How-To & Diy

How to Make Any Puréed Vegetable Soup in 5 Steps

April  8, 2013

Here at Food52, we love recipes -- but do we always use them? Of course not. Because once you realize you don't always need a recipe, you'll make your favorite dishes a lot more often.

Today: Set your abandoned vegetables free, in just 5 steps. 

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It’s six o’clock, you’re just coming home from work, and a plan for dinner is about as distant as the grocery store is from your front door. (Even if your front door is a grocery store, it's too far. Your stomach is growling. Things are dire.) There is no time for grocery runs, there is no time for recipes. When life does this to you, make soup. 

The ingredients for any puréed soup are probably languishing in your crisper drawer right now -- have a head of cauliflower? A bunch of spinach that’s only a little wilted? Set them free. They were born for this. 

How to Make Any Puréed Vegetable Soup in 5 Steps 

1. Heat your pan with a little bit of fat (olive oil, butter, goose fat, what have you) and add some chopped allium. Onions? Great. Leeks too? Even better. Cover the pan and sweat these until they’re translucent. 

2. Now add in whatever's in your fridge. Cauliflower works well, as do roots, as do greens. (Cut in uniform sizes so they’ll cook evenly.) Season. Salt and pepper are non-negotiable, but experiment at will: curry for cauliflower, ginger and cumin for carrots, Herbs de Provence in anything if you’ve ever wondered what that tastes like.

3. Pour in liquid to cover -- stock will be best, but if you don’t organize your life in a Google spreadsheet and have quarts of it in the freezer, use water and compensate with seasonings and spices. Simmer till tender. 

4. Blend. 

5. Fortify with dairy if you must. A slip of cream or milk will add a richness to your soup, but you can just as easily skip this step. If you're stirring in a sauce, now's the time for that, too. Then eat! And bring the leftovers to work the next day. 


Still want a recipe? Here are a few for inspiration:

• Roasted Cauliflower Soup with Chimichurri and Poblano Creme Fraiche
• Creamy Spring Turnip Soup 
• Roasted Carrot Soup

We're looking for contributors! Email [email protected] and tell us the dish you could make in your sleep, without a recipe.

Photos by James Ransom

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Kenzi Wilbur

Written by: Kenzi Wilbur

I have a thing for most foods topped with a fried egg, a strange disdain for overly soupy tomato sauce, and I can never make it home without ripping off the end of a newly-bought baguette. I like spoons very much.


