Vegetarian Soups for Winter and Spring

Late last month in Prospect Park, I passed a patch of purple saffron that almost glowed in the sun. March temperatures may drop below freezing and snow may blanket the ground, but nothing can stop long days from pulling young shoots from the soil and people’s moods from the gloom. of winter. Snow can fall as much as you like, but when the ice melts those saffron plants stay fresh and upbeat.

At this time of year, I like to enjoy lighter, more buoyant broths filled with the freshest produce of the season – and some meat, if any. The key to getting the most intense, rich flavor in any soup is creating complexity at every step. These do just that, as well as using the right techniques to bring out the best vegetables for the final crop of winter.

For example, roasting plant roots before adding them to soups is a classic way to release their flavor. A time in a hot oven will caramelize their sugars and concentrate their essence so they have an even more distinctive flavor. The sweet potatoes and carrots, in particular, emerged from the oven brown at the edges and sticky with their own syrupy juices.

The added sweetness is a perfect counterpoint to the pungent mix of red curry powder, ginger and garlic in my coconut curry sweet potato soup recipe. It takes a while for the diced vegetables to turn golden, but that gives you plenty of opportunity to saute the shallots and other flavorings that will form the base of the broth.

Another key ingredient is coconut milk, which gives the whole dish a wonderful aroma and softness, while bringing out the sweetness of the roasted roots. Then, for a crunch, grab some rich, fresh toasted coconut (the big one, not the shredded one) and float it on top as soon as it’s finished.

On the other hand, lean and succulent vegetables like green cabbage, require a different approach, such as adding more Parmesan. You can use Parmesan in two ways: A rind is simmered with broth to give it a nice and rich umami taste, then sprinkle grated cheese on top when it’s finished, add salt and a little cream as you stir. it in.

There is also a small amount of rice in the broth to thicken the broth slightly. It’s not enough to get it into porridge territory, but it does give the broth a bit of a thick and fatty taste.

Although borscht can refer to a variety of soups from Eastern Europe, Ukraine, and Russia, the ones Americans are most familiar with are made with dark red beets that bring the broth to life – almost terrifyingly – fuchsias.

Not this. Instead, I opted for the underrated yellow radish, which has an almost carrot-like flavor that’s less sweet than their crimson cousins. Mixed with cumin and coriander seeds, garnished with sour cream for richness and aroma, it’s a mellow soup that keeps you gently warm inside and out.

These soups are light, but with plenty of vegetables, they still make for a satisfying dinner, which can be rounded off with crispy bread and delicious olives, or some cheese or salami.

And if you have leftovers, you can store these winter soups in the freezer. Like saffron after a spring snowstorm, they won’t be worse to wear and are just as vibrant in your bowl.


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