When the weather is dark, stormy and grey, who doesn't want to just cozy up on the couch with a cup of soup?
Here are three soup recipes that cover whatever mood you're in. Butternut Squash for when you feel like a spicy fall purée; Pasta Fazool for a hearty dish packed with goodness; and Miso Soup for when you want something light and umami-flavoured.
1. Butternut Squash Soup
Christine McAvoyThis one is going to make your house smell heavenly when the squash is roasting in the oven. There's not much more you can do to make this soup any better, except maybe do yourself a favour and make a double batch so you can freeze some for one of the grey winter days ahead. This recipe is dairy- and gluten-free—and vegan if you skip the Parmesan.
- Olive oil
- Kosher salt
- Dried rosemary
- Sprinkle of cumin
- 1 large or 2 small butternut squash, halved and seeded
- 1 onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- 4 medium-sized carrots, chopped into rough cubes
- Fresh ginger, peeled and chopped, about a thumb-sized amount
- 1 to 2 cups vegetable stock (homemade is best, but low-sodium is good too)
- 1 can coconut milk
- 1 tbsp cumin
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Optional toppings: red pepper flakes, pumpkin seeds (pepitas), Parmesan
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Slice squash in half lengthwise and de-seed, then place on a lined baking sheet, face up, and drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with kosher salt, dried rosemary and cumin.
- Place in oven for about an hour, until the squash is nice and soft, especially through the thicker areas, then remove and let cool fully so you can peel off the skin.
- While squash is cooling, heat about a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pot, then sauté onions and garlic for a few minutes until the onions become translucent.
- Add the chopped carrots, ginger and 1 cup of stock and simmer until carrots are soft, approximately 15 minutes. Add a bit of salt and the tablespoon of cumin, stir, cover and simmer on low.
- Peel the skin off the squash with a spoon or scoop and add it to the carrot and onion mixture.
- Transfer to a blender and purée until smooth, adding extra vegetable stock if it is too thick (you can also use an immersion blender in the pot to purée).
- Transfer the soup back to the pot, pour in the coconut milk, stir and simmer for a few minutes until it is heated through.
- Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.
- Pour soup into bowls and top with optional red pepper flakes, pumpkin seeds, Parmesan and a sprinkle of fresh pepper.
2. Pasta Fazool
Christine McAvoyThis soup is also called pasta e fagioli, but saying pasta fazool is so much more fun. It is hearty, full of veggies and beans, and tiny, tiny pasta pieces. If you need a solid dinner after a hard day at work or a workout, then this is for you. It's super easy, especially if you can chop your veggies in a food processor, and I had almost all the ingredients in my house already.
There are a ton of different variations on this recipe. Add in some sausage for protein, toss in some leafy greens, or maybe change up the beans if you have something different on hand (chickpeas, for example). If you're vegan, skip the sausage or find some vegan sausage to toss in and sprinkle some nutritional yeast on top or vegan Parmesan, instead of regular Parmesan, which is the usual topping.
- 1 large can of crushed tomatoes, organic if available
- 1 can of white kidney beans
- 5-6 cups of veggie stock, homemade from the freezer is perfect for this
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 stalks of celery, finely chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 mild Italian sausages, optional
- Handful of kale or other leafy green, roughly chopped, optional
- 1 tbsp of olive oil
- 1 tsp of Italian seasoning
- Salt and pepper
- 1 cup of ditalini (short macaroni) pasta (macaroni is a good substitute if you can't find ditalini and brown rice or gluten-free are also good options)
- 1 tbsp of Parmesan, optional
- Fresh basil, chopped for topping, optional
- Finely chop the garlic, onion, carrots, and celery (I did it in a food processor to save time).
- Heat olive oil in large pot, then add chopped onion, garlic, celery, carrots and seasoning and stir.
- Cook for 15 to 25 minutes until softened and reduced in volume by at least half (the water will evaporate).
- If using sausage, remove from casing and add to the pot, breaking it up with a spoon and cooking until it is no longer pink. You may need to use a splash of stock after this to deglaze the pan.
- Add crushed tomato and 5 cups of stock and bring up to a boil, then simmer for 15 to 20 minutes (with a lid on) until it reduces slightly. If you want a thicker soup, you can cook it down some more. If it needs to be thinned out some more, add more stock.
- In a separate pot, boil some salted water, and then cook the pasta until just al dente. Drain and cool with cold water, then drain again.
- In the main pot, add kidney beans, salt and pepper, and stir, cooking for a few minutes until the beans are heated through.
- Two options here: you can stir the pasta directly into the pot if you’re going to be consuming it all within the next few days. If you are going to freeze some of the soup, do not add the pasta as when you reheat it, the pasta will expand and become soggy. Instead, cook fresh pasta the day you’re reheating it.
- Serve in bowls with additional pepper on top, optional Parmesan, nutritional yeast (or cashew Parmesan) and fresh basil.
NOTE: If using kale or other leafy greens, add them when you add the tomato and stock.
3. Miso Soup
Christine McAvoyIn many Japanese restaurants, the miso soup is about 95 percent broth with a few teeny-tiny bits of tofu, and maybe some seaweed if you’re lucky. Well, at home, you get to control how many extras go in when you make it from scratch, and it’s actually super easy.
The issue for me with most of the instant versions of miso soup is that they are full of MSG (monosodium glutamate), to which I'm allergic, so making it myself helps me control exactly what is going into the soup.
If you're not a purist (seaweed, tofu, green onions), you can load up your miso soup with other veggies. My next batch I might add mushrooms, but you can toss in lettuce, onions, clams, bean sprouts, carrots, eggplant, anything! Just make sure that you add anything that needs to cooked/softened before you boil the dashi (Japanese soup stock).
- 4 cups dashi (for vegan stock, follow this recipe)
- 3 tbsp brown miso
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced
- Silken or medium tofu, cubed, at least 1 cup, more if you'd like
- Wakame seaweed
- Make the dashi ahead of time (I made the vegetarian version with just the kelp, soaked in water overnight).
- Add 4 cups of dashi to a pot and bring to a boil, then simmer.
- Two options here: place miso in a small bowl and add a bit of the hot dashi, stirring to dissolve or add miso to the pot and whisk until dissolved. Make sure soup does not come to a boil.
- Add the tofu after the miso is broken down and heat through.
- In a pot or bowl, rehydrate the wakame seaweed (some packages have instructions) in lukewarm water for about 15 minutes. Then, drain and cut up into smaller pieces. Start with a small amount—you’ll be surprised at how much it grows.
- Place some of the seaweed in a serving bowl, and add approximately 1 cup of the miso soup with tofu. Top with green onions and you're ready to eat!
NOTE: The homemade dashi should last about a week in the fridge. If you double the dashi, you can freeze it for a quicker soup another day!
Makes 4 cups