What's for dinner? It is the eternal question and, nationwide, the "I'm out of ideas" face can be spotted on folks wandering the grocery store in search of inspiration.
While even chefs sometimes get "dinner block," there is an advantage to having a library of tricks and techniques at your disposal. And as the weather grows cool and the days grow short, top chefs look to their most coveted culinary secret: soup.
Quick and easy? Check. Perfect make-ahead item? Check. Slow-cooker friendly? Double check. Delicious and satisfying on its own, or paired with sandwiches or salad? Check, check, check.
This recipe is almost vegetarian (omit the Worcestershire sauce, which is made with anchovies, or replace with a vegetarian version) and can be made dairy-free or vegan with a few slight changes. Substitute olive oil when it calls for butter, and replace the cream with an unsweetened nondairy milk substitute. Or, to help replicate the richness that heavy cream offers, stir in soaked and pureed cashews.
Once you've made this soup, you have a base recipe that you can use all the way through winter. Instead of sweet potato, you can use any hearty vegetable, like butternut squash, parsnip or carrot. Use your favorite herbs, like sage or thyme, and your go-to flavoring ingredients like hot sauce, Parmesan cheese and balsamic vinegar. The beauty of soup is that it's tough to ruin. If it gets too thin and watered down, simply simmer until the flavors reduce. Too thick and gloppy? Just add more stock or broth, or even water.
A soup this hearty can be served as a main course, alongside a bright fall salad (think greens, apples, and pecans) or an open-faced chicken salad sandwich on multigrain toast. It's also a perfect next-day lunch or starter course at a dinner party.