Victor Protasio
Active Time
40 MIN
Total Time
2 HR 40 MIN
Yield
Serves : 4

Hands-off cooking is something most of us think of when it comes to multicookers, Instant Pots, and slow cookers—you know, the “set it and forget it” genre of cooking appliances. But I live in a modest Brooklyn apartment, so I have to be judicious in which cooking appliances I keep around. Even if I love it, if it’s a gadget I won’t use more than once a month, it doesn’t stay around. That’s why instead of pots with plugs and cords coming out of them, I’m pretty old school. My Dutch oven and I go way back, and let me tell you, I’m loyal.

For this soup, my idea was to rumble through my fridge, gather up odds and ends, throw them in a pot, walk away while they roasted and their flavors intensified, then puree, and—shazam—soup! My first stab at this was dismal. Unfortunately I had dinner guests that night, too—and even though they ate the soup with smiles on their faces (why in the world did I think a puree of parsnips, beets, and tomatoes sounded good?), I knew in my heart that the soup stank.

But I don’t give up easily. The next time, I approached the idea with intention. Rather than going for the rando odds and ends huddling in the corners of my vegetable bin, I purposefully chose vegetables I knew would be nice together after a good long roast in the oven: red bell peppers, carrots, onions, and kabocha squash. I wanted the soup to taste deep and rich without using a stock, so I turned to my umami arsenal of flavor boosters: miso, soy sauce, canned tomatoes, and a dash of smoked paprika. How could the soup not be delicious?

I tossed the veg with a miso-oil paste and then roasted them just shy of an hour, until they were caramelized, tender, and sweet. Then I added the spices, tomatoes, and other liquids and simmered for just a bit more than an hour. My apartment smelled phenomenal! A quick blend later and I had a hearty, robust, totally complex soup that was incredibly healthy—and vegan, too. And I didn’t have to risk making my trusty Dutch oven jealous by sneaking around with an Instant Pot. Loyalty is a beautiful—and sometimes delicious—thing indeed.

How to Make It

Step 1    

Place a medium Dutch oven in oven. Preheat oven to 400°F. Toss together bell peppers, carrots, onion, squash, garlic, oil, miso, and 1 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl until vegetables are coated in miso mixture.

Step 2    

Add vegetable mixture to hot Dutch oven. Return to oven, and roast in preheated oven, uncovered, until vegetables are tender, about 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes and scraping to loosen any browned bits along sides of Dutch oven.

Step 3    

While vegetables roast, stir together canned tomatoes, soy sauce, thyme, paprika, cumin, pepper, 3 cups water, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt in same medium bowl. Remove vegetable mixture from oven. Pour tomato mixture over vegetables, and stir to combine (vegetables should be covered in tomato mixture). Return pan to oven, and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until flavors are concentrated and vegetable mixture is very tender, 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes (add up to 2 cups water as needed throughout cook time so vegetables stay just covered in liquid).

Step 4    

Transfer half of the vegetable mixture to a blender, and blend on medium speed to a coarse puree, 3 to 5 seconds; return to pan. Alternatively, use an immersion blender to blend soup in Dutch oven to desired consistency. Adjust the consistency with additional water, as desired. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with a lemon wedges and bread for dunking.

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