The Secret to a Really Good Soup Every Time

I cook a lot of soup and lots of vegetable soup, in particular. Our wife is a gardener, and her CSA program has around 250 members. Every week, each member chooses one of a variety of items they receive in boxes. These are not just organic vegetables but what we in the agriculture world refer to as “value-added items.” We can add value to asparagus, for example, by making it into soup and sealing it in pint jars that two people can use. In any given week, I could cook soup to feed 500 people. That’s plenty of soup.

Get recipes for the Asparagus soup below.

I’ve needed to develop the soup’s recipe to attain a reliable consistency. This is a way to be precise while having the flexibility to adapt to what my wife has brought me during the week.

The formula is accessible in how recipes usually are but permits a wide range of variations. This is how it works:

  • Two tablespoons of fat
  • Half a pound of onions cut into slices
  • 1 pound of chopped vegetables, 1 pound
  • 3 cups liquid
  • Seasonings: spice, acid, sweet, salt, umami
  1. Cook.
  2. Puree.
  3. Season.
  4. Garnish.

The above amounts can serve up to 4-6 people and are infinitely multiplyable.

The fat adds taste and mouth-coating pleasure in addition to its primary purpose as a cooking medium. Olive oil and butter are two apparent options I use often. Other options include chicken schmaltz and rendered porcine fat. Add the fat of your choice to a pot, and to it, add the chopped onion.

The onion adds a beautiful sweetness that is perfect for the soup. The soup is pureed at the final stage, and the onion is cut in half, so you don’t need to go through the additional cutting step. It is possible to brown the onions; however, you don’t need to. The best thing to do is cook the raw taste out of them at the time they’re translucent.

Then add the chopped vegetables. You could add asparagus, peas, escarole, or fennel in spring. As summer approaches, it’s peppers, zucchini, or eggplant. Autumn brings winter squash beets and potatoes. It isn’t a problem. Everything can be used. Make sure it’s cut and peeled based on the vegetable.

Learn recipes for Cream of Fennel Soup below.

In comes the liquid. The water works great. Stock is even better. (Why not create flavor on every occasion?) If, as I do, you make your ricotta from scratch, the leftover whey is a great option. Milk is also a great option. Add two teaspoons of salt alongside the liquid and bring the mixture to an unbeatable boil. Cover the pot, and simmer until vegetables become soft. Based on the thickness you slice them and the vegetables you select, this could take between 8 and 15 minutes.

So far, it’s been straightforward. Follow the recipe. The next step is the most delicate of seasoning. In cooking, most of the time, when we speak of seasoning, we refer to salting. It could be salting or peppering. It’s much more than the above. It’s about ensuring a balance between salt, sweetness, acid, umami, and sometimes bitter. Every variation of vegetable, fat, and liquid demands an individual seasoning. The seasoning is what determines the cook. It is a comprehensive imagining of the food. Taste the soup. Does it appear adequate in brightness? If not, you can add acid. That could be vinegar, lemon juice, or even vinegar. Pickle brine? Do the same exercise to make salt bitter, sweet, and umami. Look through your pantry for Parmesan, maple syrup, chile flakes, fish, cumin, soy sauce, coriander, and pepper. Each seasoning can take this soup in a new and wonderful direction.

In the end, blend all ingredients using the machine until smooth. Also, find an appropriate garnish. It could be chopped fresh herbs or made of breadcrumbs that have been fried. It can be as simple as a spoonful of crème fraiche or a swath of cream. Whatever you choose, ensure that it adds an element of distinct contrast with the texture and taste of the soup.

It’s pretty easy. It doesn’t need to be complicated. It’s just crucial to be precise about it. Make sure you stick to the recipe and pay attention to the seasoning, and you’ll get a winning vegetable soup each time.


  • Two tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Half a pound of onions cut into slices
  • One teaspoon salt Plus more salt to taste
  • 1 pound of carrots, chopped and peeled
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • One tablespoon of ground coriander
  • Ground cumin one tablespoon
  • One teaspoon of white vinegar. One teaspoon of white vinegar.


  1. In an oven-proof medium saucepan over moderate temperature. Add onion and one tablespoon of salt. Cook, stirring often, until onions become translucent and begin showing some color, around 6 minutes.
  2. Add the carrots along with coriander, vegetable broth, and cumin. Turn the heat up to high, and bring it to the point of boiling. Reduce heat to low, and cook until the carrots are tender, around 10 minutes.
  3. Transfer soup into an immersion blender and blend until smooth, approximately 1 minute. Mix in vinegar and sprinkle with salt as necessary.


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