making essential: immersion blender

Now that it’s officially soup season, my immersion blender is in high rotation. I love how easy it is to puree a soup to smooth-as-silk, or just slightly chunky with a simple press of the button—and how much more streamlined the process is than if you were to transfer an entire pot of soup to a blender: There’s no worry that you’ll blow the lid off of the blender due to the heat from the soup, and an immersion blender is much easier to clean (a quick rinse under the faucet is really all it takes).

But the use for a stick blender reaches far past soup. Here are a few of the other ways that I use this essential for making delicious things in the kitchen:

Smoothies: The blender that we have is rather large, so making a one serving smoothie doesn’t always work (the volume isn’t high enough). But I recently tried making a smoothie with an immersion blender and the cup it came with (shown above) and it was infinitely easier. It even purées the leafy greens like spinach and kale that I often add to smoothies into submission when given enough time to do the job.

Applesauce: Folks are often intimidated by making applesauce at home, but it really is one of the simplest ways to preserve fruit. Fill a pot with chopped fruit, add a cup or two of water, and a sprinkle of cinnamon and let simmer until the fruit is softened. Puree to desired thickness with an immersion blender and voilà, the sauce is done (and much faster than if you let it cook down until the fruit was completely broken down).

Whipped Cream: An immersion blender does a great job of adding air to cream and can turn it into a fluffy pile of deliciousness in a matter of minutes.

Mayonnaise: I’ll never forget the first time I made homemade mayo. It was last summer and the egg and olive oil were transformed so quickly with my immersion blender that I seriously had a moment were I stood and stared. I never knew making this sandwich staple could be so easy. (Hint: this is a surefire way to impress friends…or make them think that you’ve gone into the DIY foodie deep end.)

Pesto: If you’ve been lucky enough to escape the frigid nighttime temps that have already reached us in the Midwest (thereby killing all but the hardiest herbs), make up a batch of pesto. Just be sure to add all of the olive oil to the container before trying to blend and move the immersion blender up and down in a mortar and pestle like motion.

What’s your favorite making essential?