed and cut into 1/2-inch dice
4 or 5 garlic cloves, unpeeled
2 Tbsp. olive oil
4 cups vegetable broth (I like Swanson's organic vegetable broth or Rapunzel's vegan vegetable bouillon cubes)
kosher salt and ground white pepper
Preheat oven to 375 degrees; line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. In a bowl, toss the carrots and parsnips with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and a generous pinch of salt. Arrange the vegetables on the prepared baking sheet. Roast for 15 minutes. In the same bowl, toss the squash, potato, leek and garlic cloves with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and a generous pinch of salt; add them to the roasting pan. Continue roasting until the vegetables are tender and lightly browned, about 45 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and let the veggies cool a bit; peel the garlic. Transfer the roasted vegetables to a large stock pot and add 3 cups of broth. Bring the liquid to a boil; reduce the heat, cover and simmer until the vegetables are falling apart, about 20 minutes. Let the mixture cool. Use an immersion blender or a countertop blender to puree the soup to the consistency you like. For a very smooth soup, pass the mixture through a sieve. Add the remaining 1 cup of vegetable broth. Season to taste with salt and white pepper (I like the earthiness of white pepper in this vegetable soup recipe; alternately, you could use black pepper). Return the soup to the pot, bring to a simmer and serve.