Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Warming Garlic-Onion Soup

Blog-related cooking is a bit slow around here this week. This is because I am doing a little pantry clean-up cooking. Somehow, over the months, so much food has gathered in my refrigerator, freezer and pantry, and some more comes in every weekend as I go grocery shopping. For the last couple of weeks, I have been cooking entirely from the food I already have in the house. Just because dried goods like beans and pasta and flours last for a long time does not necessarily mean that I have to hang on to them for years. It is also a lot of fun trying to come up with things to make from existing supplies and it has become almost a game for me. An impulse purchase of some jarred eggplant spread got mixed with some kidney beans and converted into bean burritos. Sprouted pulses stored in the freezer are being turned into khichdi before they are forgotten. Root vegetables bought in bulk are being roasted to make warm hearty side-dishes. A bag of sun-dried tomatoes that was languishing for months was made into a quick spread for some incredible grilled cheese sandwiches. It is all part of my effort to think 5 times before I buy anything new, whether it is food or something else.

St. Louis is going through some bizarre weather fluctuations. Last week, it was like deathly cold, then the weekend brought some Springtime weather, and yesterday the monsoons struck! I made this soup a few days ago when it was very chilly outside. Luckily, onions and garlic are always on hand in the pantry and they are just perfect for making some soup. I found this incredibly easy recipe for roasted garlic and onion soup on Haalo's blog. It calls for the simplest ingredients, and a short list at that. It practically cooks itself. It is very low in calories, and yet bursting with flavors. It is 100% vegan. What a winner! See Haalo's post for the detailed recipe with beautiful pictures.

Roasted Allium Soup

(adapted from Haalo's post, originally from a Donna Hay recipe; makes about 4 servings)
1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. On a baking sheet, spread 3 red onions (halved but not peeled) and a head of garlic (intact, only the outer dry skin removed and the root cut off). Toss with 1.5 T olive oil and roast for 1 hour or until vegetables are soft and browned.
3. Once the vegetables have cooled a little, peel and roughly chop the onions. Peel and mash the garlic cloves.
4. In a saucepan, combine 3 C vegetable stock, and the roasted onions and garlic. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5-10 minutes.
5. Blend to a coarse puree (leaving some chunky pieces). A stick blender is very convenient for doing this.
6. Season with freshly-ground pepper, salt only if strictly required (taste first) and the juice of 1/4 lemon. Serve hot!

What a flavorful soup this is! We enjoyed it with some bean burritos, but I can imagine this being a wonderful starter to a pulao or accompaniment to a toasted sandwich. With copious amounts of heart-healthy alliums, and sans cream and butter, this steaming bowl of soup finds its way to the Heart of the Matter event hosted by Joanna. The theme this month is Soup.

While we certainly enjoy a rich and cheesy soup every now and then, the soups I routinely make are very heart-healthy. For one thing, they contain copious amounts of vegetables and/or lentils or beans, both integral parts of a wholesome diet. When pureed, these add delicious thickness to the soup. Potato and rice can also be used to add thickness to a soup. I use vegetable stock for most soups, so I go very easy on the salt (usually not adding any at all). A splash of lemon juice or some fresh herbs and freshly ground pepper certainly add to the flavor of soups and make additional salt unnecessary. Instead of cream, low-fat milk is just fine for adding some richness to soups if at all necessary. Finally, to provide a finishing touch to the soup, one can use (a) a dollop of whipped yogurt instead of cream or sour cream, (b) a small amount of shredded cheese, instead of adding it to the whole soup, (c) toasted croutons instead of fried ones.

Some heart-healthy soups on One Hot Stove:
Ginger-Lemon Rasam
Mushroom-Miso Soup
Spicy Cauliflower Soup
Sweet Corn Soup
Tomato Lentil Soup
Tortilla Soup

Some incredible onion and garlic soups from other blogs:
44-clove garlic soup from Smitten Kitchen
Austrian garlic soup from Tea and Cookies
Garlic soup with poached eggs from The Wednesday Chef
Onion garlic soup from Recipe Junction
Vegan onion soup from Kaji's Mom
French onion soup from Coffee and Vanilla
English onion soup from Too Many Chefs
Belgian onion soup from Hot Knives

Bye for now! I'll be back with some...I don't know yet...let's see what else is hiding in my kitchen.


  1. I think I have similar pantry issues that need to be addressed. You've given me some interesting food for thought on how to use some of those long-term items up in a creative way.

