We are finally in the peak weeks of glorious fall foliage here in Boston. Despite several gloomy days of rain in the past week (our first Nor'easter in a series of several, sadly), many of the leaves have clung onto the trees, and we were blessed with balmy weather and beautiful vibrant hues this past weekend.
As the cold weather comes upon us, I find myself craving soup.
Soup is the perfect comfort food and one of my favorite foods in the colder seasons. Autumn is when the weekly farm share starts to deliver all sorts of root vegetables. Recently, I've gotten everything from rainbow carrots and Kennebec potatoes to purple kohlrabi, honeynut squash, and leeks. With Bryan traveling quite a bit this month (leaving me with the task of eating a whole weekly share by myself!), I find that I am gravitating towards soup as the perfect, all-in-one autumn meal.
A couple weeks ago, McCormick (the spice brand!) invited me to partner with them on Flavor of Together, a program aims to start a global conversation about food and flavor by asking people to share their experiences with one another. For every story shared using #FlavorStory or on FlavorofTogether.com, McCormick will donate $1, up to $1.25 million to United Way to help feed those in need.
One part of this program includes the concept of Clever Compact Cooking , a movement which embraces cooking in small spaces and discovering creative, cross-functional ways to prepare flavorful meals while making the most of what’s available. For example, check out this fun video by McCormick partner Chef Juan Pedrosa of The Glenville Stops in Boston, who demonstrates how to make vegetable pho with tea broth using a French press!
For me, one tool that has been invaluable in helping me save time in the kitchen has been the pressure cooker, which is a lifesaver when it comes to cranking out healthy, made-from-scratch meals in about an hour.
Soup can take a long time to make, especially on a traditional stove top with slow cooking ingredients like root vegetables, grains, and the like. These days, I always make soup in my trusty pressure cooker, definitely one of the biggest timesaving cooking tools Bryan's ever given to me as a gift.
Making what I call "veggie stew" at home is pretty simple and reasonably forgiving. I've shown an example of ingredients you can use here, but much of it is interchangeable. Feel free to substitute other root vegetables like turnips, parsnips, and squash.
Most importantly, you want to have aromatics (like onions, shallots, leeks) as a base.
I like to add carrots for their sweetness and something celery-like, whether it be celery itself, celeriac, or fennel bulb (pictured above). I absolutely love potatoes in a vegetable soup, so if I have some in the weekly vegetable share, I will most definitely add them. I like the umami that smoked meat offers, so I usually add something like bacon, smoked ham, or sausage. I also like to add dried Shitake mushrooms, which add a lovely deeper umami as well.
Start out by cooking your meat. In my case, I wanted to render some of the fat from the bacon so I could use it to saute the rest of my aromatics. After cooking the aromatics for a couple minutes, add the rest of your vegetables, fill the pot up with broth or water. Add spices. I like to use thyme, a bay leaf, and lots of black pepper.
Cook under high pressure for about 30 minutes. Then slowly release the pressure. If you're not in a hurry, you can just turn off the heat and let it naturally release pressure. Otherwise, you can also release pressure more quickly using the method recommended by the manufacturer. In the case of my Kuhn Rikon I just press down on the little lever on top and it released steam until the pressure is back down.
Salt to taste. If you're using water or a low sodium broth, you may need to add a bit more salt.
Share your own unique flavor story by commenting on this post using the hashtag #flavorstory and be entered for a chance to win a McCormick Anniversary Pack. The pack includes exclusive McCormick products (both black pepper and vanilla extract – not available in stores!), a McCormick recipe book, and a branded canvas tote – all valued at $50. For inspiration, feel free to check out other flavor stories on their website.
Giveaway closes on November 4th, at midnight, EST.
- 4 strips of bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
- 2 leeks, chopped
- 2-3 shallots, sliced
- 3-4 carrots, sliced
- 3-4 small potatoes (or 1 large potato)
- 1 head of kohlrabi, cut into cubes (optional)
- ½ to ¾ cup of a grain (e.g., wheatberries, barley, rice)
- 2-3 cups of water or broth (enough to cover the vegetables in the pot)
- ½ teaspoon thyme (e.g., McCormick brand)
- 1 bay leaf (e.g., McCormick brand)
- salt and pepper to taste
- Saute bacon in the pressure cooker over medium heat for about 5 minutes or under the fat is mostly rendered
- Add leeks and shallots and cook until shallots are translucent
- Add carrots, potatoes, kohlrabi, and any other root vegetables
- Add grains
- Add water or broth until all vegetables are covered (to speed things up, preboil the water or broth separately while chopping vegetables)
- add thyme, bay leaf, and pepper
- Cook on high pressure for 30 minutes. Release the pressure according to the manufacturer's instructions.
- Salt to taste and serve
Disclaimer: this post is sponsored by McCormick. All opinions are my own.