By Karen Gaudette Brewer

What separates good soup from great? Quality ingredients and attention to detail. One easy way to make your soup sing is to oven-roast root vegetables, peppers, celery, mushrooms, and other ingredients before combining with stock. It doesn't take that much longer, and you'll be glad you did when you taste the results.

Photo by Karen Gaudette

1. Prep your vegetables and preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Keep in mind that to get everything roasted and fragrant in the same amount of time you'll want to cube firmer vegetables (sweet potatoes, carrots, celery root, rutabaga) into smaller cubes and leave the more delicate vegetables (such as peppers and mushrooms) in larger pieces. I use a jelly roll pan (the kind of baking sheet with an upturned rim) to keep my vegetables in place, but a cookie sheet will do in a pinch. For easy cleanup, line the pan with parchment paper. For even deeper flavor, go without and use a bit of stock to deglaze the crispy bits from your baking pan into your soup pot later on. But I'm getting ahead of myself...

2. Roast your vegetables for 30 minutes or until you can easily pierce each variety of ingredient. Check every 10 minutes or so to avoid burning. Some cranky ovens have hot spots and if that's the case in your kitchen, be sure to rotate the pan regularly.

Roasted Vegetables -- Done

3. Combine with the rest of your ingredients, the simmer on. Soon, you'll be slurping your soup, wondering why you didn't try this sooner. My husband and I are trying to eat vegetarian a few nights each week, and roasting the vegetables adds a depth of flavor that makes us not even miss the meat.

Photo by Karen Gaudette

Another #Protip for more flavorful minestrone, bean, and/or vegetable soup: Add a Parmesan cheese rind during the simmering phase of your soup making. It will release its umami goodness and make your soup all the more fetching. Check back for additional souper tips (see what I did there?). And happy cooking!

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