How To Make Pureed Soups
Pureed soups are a wonderful way to enjoy vegetables. They're warm, they're comforting, they're satisfying. You really can't lose!
So what is a pureed soup?
Well, unlike a vegetable soup, it's a smooth blend of flavors that can be as simple or as complex as you like.
It's actually similar to a cream soup... without the cream. Which means it's not quite as rich – and that can be a good thing! You get all the goodness of the food, but you won't end up feeling heavy or too full.
And of course, the best pureed soups are the ones you make yourself! I know, I say that about almost everything – but I really believe it! You just have to know how to do it.
Luckily, pureed soups couldn't be any easier to make. One simple technique, and you can experiment with just about any vegetable you can imagine! So let's find out how.
In this article, I'll go over how to make pureed soups. First, I'll talk about the three building blocks that make up a pureed soup: the soup base, the thickener, and the main vegetable. Then I'll show you how to put it all together to make a delicious soup.
What Are Pureed Soups Made Of?
The Soup Base
The first building block that makes up pureed soups is the soup base. Basically, it's the broth that the rest of the ingredients are going to cook in.
Generally, the soup base isn't what adds the main flavor to a pureed soup, but it can add a whole lot of complexity and depth to your soup by adding secondary flavors and textures.
A few aromatics like onion, garlic, or ginger, a splash of wine, and a good stock can go a long way in making an outstanding soup instead of just a good one!
So how do you make an awesome soup base? It's simple... here's what you need:
Some aromatic vegetables. Onions, leeks, and garlic are great choices, because they add lots of flavor and complement lots of vegetables so nicely. You can also use carrots or celery, or some minced ginger, depending on what type of soup you're making – just remember, you don't want to overpower your main vegetable.
A little bit of butter or oil to saute the aromatics.
Next, you need a good stock. Any kind will do – chicken, beef, vegetable. Each will add its own particularities to the soup though, so pick something that will go well with your vegetables and spices.
Nothing beats a homemade stock. To find out more, check out our articles on making homemade stock.
You can also used canned stocks or broths if you don't have anything homemade on hand. It's not quite as awesome, but you'll still end up with a great soup.
Finally, you can substitute some water for some of the stock if you don't have enough. It won't add as much flavor, but you'll still have all the delicious vegetable taste.
(Optional) You can also add some seasonings to your soup. What kind? Anything you can imagine. Rosemary, sage, and thyme are some classic, tasty herbs. But you can also experiment with others – for example, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves go great with squash.
You can add these seasonings at any time during the cooking process... in fact, you may want to add them later rather than sooner – it'll let you taste how the spices blend in with your vegetables.
Certain herbs should be added at the start, especially fresh herbs that need time to release their flavors, like a sprig of fresh rosemary.
It's better to add the spices in a little bit at a time, taste, and then add more if you think it's not strong enough. It's much, much easier to add seasonings than to remove them!
(Optional) Wine makes a delicious addition to pureed soups. Just add a bit to the aromatics before adding the stock, and let the alcohol boil off a bit. Or add it directly to the soup – just be sure to let it cook to get rid of the alcohol.
And that's it! Just use these simple ingredients, and you've got the first part of a great pureed soup.
Whether or not you use a thickener depends on two things: which vegetable you pick as your main ingredient, and how thick you like your soup.
Some vegetables will naturally give a thick soup – certain squashes and sweet potatoes are great examples. But others, like broccoli or cauliflower, might give a bit of a thin puree. Using less broth isn't always an option, because you need a certain minimum amount to cook your veggies.
And so, you can use a thickener:
- Potatoes are probably the most common thickener used in pureed soup. They do a great job, and they're mild enough that their flavor won't overpower your soup.
- Just cut them up into one inch chunks and cook them in the broth until they're soft enough to mash.
- Rice can help thicken pureed soups, too.
- Again, just cook a bit of rice in the broth – but remember, rice absorbs water, so you'll end up with less broth than you started with.
