Essence of Autumn Soup

Serves 4-6

Making a bowl of homemade soup doesn’t have to be complicated, and there may be no better way to enjoy, and even celebrate, the essence of whatever fall vegetable you have than with a simple bowl of soup. What we have here can hardly be called a recipe; it’s just an easy formula for turning a single vegetable–parsnip, celeriac, or cauliflower–into soup. You can use this basic technique with other vegetables as well, so give full reign to your imagination and keep in mind that making it is especially quick. All you do is cook up some onions and garlic, add water and the vegetable of your choice, and cook it all a bit more. Then puree it, season it, and you have soup; add a little cream, and you have an indulgence.

Master Ingredient List

1-2 tablespoons butter or extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, peeled and diced
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1-1/2 pounds vegetables, as detailed below
6 cups water
1/8 cup heavy cream, optional
fine sea salt to taste

Specifications by Vegetable Type

Parsnips: Peel, if necessary, and cut into 1″ dice. Cooking time: 20-25 minutes.
Celeriac: Peel and cut into 1″ dice. cooking time: 25-30 minutes.
Cauliflower: Cut into florets. cooking time: 20-25 minutes.

This recipe will work with many autumn vegetables–but not tough leafy greens, brussel sprouts or cabbage, to name a few. I tried it with winter squash, but the soup was so intensely “squashy” that it didn’t appeal to me. If you try the soup with “wetter” broccoli or spinach–both available in early autumn–you may want to add a peeled potato (cut into pieces) to the cooking water to give the soup more body.


1. In a heavy soup pot, warm the butter or olive oil over a medium-low heat. Add the diced onion and sea salt and cook until the pieces become translucent. Add the crushed garlic cloves and cook for a few minutes more.

2. Add the vegetable pieces and water and bring the soup to a gentle boil. Lower the heat and simmer, covered, until the vegetables are tender enough to be crushed when pressed against the inside of the pot with a spoon.

3. Using an immersion blender or a regular blender, puree the soup. Finish it with cream, if you like, and season to taste with sea salt.

Copyright 2010, Ellen Arian, Ellen’s Food & Soul