Guest post by Dinova's director of strategic accounts, Janice McEachen.

It’s pumpkin carving, apple picking, leaf raking, soup eating time here in New England. As we turn to warm and hearty comfort foods in colder weather, soup tops my list for an easy appetizer or dinner. A wonderful pot of soup can be made from just a few humble ingredients. Starting with a good broth is important. I usually have some home made on hand in my freezer but if not, I go for the Swanson’s Organic Chicken Stock. The New York Times wrote about a simple soup recipe this week and certainly sounds like it would be flavorful. For more flavor, I would definitely use chicken or vegetable stock instead of water. There are thousands of soup recipes out there but if you’re feeling creative here are a few tips for easy pureed vegetable soups.

1.      Start with some basic aromatics (remember mirepoix?) usually one-part carrot, one-part celery and two parts onion. Sweat them in a little olive oil. Sweat, is a key term here, you don’t want to brown the onions when making a soup that is light in color; you don’t want your soup to have a burnt flavor. 

2.      If you are adding any spices now is a good time, maybe some curry or smoked paprika would be a good twist. 

3.      Once the aroma from the spice reaches your nose it’s time to add in your star ingredient. Rough chunks are fine but try to keep them in somewhat uniform size so they cook evenly. Pick a great ingredient, maybe carrots, cauliflower, broccoli or even a bag of frozen peas. If your vegetable of choice is butternut squash, simply half and seed it then throw it in. You can scrape the flesh from the rind after it’s cooked and before pureeing. It’s a lot easier than peeling when it’s hard as a rock! 

4.      A peeled and cored apple will add a little sweetness to squash or pumpkin soups. 

5.      A slice or two of day old bread added to the pot will act as a thickener. 

6.      Add broth to cover the veggies and perhaps some herbs like a bay leaf and a couple of thyme sprigs. Let this simmer until the veggies are tender. 

7.      Next simply pull the bay leaf and any woody stemmed herbs out and then puree. I have an immersion blender, but you use a regular blender be careful. I think we’ve all heard stories about hot soup exploding in the blender! 

Once the soup is back in the pot taste it for salt and pepper additions. A little cream at the end will give it a nice flavor and texture, but be sure not to let it come to a boil. If you prefer the deeper flavor of roasted vegetables go ahead and roast the veggies, then add them to the pot. Truly there are no rules here and 100 ways to switch this up. Be creative and let me know what you come up with!

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