Here's one easy, creamy soup, which I got from my friend Larry Gonick.
I haven't tried this, but I think a vegan version with coconut milk would work just fine. I usually use 1%. When you have tasty vegetables, you don't need a lot of butterfat to make the soup good.
3 large leeks, white parts only, chopped
2 pounds winter squash, peeled and cubed
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
½ cup milk or cream
salt and pepper
Heat the olive oil in a heavy saucepan. Add the leeks and sauté gently 3 or 4 minutes until they soften. Don’t let them brown. Add the cubed squash, stir to coat with oil, and sauté another minute or two. Add stock, bring to boil, and then simmer, covered, until squash is soft.
Purée mixture. Then add the milk or cream and simmer 5 minutes to blend flavors. Stir in salt and pepper to taste, sprinkle with grated nutmeg, and serve hot.
And here is another, not creamy, and really best with meat stock and/or lard
This is adapted from Elizabeth David’s book of Mediterranean food, a great sourcebook of traditional recipes (with traditionally vague measurements). You may substitute olive oil for the lard; it won’t taste the same, but it will be good. This soup has a robust flavor, as you’d expect, and with good bread and a salad, it makes a complete meal.
1/4 cup lard or olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 pound pumpkin, peeled and cubed
1 medium cabbage, sliced
1/2 pound dried haricot beans or navy beans, soaked overnight and drained
2 cloves garlic, sliced
2 quarts stock or water
salt and pepper
Heat lard or olive oil in a large, heavy saucepan or soup pot. Add onion and brown. Add pumpkin, cabbage, beans, and garlic and cook briefly, stirring to coat the vegetables with oil.
Add stock or water, salt, and pepper, and bring to a boil. Lower heat to simmer and cook gently, covered, until beans are tender, about 2 hours. Adjust seasoning before serving.
And here's my basic vegetable stock, from the book, along with the reason I forced myself to actually write it down.
I’ve made some not-tasty vegetable stock in my time. I used to figure that pretty much any garden leftovers, plus some onion, would make a good broth. I was wrong. The wrong flavor balance can ruin the soup, especially soups designed to highlight mild vegetable flavors. Now that decent vegetable broth and vegetable bouillon mixtures are widely available, it’s not necessary to make your own. However, every garden produces vegetables that are too grungy to serve up on their own but are ready to give their flavors to the pot. Here’s a good basic combo. The lentils add a bit of depth that I like, especially in vegan dishes. Leave them out if you want a clearer, lighter stock. This freezes well, so make lots when the mood and the ingredients coincide
An onion, roughly chopped. (I don’t peel it. The skin adds color).
2 medium leeks, white part only, chopped
2 cups of chopped garden greens. Chard and beet greens are good choices, lettuce is another possibility. Avoid the cabbage family except for maybe a bit of kale
A handful of parsley
A bay leaf
2 celery sticks or ½ cup chopped celeriac (optional)
1/3 cup lentils
8 cups of water
Put all ingredients and the water in a large saucepan, bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer about 40 minutes. Strain, pushing the vegetables against the sides to collect those last bits of flavor. You can add salt to taste or wait and salt the soup when it’s made.