Roasted Vegetable Soup
Here’s a recipe that comes along just in time to help warm us as October’s chilly temperatures signal that the fall season is here. Fernando Sanchez, a long-time member of Melissa’s Procurement Team, submits his family’s vegetable soup recipe using many items from Melissa’s pantry of fresh products. However, for Fernando, this dish represents a whole lot more than just a pot of soup.
“We grew up on soups during the colder months of the year. This soup is a family recipe that I usually serve with something quick and easy off the grill,” Fernando said. “To some, a vegetable soup does not sound so interesting, but what I love about it is the way everyone in our family comes together as the soup ingredients do the same when simmered and the aroma permeates the kitchen. It becomes a kind of centerpiece while we tell stories and reminisce about memories that usually start with ‘Remember when…’ So, for me, that’s the secret ingredient that gives this vegetable soup such an amazing taste. Even though it doesn’t always come out as planned, it is always delicious because of the family.”
What a tasty collection of fresh ingredients! This was my kind of recipe as there is so much “stuff” to slice and dice that preparation definitely required two favorite culinary tools: music turned up loud and a glass of vino. During prep, it was also fun trying to figure out which ingredient would become the dominant component. At first, I thought this would lean toward being a butternut squash soup; then, I thought that maybe the large amount of carrots, bell peppers, or tomatoes would take over. Never judge a dish before tasting it, grasshopper! The flavors came together as one cohesive, well-balanced, very hearty veggie soup. Yet, each component made a standalone appearance on the palate, so to speak, as I enjoyed my first serving.
This dual characteristic of being both a bowl of ingredients I could identify and the sum total of its parts took a while to figure out, but I did have a whole pot of soup to ponder over! What I came up with, after several tastings, was simmer time, or, more correctly, the lack of simmer time. The unique flavor of each vegetable is literally roasted into it during the recipe’s first stop in a 400° oven. Those flavors are not cooked away in an all-day soup simmer but rather kept fresh with two very short 15-minute cooks that meld the flavors without muddling them into anonymity. Great dish, Fernando; thank you for sharing.
Fernando Sanchez has been on Melissa’s team for some 23 years now. He has held many positions in this business of perishable produce, working his way up to his current role as a Senior Buyer.
“Imagine going to a grocery store and seeing all those fresh fruits and vegetables neatly displayed – well, I'm the one responsible for selecting and sourcing those products,” Fernando stated and then explained. “I work closely with local farmers, distributors, and even international suppliers. My days are a mix of analyzing market trends, negotiating prices, and building relationships with suppliers. That means keeping a keen eye on seasonal changes, weather patterns, and global events that might affect the availability and prices of produce.”
That all sounds like an interesting and rewarding job. However, anyone in the perishable produce industry can attest to the daily unplanned surprises, constant adjustments to a “Plan A,” and the inherent demands of a business that operates 24/7 on the people who live it.
“The produce market can be highly sensitive to weather, geopolitical events, and economic factors. Navigating price fluctuations and ensuring consistent supply during these challenges can be demanding. Coordinating the transportation and delivery requires careful planning. Negotiating prices and terms with suppliers while maintaining a fair and profitable relationship can be tough. It's a balance between getting the best deal and nurturing partnerships. The produce industry is fast-paced, especially during the peak seasons. Managing multiple tasks, making decisions on the fly, and adapting to unexpected changes can be mentally and emotionally demanding.”
To that end, outside of the office, Fernando likes to stay outside – literally. That is, outdoor experiences truly define the Sanchez Family. They consider weekends made for adventures that build memories.
“The exhilaration of riding our UTV through rugged mountains and serene deserts adds an adrenaline rush to our lives, reminding us of the beauty of nature's untouched landscapes. Hiking, whether through dense forests or along scenic trails, rejuvenates our souls and reconnects us with the simplicity of life. Lakes, rivers, and beaches become our sanctuaries, offering moments of tranquility and joy. Concerts under the open sky let us immerse ourselves in the magic of live music, forging unforgettable memories. And shared dinners with friends infuse our lives with laughter, stories, and the warmth of human connection. Through these experiences, the Sanchez Family thrives, woven together by a love for nature, adventure, and cherished moments spent with each other and our loved ones.”
Sort of like a good pot soup! Thanks for sharing!
Roasted Vegetable Soup
4 Cipolline onions, diced
2 bell peppers (red, yellow, or orange), diced
2 cups Melissa's baby carrots, chopped
2 pkgs. Melissa's Peeled & Steamed Butternut Squash
3 tablespoons Melissa’s Minced Garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 cups vegetable broth
6 tomatoes, diced
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh Italian parsley, chopped (for garnish)
In a large bowl, toss the Cipolline onion, bell peppers, baby carrots, and butternut squash with the minced garlic and olive oil until well coated.
Spread out the vegetables in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roast for about 25-30 minutes @ 400°F or until they are tender and slightly caramelized.
While the vegetables are roasting, heat up the vegetable broth in a large pot over medium to not quite a boil. Then add the diced tomatoes, fresh herbs thyme, and S & P to taste. Simmer for about 10-15 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.
Once the roasted vegetables are done, add them to the simmering broth. Stir everything together and let the soup simmer for an additional 10-15 minutes, allowing the flavors to blend. Adjust S & P to taste.
Plating: Before serving remove the bay leaf from the soup. Ladle into bowls garnished with parsley, for a burst of freshness, and a hearty bread to soak up every drop!