When I lived in France, you could buy a huge array of different kinds of soups in a box. They were always lots of different kinds of vegetables that they'd blended together. They were called "Velouté" - meaning "velvety". And that's exactly how they tasted. I ate these soups ALL THE TIME. When I moved in with my nanny family, I found out real French people scoff at these boxed soups because they've have an "industrial" flavor, but the way French people make and eat soups has completely changed my appreciation and creation of the "velouté".
One essential item in my kitchen is my immersion blender. You cannot make velouté without an immersion blender. I was able to get one with some gift cards left over from our wedding, and though it was a bit pricey, I do not regret it one bit. (The one pictured below is Cuisinart, and come with 2 different attachments, a blending container, AND a mini food processor. I have this one, and it's pretty amazing.)
Today, I made a potato-leek soup. Now, one thing to know about me is I hate measuring ingredients, and I love seeing what is in my fridge and figuring out what I can make with it. I had about 5 potatoes, some leftover chicken broth (which by the way I got by boiling the rest of our Costco rotisserie chicken one night, and stuck it in the freezer), and some sautéed leeks (I could write a whole post how much I love leeks too...) that had been in my fridge for a couple of days.
I chopped the potatoes into small cubes, poured in the chicken broth (just enough to cover the potatoes, added my leeks (about 1 1/2 large leeks, sliced and sauteed in butter, salt and pepper), and let it sit at a low boil for about 25 minutes.
Next, once the potatoes were tender, I smashed some with a potato masher just to break them up a little bit. Then, I took my immersion blender, immersed, and let it spin. This is a magical moment when chunks of potatoes and slices of leeks come together in a perfect, velvety soup. And at this point there isn't even any cream or cheese! It's amazing. You could stop here, add some seasoning (salt, pepper, parsley), and eat (if you're worried about calories). I turn my heat low, add some milk (probably about 1/2 cup), and a heaping spoonful of sour cream (you could use real cream too, and I bet plain yogurt would work just as well) to make it just a little bit creamier. And then... YOU'RE DONE. You can serve with or without some shredded cheese on top, sprinkle little parsley for looks, and you're good. A delicious, velvety soup, à la française. VOILA.
(this isn't a very good picture, but I promise, this soup is SO GOOD.)