If you have some vegetables nearing the end of their shelf life, cook 'em and blend 'em.
Roasted Carrot Soup with Fresh Cheese and Black Bread Recipe
Credit: Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Chelsea Zimmer / Prop Styling by Christine Keely

It's about six weeks deep into the shelter-in-place measures that locked down New York City to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and I've settled into something of a cooking routine. Some days I have a lot of energy, and I'll make a fancy woven lasagna, or scallion pancakes, or some other meal that's as much a fun project to make as it is dinner. But every three days or so, I'll be too overwhelmed and anxious to do more than gather cheese and crackers, or eat a spoonful of peanut butter from the jar for "lunch." Somewhere in the course of the last few endless weeks, I started relying heavily on my blender for those days.

Why a blender? Because if you have vegetables kicking around in your refrigerator that are nearing the end of their lifespan, they can easily be turned into soup. This Lithuanian roasted carrot soup has some delicious accessories—the Baltic bread and fresh cheese curds—but at its heart, it's just a simple, delicious blender soup. You roast the carrots, saute some onion, add some broth, and throw the whole thing in the blender. Voila: soup. 

Tomato Soup with Iberico Ham
This soup uses no broth or water; tomatoes form the entire base. Crispy ham and fresh mint offset the acidic sweetness of those tomatoes. If you cannot find rosa de Barbastro tomatoes, use the juiciest, ripest tomatoes at the market.
| Credit: Victor Protasio

This recipe has cumin and caraway seeds, plus sour cream, to add some warm spiciness and a little luscious dairy to the mixture. But the basic format works really well with many vegetables. Leeks, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, potatoes, parsnips, turnips—all of those make great soup. (In fact we have a whole list of blender soup recipes, depending on what you have on hand.) Just cook them first, saute some aromatics, throw it in the blender with some seasoning and stock, and you have soup. It's easy, it's fast, and it pairs well with that loaf of sourdough you might have made the other day. (Or if you have bread that's going stale: Croutons!) In the summer, it's a handy trick too, to make cold soups like gazpacho without turning on the oven. 

If you don't have a countertop blender, an immersion blender will work too, just transfer everything to a big pot and blend in there. And if you happen to have a fancy blender like a Vitamix, I have extra good news: If you blend the vegetables at the highest setting, it'll sufficiently warm the soup that you can pour it straight from the blender into a bowl and eat it. If you have the energy and the supplies, top it with some herbs, or maybe a dollop of sour cream or goat cheese. If you don't, drink it from a mug, that works too. If you have more soup than you can eat now, it freezes really well, too, and in the future, exhausted you will be delighted to find a container ready to just defrost, heat, and eat.