Aptly named because of its golden-orange hue, Sunshine Veggie soup contains three of the highest foods in beta carotene: orange sweet potato, carrots & butternut squash (pumpkin). Beta carotene is of course the red-orange pigment found in fruits & vegetables. The body converts it into vitamin A (retinol) which is needed for healthy skin & mucus membranes, the immune system & good eye health & vision. It helps keep lungs healthy & is an antioxidant. This soup, regardless of its health properties, is warming, delicious & is one of the many hand-written recipes I found when my sister & I recently went through our father’s possessions after his passing in August.
For anyone who has had to rummage through someone’s belongings after their death you’ll understand what a sad, confronting task it is. The decision as to what to keep, give away or sadly, throw away, is a heavy responsibility that weighed on my sister & me. Our father, John, was a gourmand. Not only did he love to eat good food but was a remarkable cook. It was his passion. He would often take recipe notes of something I had cooked whether for him or me telling him over the phone what I’d made for dinner. Or take notes during a cooking show he was watching. Recipes in his neat, architect-style penmanship were slid throughout cookbooks, notepads, food magazines & random stacks of papers. This Sunshine Veggie Soup was one of them. Except it had no name…just a recipe hurriedly written with little in the way of instructions. Yet it sounded comforting, something I was seeking in my grief. So I made it. Not only did it taste wonderful but the colour of it was, as the name implies, like sunshine. Regardless of its health properties, served piping hot with some warm, buttered toast, I know John would have enjoyed it too.
SUNSHINE VEGGIE SOUP
- large pot
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 large leek, white & tender green part only, washed thoroughly & chopped
- 8 garlic cloves, peeled & chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 cup dry white wine or vermouth 125ml, optional
- 12 oz peeled & chopped butternut squash 340g
- 12 oz peeled & chopped orange sweet potato 340g
- 12 oz peeled & chopped carrots 340g
- 2 russet potatoes, peeled & chopped about 12oz/340g
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon white pepper
- 1 quart chicken broth 4 cups/1 liter
- 1/2 cup heavy cream, sour cream or plain full-fat yogurt, plus extra to serve 125ml
- Black or white pepper, to serve
- Crusty sourdough or wholegrain bread of choice, to serve
- In a large, heavy-based pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion & leek. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 15 minutes until softened. Add the garlic & nutmeg & cook for3 minutes until fragrant.
- Add the wine & cook to reduce it by almost half just to cook off the alcohol.
- Add the squash, sweet potato, carrot, potato, salt, pepper & broth. Give the pot a good stir. Increase the heat to medium-high & bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook, covered for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the vegetables are tender and starting to breaking apart.
- Add the cream & stir to combine. Blitz the mixture in a blender, in batches, until silky smooth. Check to see if it needs any further seasoning. Either add the soup back to the pot to reheat if you’re serving immediately, or ladle into freezer-safe containers. Label & seal; let cool before freezing. To serve, add a swirl of cream or sour cream & some freshly ground pepper. Makes about 2 1/2 quarts (2 1/2 liters/10 cups).