  2. Hi Nupur,

    I have to try this soup, its been raining and freezing in bay area, CA for the past few days.
    Do you have any recommendation on which hand blender to go with?? Is 250W of power sufficient, I have been looking for a while and am confused. I am hoping that I can use the blender for making purees and palak paneer, etc.

  3. Soup looks lovely Nupur i was laughing when i read your post as even my pantry has some things which i have soon once and been there for months and some in double qts as i thought i didn't have any an dbrought some more to realise later that i have 2 pkts of same things. Good luck with your cleaning up and please please help me to do mine as well!!

  4. I wish I could be that disciplined to say that I am going to use up all the stuff in the pantry before going to stock up on more :)

  5. Hi Nupur,
    Delicious soup for this chilly weather.Going to try this.
    Thanks for sharing.

  6. perfect soup for this winter nupur looks yummy

  7. Looks good Nupur! I should really start venturing out of my confort zone and trying some new soup recipes... seems like i always stick to the old ones that i've tried over and over again!
    And i am with u on the "Pantry Cleanup" - I have it on my list of To Do's for over 2 months now :-(

  8. I'm inspired by your commitment to eat down your pantry. I've always said I could live for weeks on what I've got stored in the pantry, but too often I cave and buy something to add, just because I'm in the mood for a particular taste. I'm going to forage for dinner right now!

  9. damn it beat me on blogging about the onion soup looks just delicious!!

  10. You are so right about the pantry thing.... I have some dry masalas lying in my pantry since ages... I'm motivated to clean up my pantry now.. thanx!!! :)
    and btw, the soup looks gr8!!! just perfect for this cold weather

  11. Soup looks delicious. I know what you mean by pantry clean-up cooking!! Long overdue at my kitchen!

  12. I love this pairing, and often include it in my soups too:) yours sure looks warm:D

    btw, I'm hosting an event this month and would love to have you participate:) it's not too tiring, believe me!:)

  13. I totally agree with the "pantry clean-up cooking". I am in the same mode, more or less, these days! Dried goods need to be taken care of too, like you said! And this soup, needless to say, is simple and hearty. Would go really well with some left over sabzi toast!

  14. onions and garlic, one of the best combinations ever!

  15. Ah, Nupur, you are living my dream! Someday I'm going to take my pantry-stash and move it, and myself, way up to Lake Superior, miles and miles from grocery stores... see how long I can manage without one shopping trip! ;)

    The soup looks beautiful and I'm sure it was delicious with that slow roasting. Even the color is toasty-warm :)

  16. Soups are comforters in cold weather. Loved the recipe.

  17. I am not a fan of soups though my husband and daughter are.
    I like onion soup, though.
    Your picture is very tempting.

  18. I love soup in winter. :) Sometimes I just make up my soup with whatever vegetables I have in hand. Luckily so far it turned out good. :)

  19. Wow Nupur the soup sounds delicious. N its soo healthy too. Soups are good in winters, though I am not very, very fond of them. But am trying to take a liking to them.

  20. TWB, I think all cooking enthusiasts are likely to have stuff in the pantry to see us through a year or two :D but truly, the dried beans that I love so much don't taste as good years down the line.

    Meghana, this is the hand blender that I have:
    I bought it more than 5 years ago, because Braun is a reputable company and the price was affordable. I have been using it several times a week all these years! When I moved from NYC to St. Louis, I gave away the little chopper to someone (because I rarely used it) but the stick blender is what I use all the time for making purees, curries, soups and smoothies. This one is 200W and is quite sufficient for my needs.

    Padmaja, "help me to do mine"...well, yu might do it quite eagerly once you tell yourself that this is going to save you (a) time that you spend shopping, (b) money, (c) lead to some unusual and creative meals! It will make your own life easier in the end to have a roomier, more organized pantry.

    Cynthia, it is easy when it is more about fun than about discipline :)

    Vineela, let me know if you enjoy it!

    Sagari, thanks!

    Latha, that's what I did for the longest time...stick to my old 4-5 favorite soup recipes. It is only in the last few months that I have started to enjoy making (and eating) different types of soups.

    Lydia, "eat down the pantry"...I like that :D yes, these are all my impulse purchases that I really am struggling to finish. I am pretty disciplined about sticking to my shopping list but over months it does happen! Your pantry should be able to give you awesome meals for months on end :)

    Rajitha, LOL...can't wait to see your version and try making it! It seems that every version of onion soup has some unique twist on the theme.