- Or, you can add separately cooked rice to the soup before pureeing it.
- Beans and grains are good thickeners.
- You can use canned beans, or cook up your own dried beans and add them to the soup.
- Grains like barley or quinoa can be cooked right in the soup, adding lots of nutrients on top of thickening the soup.
- There are lots of other thickeners out there. If it becomes soft when you boil it, and gets thick when you mash it, then it's a great option for a thickener. Just be sure to use something that'll complement the flavors in your soup, and not overpower them.
And that's it for the thickener. What could be easier? Just another vegetable, or some grains or beans added to the pot!
The Main Ingredient
And finally, the last building block in pureed soups – the main ingredient: the main flavor, the main vegetable.
And what is the main ingredient? Well, it's what you'd name your soup after. Yes, it might have onions and ginger, but the main ingredient in a butternut squash puree is, well, butternut squash!
So what can you use?
- Well, there's only one real condition. The vegetable you pick should get soft when you cook it, and it should puree nicely. And yes, that means almost anything!
- You can also use combinations of vegetables, but this is one situation where less is more.
You can combine 2 or 3 vegetables, but generally, if you use lots more than that, you're just diluting the flavor. A few key vegetables, and some seasonings carefully picked to enhance their flavors – that's the real key!
- Chop up your vegetables into chunks that'll cook quickly.
And there you go! That's the last building block to pureed soups. Now that we know the basic elements, we can put them all together.
How To Make A Pureed Soup
Making a pureed soup is just a matter of putting the three basic building blocks together. And it's so simple!
Here's how you do it:
Make the soup base.
Chop up the aromatics and cook them in a bit of butter or oil, long enough for onions to get translucent but not brown.
If desired, add a bit of wine. Bring it to a boil, and let it reduce by about half.
Add the stock.
Add the seasonings. You can do this at the end, too, if you prefer, unless you're using herbs or spices that need time to release their flavors (like a lot of fresh herbs).
Add all the vegetables and thickeners, based on how long they need to cook.
For example, turnips would need to cook longer than broccoli, so you'd add the turnips first, let them cook a bit, then add the broccoli.
Be sure to chop up the vegetables in small chunks that'll cook quickly. They don't have to be perfect - they're going to pureed, after all. But they should cook fairly evenly.
Gently simmer the soup until all the vegetables are soft.
Puree the soup.
I find that using an immersion blender is the easiest way to do it. You can just blend the soup right in the pot it cooked in, and you're done!
You can also use a regular blender. You should puree in batches, making sure not to fill the container more than halfway. Be careful to do it slowly, and vent steam regularly. If it builds up, the top could fly right off and throw very hot soup everywhere – very messy and dangerous.
If the vegetables are soft enough, you can puree them with a potato masher or by pushing them through a strainer.
You can make the puree as smooth or as coarse as you like it. Some people like their pureed vegetable soup a bit chunky, others prefer it silky smooth. Try different ways to see what you like best!
Taste the soup, and add any seasonings that you feel are missing. Maybe some salt, pepper, ginger, cloves... whatever goes well with the soup.
Serve, and enjoy.
And what about quantities? Well, to be honest, they really don't matter very much. It really depends on what particular ingredients you're using and what you like. But here are a few guidelines:
- You need about enough broth to cover the vegetables you're cooking. Too much more, and you'll end up with a very thin soup.
- A medium sized potato will do a good job thickening 2 to 4 cups of liquid. Use more if you have a very thin soup.
- Don't be afraid to experiment. You can always add more liquid to a soup. And, it's not as easy, but you can often blend in a bit of extra thickener.
- If you're using wine, one part wine to six parts broth is a good ratio... but again, feel free to try different things out to see what you like!
- Season lightly at first and then taste. You can always add a little bit more, but it's hard to take the seasoning out of a soup.
And there you have it! Now you can make any kind of delicious pureed soup you like. It's simple, but so tasty and satisfying.