barbara960 May 8, 2017
I like this Julia Child trick to thicken soups a little without dairy: add uncooked rice-a tablespoon, or more if it's a large amt of liquid, and purée later.
MizF January 7, 2015
Would this work with beets?
Kenzi W. January 7, 2015
I_Fortuna July 3, 2013
BTW, if you don't want to use dairy, nut milks or bean milk, such as soy, mung or lima are great. I make mine at home and they are delicious. And, you can use a few of cubes of cooked potato to thicken your soup and it won't impact the flavors much. Also, cooked grains will work as well as some chick pea flour. If you use flour of any kind, dry roast it briefly in a pan to get rid of the raw taste mix with a tiny bit of cold water and add to your soup or make a roux from the roasted flour and add it after it is blended.
AntoniaJames July 3, 2013
I_Fortuna, these are excellent suggestions! Thank you so much for sharing them. ;o)
I_Fortuna July 3, 2013
I was just reading the asparagus soup recipe which looked great and now this beauty! I love the variations. Since a lot of people have Zucchini in the veggie patch, as always, that is what I use and raw. Making a cold soup with a little cream or yogurt added is delicious on a hot summer day. Especially for hubby when he comes in from doing yardwork in the triple digits. Thanks for posting this delicious recipe!
PrussianBlonde April 22, 2013
I use an immersion blender for these types of soups and its perfect. Not handling hot liquid, making a mess, having more things to wash and it gets the soup creamier than anything.
Rachel February 6, 2014
My immersion blender is one of my favorite Christmas present I recieved this year. I've used it way more than I thought I would.
LauriL April 17, 2013
This was wonderful! I made it with Cauliflower etc but roasted it first so I didnt need to simmer for very long....just long enough to soften the onions and the dried mushrooms that Christina Cucina recommended!
Mb April 17, 2013
It says "Simmmer til tender". That worked for me!
Lisakb April 15, 2013
You're right, the explanation is a bit vague. You do have to simmer to cook the veggies if they are raw.
BakerMary April 15, 2013
Is there a step missing between Add stock and Blend - like simmer until vegs are cooked?
Kenzi W. April 15, 2013
A note's been added! Thanks for the catch.
Christina @. April 15, 2013
Works with mushrooms (dried and fresh) too! I make all sorts of cream soups this way, and you can even leave out the cream to make it even healthier.
monsan April 14, 2013
I've been planning to for weeks to do this using non-fat yogurt for the dairy. . think it will work or am I going to get clabber?. .
lalf April 14, 2013
Monsan, you do not need to use yogurt / dairy to create a thick, rich beautiful soup. I learned two brilliant ways to do this, from Clotilde Dusoulier's excellent blog, Chocolate & Zucchini. One way is to stir 2 heaping tbs. sesame tahini (or other nut butter) into your heated soup at the end of the recipe, after blending your soup. The other is to add 100 grams of toasted almond powder to the soup after you've let the soup cool slightly; then blend the soup with an immersion blender until completely smooth, gently reheating the soup if needed. I use these methods regularly, and my soups come out rich and creamy, without dairy!
monsan April 15, 2013
Thank you, half, for the great suggestions. . but my goal was to eliminate fat rather than dairy. . nuts wouldn't be first choice for that. . !. .
Lisakb April 14, 2013
I am happy to say I figured out this formula long ago! My mom always made sloppy joe's by sauteeing an onion with a pound of ground beef (drain the fat), then adding equal parts ketchup and chili sauce and cooking until the flavors blended; served on burger buns. Yum! One of my childhood favorites.
Ellen C. April 14, 2013
I just did that with an almost-dead head of cauliflower and a bag of baby carrots that were ok but not orange enough to serve. Two tbsp of the sauteed onions I made last week and saved some to spice up omelettes, handful of mushrooms and one box of not-chicken stock and voila, one of the best soups I've ever made (and have been eating for 3 days now). Just some spices (mostly salt/pepper, but certainly it could be curried, coconut-milked, protein-ized w/chick peas or even peanut-buttered in another round of a blender. And so, so satisfying ...
carol_tanenbaum April 14, 2013
Sometimes I'll just clean out the fridge, make soup, and freeze it for those nights when life's too much to cope with. There's something reassuring about having home made soup.
LauriL April 9, 2013
What a perfectly thymed article! I have needed to clean out my refrigetator for a week now. I'm going to try AntoniaJames idea of adding the preed toasted nuts as well!!
LeBec F. April 9, 2013
It's alot faster to separate the cooked veggies from the liquid before pureeing. use a colander(saving the liquid) or remove solids from pot with a sieve/ladle; puree solids and pour back into pot of liquid.
amysarah April 9, 2013
A good way to add body to a pureed veg soup without using cream is to add a peeled potato or two. Garnishing with a small dollop of sour cream (or Greek yogurt) also adds a hint of cream, and a nice textural contrast with the pure vegetable puree.
HeleneES April 8, 2013
If you don't want to add dairy products, I find that a little coconut milk does wonders to add some richness to pureed soup--I made curried cauliflower soup with coconut milk last week and was astonished at how much richness and flavor it added. I only used a cup!
ngardener April 14, 2013
Wow--that sounds fabulous! I'm putting it on the menu.
Rachel February 6, 2014
Totally agree - coconut milk or some Greek Yogurt work wonders in adding richness without as many calories and dairy-free.
Comeandcookwithus April 8, 2013
My grandmother makes soup with every meal and uses bechamel to "refine" it. She just turned 98 and still cooks. We make it 2/3x per week just this way using what's in the fridge and serving it with miso, grana padano and one drop of good quality olive oil. See here:
AntoniaJames April 8, 2013
So glad you posted this. For anyone interested in a creamy quick veggie soup like this -- one that's also quite light! -- without adding either dairy products or nuts (though creamed cashews are positively sublime), I describe how to achieve it, easily, using toasted, blended pepitas here: ;o)