Ah, January! The month of ambitions, resolutions, and of course, ambitious resolutions. It’s the month after we all survived (or relished) a steadfast barrage of drinks and food, to commit to a healthier lifestyle; what could be more virtuous than a nice, hearty bowl of homemade soup?
If you’ve been subsisting on leftovers, take-out, butter cookies or a combination of the three for the last month, here are some easy soup recipes to get you off the vicious cycle of festive eating.
Sweet Potato Coconut Curry Soup
The next best thing to booking a ticket to a sunny destination is to take inspiration from their flavours and put them into one hearty soup. Here’s a simple and rich, vegan soup with a spicy, roasted chickpea garnish.
1 medium white onion, diced
4 cloves garlic minced
1 large sweet potato, cubed
2 tbsp yellow curry powder
1/4 tsp chipotle (or cayenne) powder*
3/4 tsp sea salt + 1/2 tsp pepper
3 cups coconut milk (either light coconut milk or plain coconut beverage)
Spicy baked chickpeas:
1 can chickpeas (2 cups)
3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp yellow curry powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp ginger powder
1 pinch chipotle (or cayenne) powder
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Start the soup by sweating the onions in a large pot over medium heat in 1/2 tbsp coconut (or olive/canola) oil. Cook for a few minutes and then add garlic and stir.
Season with 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper and stir. Add sweet potatoes, curry powder, chipotle and stir. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add 1/4 tsp more salt and pepper and the coconut milk. Then cover. Bring to a simmer and then reduce heat to low. Simmer for 25 minutes more.
In the meantime, prep your chickpeas by tossing them in olive oil and spices and spreading evenly on a baking sheet. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until crispy on the outside and slightly soft on the inside. Remove and set aside for serving.
At the end of 25 minutes, taste and adjust seasonings as needed. I added about 1/4 tsp more salt and a pinch more chipotle. Then puree using an immersion blender, food processor or blender. Transfer back to the pot if needed and keep heat on low until ready to serve. Will keep in the fridge for several days and the freezer for a month or so.
Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Soup
Roasted red peppers pureed into a silky texture. It’s as delicious as it is pretty.
4 large red bell peppers
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery sticks, trimmed and sliced
3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh parsley
1 tbsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp garam masala
1 bay leaf
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup heavy cream
Place rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Place whole red bell peppers in a 9×13-inch dish. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil and rotate to lightly coat each pepper in oil. Roast for 15 minutes until blackened on the top. Remove from the oven and flip each pepper. Roast for another 15 minutes until the other side is also softened and blackened.
Remove from the oven and immediately cover the pan in foil. Allow to steam for 10 minutes. Uncover and let the peppers rest until cool enough to handle. When cool, remove the stem and all of the seeds and the charred red pepper skin. Discard.
To make the soup, place a large pot over medium heat. Add the remaining olive oil. Add the onions and garlic and cook until the onions are softened and translucent about five minutes. Add the carrots, celery and parsley. Cook for three minutes more.
Add the cumin, garam masala, and bay leaf. Stir to combine. Add the roasted peppers. Add the stock, turn the heat to low, place a lid on the pot and simmer for 20 minutes or until the carrots and celery are softened through.
Remove the pan from the heat and use an immersion blender to blend the soup mixture smooth. Alternately, you can blend the soup in three batches in an upright blender. Just be not to fill the blender too full and to keep the lid on tight. Stir in heavy cream and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Italian Sausage, Tomato, and Orzo soup
Just like you wish your nonna made you!
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 lb. Italian sausage links (casings removed); rolled into bite-sized pieces
1/2 red onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 cup whole wheat orzo pasta
3 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
3 cups water
2 15oz cans diced tomatoes – no salt added
1 tbsp dried Italian seasoning
1 tbsp dried Oregano
1/2 tsp ground fennel
1 tsp salt
Black pepper to taste
In a 3-quart soup pot on a medium-high flame, heat olive oil until shimmering (about 1-2 min). Add sausage pieces and sauté until lightly browned; transfer cooked pieces to a plate and set aside.
To the heated, oiled pan, add onion, garlic, and celery; sauté until fragrant and slightly tender, stirring as needed (3-4 min). Add orzo; sauté until lightly brown (2-3 min). Add chicken broth, water, diced tomatoes (with their juice), Italian seasoning, oregano, fennel, salt and pepper.
Bring to boil; continue boiling until pasta is cooked through (about 10 min); add sausage back to pot about halfway through the boiling process.
Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
The Pumpkin Spice Latte of soup, Butternut Squash is a cliché for a reason. The aromas of roasted squash with hints of cinnamon and garlic make this a winter comfort food staple. It’s here to stay. Welcome it with open arms.
1 large butternut squash (about 3 pounds), halved vertically and seeded
1 tbsp olive oil, plus more for drizzling
½ cup chopped shallot (about 1 large shallot bulb)
1 tsp salt
4 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
1 tsp maple syrup
⅛ tsp ground nutmeg
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Up to 4 cups (32 ounces) vegetable broth
1 to 2 tbsp butter, to taste (substitute olive oil for dairy free/vegan soup)
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the butternut squash on the pan and drizzle each half with just enough olive oil to lightly coat the squash on the inside (about 1 teaspoon each). Rub the oil over the inside of the squash and sprinkle it with salt and pepper.
Turn the squash face down and roast until it is tender and completely cooked through, about 45 to 50 minutes. Set the squash aside until it’s cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes. Then use a large spoon to scoop the butternut squash flesh into a bowl and discard the skin.
Meanwhile, in a medium skillet or large soup pot, warm 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add the chopped shallot and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring often, until the shallot has softened and is starting to turn golden on the edges, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute, stirring frequently.
Transfer the cooked shallot and garlic to your blender. Add the reserved butternut, maple syrup, nutmeg and a few twists of freshly ground black pepper. Pour in 3 cups vegetable broth, being careful not to fill the container past the maximum fill line (you can stir in any remaining broth later). Secure the lid and select the soup preset. The blender will stop running once the soup is super creamy and hot.
If you would like to thin out your soup a bit more, add the remaining cup of broth. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil, to taste, and blend well. Taste and blend in more salt and pepper, if necessary.
Mexican Lentil Soup
The humble lentil takes center stage. Packed with fibre, super easy and quick to cook, it’s the legume’s time to shine and it shines bright in this recipe.
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp cumin
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp oregano
2 cups diced tomatoes and the juices
2 (4 oz.) cans diced green chiles
2 cups green lentils, rinsed and picked over
8 cups vegetable broth
1/2 tsp salt
dash (or more) hot sauce, plus more for serving
fresh cilantro, for garnish
1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and diced, or garnish
Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion, carrots, celery, and bell pepper. Saute until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, cumin, paprika, and oregano and saute another minute.
Add tomatoes, chiles, lentils, broth and salt. Bring to a simmer. Simmer the soup with the lid tilted until lentils are tender, about 30-40 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Serve Mexican Lentil Soup topped with fresh cilantro, avocado, and a few dashes of hot sauce.
All of the recipes above freeze well. Make a big batch, break bread with loved ones and usher in the new year feeling simultaneously virtuous and nourished.