I am on a soup kick lately- the weather here has been absolutely perfect for it. It's "winter" here in Okinawa, which means temperatures in the 50's, overcast and rainy. It's not the winter I would prefer, but I'll take what I can get. Just like the 30 Minute Chicken Noodle Soup I posted the other day, this recipe is high flavor, low maintenance.
Japan is spa-heaven. Seriously, it is. The Japanese culture is very big on customer service and spas, for whatever reason. The customer service makes sense- it's showing their pride in their work. The popularity of spas, though, I still don't understand. In mainland Japan there is a huge area of naturally occurring hot springs,which are used as public bath houses called onsens. They're completely relaxing and magical, and if you ever get a chance to travel to Beppu, I highly recommend stopping there.
While, sadly, there are no onsens in Okinawa, there is a certain relaxation/beauty salon which boasts their hot stone spa. They say the particular type of stone used has healing powers, and I honestly don't really care if they're right or if it's just hooey- it's by far my favorite relaxation experience during my time in Okinawa, with the single exception being the onsens at Beppu. Basically it's a sauna made from tile, and you lay on the tile floor like you're sunbathing. After a while, you emerge completely soaked in sweat but as loose and gooey as melted butter. It's the perfect way to warm up on a chilly, rainy day.
Now that I've got you planning your next vacation to Japan, let me just mention briefly that this soup is awesome because:
1. The main cooking aspect is done in the oven- completely hands off!
2. It's luscious silky texture comes naturally from the blending of the veggies- which means... no cream! This soup is completely dairy free, unless you use some creams as a topping.
3. I think it would even fall into the categories of both clean and paleo- but don't quote me on that since I don't follow either of these diets enough to know the rules well enough.
3. It's easily made vegetarian by using veggie broth, and if you do, it's one step past vegetarian- it's vegan (as long as your broth is vegan).
4. As you can see from the ingredients list, it's pretty much nothing but vegetables. All those nutrients and vitamins in one delicious bowl? Come. To. Mama.
5. This soup will rock your socks off. No joke.
Roasted Vegetable Soup
A Butter Than Toast Original
4 cups butternut squash, diced
1 medium onion, diced
3 large stalks celery, diced
2 large carrots, diced
2 green bell peppers, seeded and diced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and cut in half
1 large russet potato, scrubbed clean and diced (peel ON!)
1 whole leek white and green parts, diced
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups low sodium broth of choice (photographed with chicken broth)
2 cups water, room temperature
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon parsley flakes
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon dill weed
1 pinch cayenne powder
Serving ideas: lean protein of choice, croutons, cream fraiche, sour cream, truffle oil
Heat oven to 400°F. Toss all of the cut vegetables and garlic cloves with the olive oil in a large bowl. Spread evenly in a single layer on a very large jelly roll pan coated with aluminum foil coated with non-stick spray. You may need to use 2-3 pans, depending on what you've got in the cupboard.
Roast for 30-40 minutes or until butternut squash and carrots are very soft. Stir every 10 minutes or so to prevent sticking.
If using a high-powered blender such as Vitamix or Blendtec: Add the liquids and spices to blender cup first, then add the roasted vegetables very carefully. Starting on low, gradually increase the speed until a continuous vortex is formed, adding a little more water if the mixture is too thick to spin. Blend to a silky puree, about 4 minutes on medium-high (variable 6 on a Vitamix). Taste and season as necessary. Serve hot with toppings of choice.
If using an immersion blender: Add the liquids, spices and vegetables to a high-sided sauce pan or soup pot. Turn burner to medium low and puree with an immersion blender until very smooth. Be patient, it might take a bit longer than with the blender. Taste and season as necessary. Serve hot with toppings of choice.