This weekend is supposed to be the coldest yet this winter. And I believe it. The sound of wind outside is enough to make me want to curl up with a warm bowl of comfort food. Instead of making a hearty, beefy meal, I decided to go with this equally comforting, but not quite so heavy, soup. I also wanted a reason to use my new immersion blender that my sister gave me for Christmas. (I got the best food gifts from my sisters this year!) So decision made - pureed veggie soup it is! I love when inspiration comes in twos!
I got the basic recipe for this soup from a Food Network magazine from May 2015. I've been keeping this issue on my cookbook shelf because it has a big spread on cupcakes, which I refer to often. But it also has this great "Mix & Match Vegetable Soup" recipe. It lets you pick a color and then gives lots of options of vegetables in each color category and seasonings that you can add. It's really just a guide that you can customize however you want, and I took a few extra liberties this time around too. For the color, I went with "orange" this weekend because I love butternut squash and sweet potatoes at this time of year.
Now I have a confession to make, I went the easy route and bought the pre-peeled and chopped butternut squash. My mother will probably disown me. She doesn't believe in paying for something that can be done yourself. But I didn't need a whole squash (first excuse), and the last time I peeled a squash myself, I peeled off a piece of my own skin with the squash's. So I splurged and bought the pre-prepped package. It was worth it. (But I won't try to convince my mom of that.)
One of the liberties I took with this recipe guide was to roast the veggies instead of just cooking them in the liquid. I think that this cooking method adds some extra flavor as the vegetables caramelize a bit in the oven. However, I think I missed an important part of this soup recipe by roasting the white potatoes instead of cooking them in the pot. The soup was still delicious but it wasn't quite as thick as I remember my last version being. I'm thinking it is because I didn't develop the starch from the white potatoes in the pot, and the starch is probably important in thickening the soup. So in the recipe below, I'm recommending that you cook the potatoes, onions, and garlic in the pot instead of roasting them like I did today. However, I still like the idea of roasting the squash and sweet potatoes with the thyme, so I'm including that step in the recipe.
I also added a touch of smoked paprika at the end. I like the extra flavor it gave to the soup! This was another last minute inspiration and not part of the original recipe guide, so feel free to skip it if you don't have that ingredient or like the flavor of the soup without it. Soup is great for tasting as you go and it's easy to add more seasoning at any point. Let me know if you try any other seasoning combinations that you like!