On Saturday afternoon I went to a party that had a great theme: Liquid Lunch. What that means is that everyone brings a pot of soup and a bottle of wine! There were crock-pots all over the kitchen, plus regular pots on every burner on the stove, and some just on trivets. The hosts supplied bread and crackers and cheese and other go-alongs. There were disposable coffee cups and spoons all around so you could sample as many soups as you wanted. Plus wine glasses, of course! It was such a fun and seemingly easy way to entertain—open-house style, so people were coming and going all afternoon. I may have to steal the idea for myself sometime.
I made chicken noodle soup (aka "Jewish penicillin"), which is always a crowd pleaser. But my second choice would have been my new favorite create-your-own puréed root vegetable soup from Melissa Clark. I made it during our one snowstorm of the year so far, and it came out great. I used 1 pound of carrots, 1 pound of parsnips, and 1½ pounds of celery root (which I'd never used before). You could use turnips, sweet potatoes, rutabaga, whatever you want. You're supposed to serve the soup garnished with lemon juice, olive oil, chile flakes, Parmesan, and so on, but I am a purist (read: lazy) and did not do any of those things.
This recipe couldn't be easier, and it's a good enough reason to buy an immersion blender if you've been putting it off. But if you really don't want to, you can use a countertop blender and purée the soup in batches—just be sure to remove the plug in the middle of the lid and hold a towel over the hole while you blend so the steam can escape. (I'm always adding that note to puréed hot soup/sauce recipes in cookbooks I'm editing—if you don't do it, you risk the lid blowing off from the pressure and the contents of the blender flying everywhere.)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large onion, chopped
2 or 3 celery stalks, diced
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 rosemary or thyme branches
2 bay leaves
3½ pounds mixed root vegetables, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
8 cups water
2 teaspoons fine sea salt, or more as needed
½ teaspoon black pepper, or more as needed
Melt the butter in a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Stir in the onion and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic, herb branches, and bay leaves and cook for 1 minute more. Add the root vegetables, water, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, cover, and simmer until the vegetables are tender, 30 to 40 minutes.
Discard the herb branches and bay leaves. Using an immersion blender, purée the soup until smooth. If the soup is too thick, add a little water. Season with more salt and pepper if needed and serve.