I’d like to start my vegetarian Thanksgiving recipes with one of my favorite fall dishes: carrot leek soup. It’s so fresh, bright and just hits the spot. With all the heavy favorites on the Thanksgiving table, this soup is a wonderful light beginning. Plus, the flavors intensify by the next day, so you can easily make this dish ahead of time, and have one less thing to think about on the big day.
I have searched for a vegetable bullion, stock or broth that I like that doesn’t have a ton of hydrogenated oils and MSG, to no avail. As a gourmet foodie, I sheepishly admit that I’ve also never made my own veggie stock. So, I just use lots of aromatic veggies and herbs, and water. I leave the choice up to you, but for ease of writing, in the recipe I just write “water”.
One of the keys to making this soup more flavorful, is to sauté the carrots and leeks. If you just drop it all in the water without the caramelization in the beginning, you end up with something more like carrot juice. Fine for what it is, but it’s not good soup. (This is really just an approximation. Don’t worry if your yam is less than two cups, or if your leeks are three cups. It’s just a jumping off point for you to have fun with.) You can also change the flavors a bit and use fresh ginger and some coconut milk in place of some of the water for an Asian twist. The thyme is just a more classic Thanksgiving herb. But, please incorporate as much organic/local/sustainable foods into your holiday dishes as you can. Your body, and the planet, will have something more to be thankful for.
Carrot Leek Soup with Fresh Thyme
2 C. chopped leeks (about 1 med. leek)
4 C. chopped carrots (about 7 med. carrots)
2 C. chopped, peeled yams (about 1 large yam)
1 celery stalk, chopped
5 C. filtered water
2 heaping Tbs. minced fresh thyme leaves (strip the leaves off the stem, then mince them)
salt and black pepper
Boil water in kettle (saves you about 5 minutes of waiting for the soup to come to temperature later).
Sauté leeks and carrots about 10 minutes, until they are both a bit caramelized and the leeks are reduced in size.
Add the hot water, yams, celery, salt and pepper, and simmer about 20 minutes. About halfway through, add half of the thyme. When the carrots and yams are soft, turn off the heat and add the rest of the fresh thyme. Because I don’t like transferring burning hot liquids into and out of the blender, I use a stick blender. Very convenient, and no one gets hurt in the process. Just be sure to fully immerse the stick blender, otherwise you’ll have an orange kitchen. Finish with some freshly ground black pepper.
SERVES: about 4-6 appetizer portions