Cream of asparagus. Cauliflower cream. Cream of broccoli. Cream of sponge. Cream of celery. Creamy potato. Cheesy broccoli. Tomato basil. Tomato cream.
A pot of soup simmers and steams and chases the cold of winter with its soothing aroma. Homemade vegetable cream soups shine with the flavor of your chosen veggie. They are a good winter source of vegetables, protein and calcium. Satisfying and nutritious, warm, creamy soup is the ultimate comfort food on a cold winter day. You do not even have to chew it.
While pureed soups were known as far back as the Middle Ages (we know this from medieval cookbooks, “Le Viandier” and “Le Menagier de Paris”), they became popular in French cuisine during the 19th century. Their rich, buttery taste and velvety texture were appealing in this era with new, chic foods and luxurious dishes. In this country, Virginia House-Wife by Mary Randolph (1824) included recipes for creamy soups and tips for folding flour and butter in to thicken the soup.
In the 20th century, creamy soups became popular by Campbell’s. In 1897, Dr. Dorrance condensed soup. Reducing the costs of packaging, shipping and storage meant that the finished product cost only one penny per. ounce. In the early twentieth century, more than 20 varieties of canned condensed soup were marketed. Jinglen “M’m! Good! M’m! Good!” helped sell the product to busy housewives. Celery cream came on the market in 1913; cream of mushrooms in 1934; cream of broccoli in 1990. To further sell its soups, Campbell published recipes that used the soups in sauces and stews, such as Campbell’s 2-step chicken broccoli divan.
Canned soups have some unwanted ingredients, such as the MSG flavor enhancer, preservatives and artificial flavors. The thick cream sauce is prominent, while the vegetables are secondary. Filled with butter, cream and cheddar cheese, they are high in fat and pack on the calories. For example, a bowl of broccoli cheese soup at Panera Bread is 350 calories and 23 grams of fat; 300 calories and 25 g. Of fat on TGI Fridays; 470 calories and 33 grams of fat at Einstein Bros.
This is why, in our largely overweight American society, cream soups have lost popularity with calorie-conscious consumers. But that does not have to be the case. Homemade vegetable soups can benefit from the vegetables in your freezer from the fall harvest – and can make these vegetables the star of the show. To cut calories and fat, replace the cream with milk and broth; butter and cream should have only minor roles.
In general, flour is used to bind the cooked, mashed vegetables together, and the soup is enriched with cream and sometimes eggs or cheese. For a gluten-free version, use boiled potatoes or potato starch as a binder. Other starchy vegetables, such as parsnips or turnips, can also be used as a thickener and are a healthy substitute for flour-butter paste.
Slowly saute the ingredients in a rich broth until they are completely cooked, then puree them – a stick blender makes this part easy. To make the soup rich and creamy, add a bechamel sauce (but this will add calories). Add a sharp cheese for more flavor. Garnish with fresh herbs such as dill, parsley or thyme and spicy croutons when serving.
To replace canned condensed soup in a casserole dish, make a thick bechamel sauce with 3 tablespoons flour, a tablespoon of olive oil, a tablespoon of butter and only 1 1/3 cup of liquid (broth, milk or combination). Season the sauce with 1 cup of cooked (fried) mushrooms, celery or broccoli.
Use your imagination. The main ingredients are a vegetable of your choice, broth and milk or cream. Vary the taste and texture by adding herbs, spices and flavors such as onions, garlic, mushrooms, etc. Add chicken or turkey for extra protein.
Delicious and comforting, creamy vegetable soups will be a hit no matter how you make them.
German creamy Potato soup ham and potato soup
Customize this recipe for what you have available and your own dietary needs. To make it vegan, use milk-free milk and vegetable broth. For a meaty version, ham or German sausage can be added at the end. You can even make it into a chunky stew instead of a creamy soup.
1 or 2 slices of bacon
2 liters of broth (vegetable, chicken, beef or pork)
1 cup diced celery or 2 stalks of celery
1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley or chopped fresh dill
1 teaspoon paprika
1 or 2 cups cooked diced ham, optional
Peel and cut the onion into cubes; scrub or peel and cut the potatoes into cubes.
At the bottom of the soup kettle, cook the bacon for 5 minutes so that it becomes crispy and becomes fat. Remove to drain on paper towel. Add the chopped onion to the bacon drops; cook 5 minutes. Stir in diced potatoes; cook 5 more minutes. Add broth (purchased or homemade) and the remaining vegetables; cook for 30 minutes until the vegetables are soft.
For a creamy soup, use a stick blender (or get everything through the blender, in portions). Blend all the way to a creamy soup; or blend only half for a thicker version.
Taste and adjust spices; garnish with parsley, add ham or a little yogurt.
Option: For a vegan soup, omit bacon and ham; boil onions in olive oil.
Another option: For a hearty green potato soup, add a few cups of chopped kale, collards, chard, spinach, peas, broccoli or green asparagus; cook until tender.
Adjust the amount of broth for a thicker or thinner soup.
Experiment with other herbs, such as marjoram, rosemary or sage. Cayenne or cumin can add a little heat if you like.
Cream of asparagus, cauliflower or broccoli soup
2 cups broth
About 4 cups of frozen cauliflower or broccoli bouquets or 1 pound bunch of asparagus
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk (skimmed if you are on a diet or one and a half if you like it rich)
1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese, optional
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 small carrot, grated
In a saucepan, bring broth and cut vegetables. Let it simmer until it is soft and tender. Remove vegetables and puree in food processor or blender if desired.
Melted butter; add flour and stir until mixed; add milk while stirring until thickened. Add broth from soup, pureed vegetables and parmesan; simmer while stirring, to combine. Bring to a boil and cook for only a few minutes to mix flavors. Garnish with parsley and grated raw carrots. Serve hot.
Option: For a milk-free milk, use cashew cream, oat cream, soy cream or canned coconut milk.
Other options: For cream asparagus soup you can use green asparagus, potatoes, onions, fresh basil, parmesan cheese, olive oil, butter, fondant, white pepper, salt, nutmeg, garlic. For creamy cauliflower soup you can use cauliflower, potatoes, onions, butter, fondant, milk, cream, nutmeg, salt, parsley, blue cheese.
Author of the award-winning cookbook “Garden Gourmet: Fresh and Amazing Meals from Your Garden, CSA or Farmers’ Market,” Yvona Fast lives in Lake Clear and has two passions: cooking and writing. She can be found at www.yvonafast.com and can be reached at email@example.com or on Facebook at Words Are My World.