    Ramya, dry masalas really add up! We use them in such small quantities...I too have tons of masalas in stock :D

    Meera, thanks! It has been long over-due at mine too. I could not do it during the holidays (too much "special" cooking) but Jan is the best time to do this since it is a fairly boring month!

    Mansi, I'll definitely try my best to participate in your event :)

    Musical, oh yes, soup and sabzi toast would be just heavenly!!

    Nags, so true...I love that combination in just about every dish :) except dessert, maybe ;)

    easycrafts, it sure is!

    Linda, well, pantry-cooking is one thing, but living in the wilderness...gulp...I don't think I am cut out for that :D but it sure is fun to think of how long you can go without a shopping trip!
    This soup is so delicious...the onions and garlic are smoky and almost sweet by this point of roasting. And yes, a golden beautiful color.

    Taste of Mysore, glad you like it!

    Aparna, I was not a big fan of soup but that has changed over the past few months...since they are so warming and filling. You might like this one :)

    The Cooking Ninja, yes, soups are ever so hardly even need a recipe. I agree!

  21. Nupur! the right time to be doing pantry cleaning. It will Bogi in a few days after all :)
    The soup looks perfect!

  22. Nupur, this is so warm and soothing soup for any allium lover. I love garlic in any form

    thanks for such wonderful recipe and it seems everyone is cleaning out their pantry!

  23. Thanks for letting me know about the hand blender Nupur, I am going to evaluate and buy one soon.

  24. Oh yes, I know those pantry, fridge and freezer issues only to well! I cleaned out my food bunkers just before Christmas but I am already noticing things piling up again. The garlic soup sounds too good. I love such warm and comforting soups!

  25. That soup sounds gorgeous! I didn't know you could whip yogurt! I alwasy add a 'dollop' to my soups. I'm trying to clean out the pantry/freezer this month a bit as well. It's an interesting challenge!

  26. You are so right, Nupur. I too was pantry cleaning last week. Didn't know I was hoarding so much. Some creative, some weird meal ideas are born out of 'em :D

  27. Nupur, I've been taking stock of all the food-items I have and it was mindblowing indeed! I can't believe that I still find the need to go out shopping every week inspite of all this sitting at home.
    That soup seems really robust and flavorful.

  28. I did bedroom cleaning today. Vacuuming corners, moving the bed, reorganizing clothes... fun, fun! Now, I feel like I need to tackle the kitchen! Love your warm and hearty soup.

  29. Love the soup idea and will be making this soon - love soups and all new versions are always welcome!

  30. what a yummy sounding soup - I think onions are sort of miraculous when they are cooked and pureed into a soup? MMmmmmmmm! My troublespot for accumulating things is my freezer. I usually have lots of bags of nuts. I also have a tendancy to freeze excess baked goods so I won't eat them and to freeze leftovers, particularly those I didn't enjoy. I managed to clear out some space in it last month when I used up lots of nuts, but it could do with a housecleaning!

  31. the soup is awesome. unfortunately, I had to make two batches because the first one landed on the kitchen floor. why, of all soups, the onion and garlic one?

  32. Indosungod, yes, my pantry seems to be in perpetual need of cleaning :D

    Padma, me too, I am a big fan of all things garlicky :)

    Meghana, you are very welcome! Hope you find one you like.

    Meeta, the soup tastes as good as it sounds, I promise!

    Katiez, well, whipping yogurt just makes it look creamy and nice to serve. Perhaps whisking is a better word! Good luck with your pantry/freezer cleaning :)

    Suganya, creative and weird are both good, right? :D

    Laavanya, I know...we seem to have some compulsive need to go shopping every weekend although we can probably feed the whole neighborhood with the food on hand!

    Susan, I totally can be very therapeutic and fulfilling at times! The soup is certainly worth a try.

    Miri, try will like it. It is a delicious one!

    Cathy, "miraculous" is exactly the right word! They simply melt down into this sweet and smoky puree. I know what you mean by storing frozen baked goods :( I stopped doing that because I would never remember to thaw them out. I know what you mean about freezing leftovers that you did not really enjoy :D I do that too!

    pavotrouge, on the floor?! :( Oh dear, I hope you did not get scalded or anything. I'm sorry that happened and I'm glad you did enjoy the second batch!

  33. I need to clean out my kitchen too! Now when I thinkof it, i keep buying stuff and the old is 'out of sight , out of mind'!!
    The soup looks lovely.. I am going to try it with some s'wiches u have blogged abt earlier!


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