I don’t know that I’ve ever been prepared for Christmas this early. I picked up some wonderful, vintage Christmas books at a local thrift store with old timey illustrations, removed their staples, and used them to adorn my presents. Everything is wrapped and ribboned. This leaves plenty of time for sitting by the tree, which is the first non-plastic one I’ve had in my adult life. My husband and I play tunes and watch the twinkling lights and revel in the season. Maybe best of all, there’s no white Christmas in sight. I’m no Scrooge. There was a time when I thought the shiny lights could only be made prettier with a blanket of snow outside. But now, I think there’s nothing lovelier than a December day in an open coat, no scarf, no gloves, and no hat. But what about riding down the hill in a sled? What about hot cocoa on a cold, winter’s day? What about building a snowman?
Oh, no worries about that. I’ve built a snowman… I peeled his body of potatoes, gathered a hat of red bell pepper, a scarf of cilantro, eyes of cloves, and a tongue of sun-dried tomato. After he was standing tall and proud, I basked in the reflection of the thermometer reading nearly fifty degrees and readied the snowman for Melted Snowman Soup.
While children may be the predominant audience for building your classic snowman, this Melted Snowman Soup is geared towards adults. It’s a creamy soup with the round flavors of roasted garlic and vermouth. Still, you can appeal to the child in all of us by dressing it up with a carrot nose and two eyes made out of olives. For the mouth, a sun-dried tomato works beautifully since it can easily be shaped into a frown. (Out of sun-dried tomatoes? A sliced red bell pepper also works.) Add buttons of green peas or pistachios, and even arms of rosemary sprigs, if you please. Mmm, I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed the snow so much…
Melted Snowman Soup
- 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil + a little extra for roasting garlic
- 1 head garlic
- ½ medium-sized yellow onion, chopped small
- 3 Tbsp extra dry vermouth
- 2 cups water or vegetable broth*
- 4 small to medium-sized russet potatoes (~3 ½ cups), peeled and diced into medium-sized pieces
- ¼ tsp smoked salt
- Salt, to taste
- 2 black olives, sliced (eyes and eyebrows)
- 2 small pieces of a carrot, sliced into triangular shape (nose)
- 1 sun-dried tomato, sliced (mouth)
- 6-8 green peas, steamed (buttons)
- 4 Rosemary sprigs (arms – optional)
Start by roasting the garlic. (For a recent post on the how to’s of roasting garlic, click here.) Preheat the oven to 380 degrees. Separate the garlic head into cloves and remove skin from them. Put them in a small covered container with a light drizzling of extra virgin olive oil. Cover the garlic and roast it for 30 minutes, stopping once to stir it. Once the garlic is fully roasted, set it aside to use later in the recipe.
Heat one teaspoon extra virgin olive oil in a soup pot on medium heat. Add onions to the pot and sauté until translucent and fragrant (about 5-6 minutes). Add vermouth to the pot to deglaze it. Once the pot is deglazed, add water or vegetable broth and potatoes. Bring the liquid to a boil and then lower the heat to simmer, and partially cover the pot with a lid. Cook the potatoes until they are tender and easy to pierce with a fork (about 15 minutes). Add roasted garlic to the soup and blend with an immersion blender. (Because of the relatively small amount of liquid, you may have to tip the pot to blend fully.) Stir in smoked salt and salt to taste. Decorate soup with olives, carrot, sun-dried tomato, peas, and rosemary sprigs (if using) and serve.
*Note that vegetable broth may slightly darken the soup, depending on the brand and strength, which may give it a little less of a snow-like appearance.