By Saiba Haque, Food Deputy Editor, 3rd Year Politics and Philosophy
The Croft Magazine// As the weather gets chillier, the days get shorter, and our deadlines loom closer, we may yearn for a cosy and warm bowl of “something,” cooking is the last thing that we may want to put effort into, even if there are plethora of comforting and effortless dishes that may come to mind. When I think of the chilly weather, I immediately think of soup. Specifically, soup made from roasting and/or charring vegetables.
Sure, the tinned soups are all right but I’m here to show you that we can make soups that taste far better than the canned stuff, without writing-off an entire afternoon. I hope they can add a share of seasonal vegetables to your life that might otherwise be lacking from a deadline-heavy November.
I strongly believe in utilising seasonal ingredients in my kitchen to make the most flavoursome version of a dish. This roasted vegetable soup can do exactly that, with very little effort. The vegetables can be interchangeable depending on what you may need to use up in your fridge or what vegetable is most in season. In-season produce not only enhances the flavour of the dish, but also provides a more nutritious outcome from the meal, whilst also being cost-efficient. The hands-off approach also ensures amazing caramelisation (Mailliard effect) of vegetables without having to slave over a stove-top and sauté for hours.
“But Saiba!... I really don’t have the time to do anything in the kitchen!” you say. On that note, I’m glad to let you know that this dish is as lazy as you can get, barely involving any work. The gist, you chuck in your vegetables of choice into a baking dish or tray, leave it to roast and kinda forget about it for a bit. While the veggies are developing flavours in the oven, you’re free to work on those deadlines; making this culinary endeavour not only lazy, but efficiently easy to fit a busy academic schedule.
Without further ado, here’s a recipe for roasted tomato soup that I like to use when tomatoes are in season. I use this as a blueprint recipe, in a sense that it’s pretty much fool-proof. Hence, when tomatoes are out of season, I just swap them out for other seasonal vegetables and use my intuition to pair them with complementary seasonings, which I also explain further on:
Ingredients (Serves 3-4):
2-3 medium onions
1 whole bulb of garlic
3-4 sprigs of thyme
2-3 sprigs of rosemary
1-2 tsp Dried chilli flakes
2 tsp Oregano
Generous amounts of Salt (kosher/flaky) and Pepper.
1/4 cup Olive Oil (but can put in more if needed)
240ml Stock/broth (can be the cube ones too!)
1. Most of your chopping will be rough, no mincing is involved. If your veg is small, enough (like shallots or cherry tomatoes) you may not even need to chop them. Chop the larger tomatoes and onions in quarters and the smaller tomatoes (on and off the vines) can stay as they are. Chop the head off a whole bulb of garlic and put it head side down on the tray.
2. Put all the other vegetables in the same baking tray. Add in the thyme and rosemary or any other herbs of choice. Pour the olive oil over the veggies (don’t skimp out too much, we want it to a partial ‘confit’ technique). Add in the salt, pepper, oregano, and chilli flakes to the dish.
3. In a preheated oven of 190’C, roast the dish for about 45 minutes to an hour on the middle shelf. The veggies should be charred.
4. Throw away the vines and the stems of the herbs and add in all the veggies, oil and juice from the tray to a high-powered blender (or use a hand blender) and blend until smooth.
5. The mixture should be very thick after this, you can stop here if you want, but I like to add it back to a saucepan or pot and add some chicken/beef or veg stock to loosen it slightly. This also adds extra flavour, I used de-frosted chicken broth that I had frozen previously, but when in a pinch, water and stock cube can also be used. Simmer for about 5-10 min. I served mine with a heavily toasted grilled ham and cheese sandwich. But croutons or garlic bread or toasted sourdough bread with butter also goes remarkably well with this soup.
When to choosing other vegetables, almost anything goes! Some other vegetables I use with the same general guidance of this recipe include squash, carrots, pumpkins, sweet potatoes and parsnips. What I love about this recipe is that the ingredients can be changed up depending on what’s in season, or what’s available. The varieties are pretty much endless. For instance, here's an intuitive run-down of my roasted squash soup:
I would put in shallots instead of onions, a whole bulb of garlic and generous amounts of salt and pepper along with the squash in my tray as I think those flavours will go well with the mellow sweetness of squash. After it’s done roasting and blending, I add the mixture to a saucepan and add in gochugaru (dried chilli flakes), cumin and turmeric along with more salt to taste, as these flavours go well together and bring in more warmth to the dish. If you’re feeling fancy, top it off with some thinly sliced basil leaves and crispy bacon bits or pancetta. Your desired toppings can certainly elevate the dish but is not an overbearing necessity to make a great roasted soup!
This soup can also be made ahead, frozen, and then defrosted and reheated for later, should you crave it on an extra lazy day in the future.
So, go ahead and use up those vegetables in your fridge and pantry! The dish is effortless, hands-off, and perfect for this season; a lazy and efficient way to elevate a student staple!
Featured image: Saiba Haque
What's your favourite soup to eat during autumn?