Friday, February 17, 2012

A Month of Soups: Vegetable Soup

This time you get two recipes, because to make the vegetable soup you need a good veggie broth. So here’s what I like to do. And both are vegetarian, a bonus for some of our friends. Of course, you could use good quality store-bought vegetable broth, but where’s the fun in that?

When you are preparing vegetables for other meals, you may dispose of the ends of asparagus, green onion ends, herb stems, carrot and potato peelings, corn cobs, eggplant ends, bell pepper ends and seeds, and the like. DON’T DO THAT! Instead, designate a gallon-size freezer zipper bag and put such like in it. You can also add those dribs and drabs of veggies left from dinner--three green beans, ¼ cup of peas, and so on. Don’t throw anything like that away again.

When you are ready to make veggie broth, add these to the broth. All chunks are removed when it is strained. But the more variety you have, the richer the broth tastes.

The reason for rough-chopping veggies is to expose more surfaces to the liquid. Whole carrots will not disperse as much flavor as chopped ones.

Vegetable Broth (makes ~2 qts)

1 gal water

whole bunch of celery, rough chopped, both ends included

6 large carrots, rough-chopped

5 parsnips, rough-chopped

3 onions, rough-chopped

5 cloves garlic, lightly crushed, skins on

2 bell peppers, rough-chopped, seeds and all

5 tomatoes, rough-chopped

+ any veggie choppings/skins/chunks in your freezer

2 bay leaves

2 T mixed peppercorns

1 cinnamon stick

bunch of parsley, chopped

6 sprigs thyme, chopped

Wash any raw veggies as usual, but there is no need to trim them. All skins and root ends will be strained out and discarded.

Add everything to the water and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for one hour. Strain out all chunks. Cool and store in refrigerator or freezer. How easy is that?

To make the soup-du-jour, you will need 2 quarts of that broth. This is a dense soup, almost a meatless stew. Serve with a wonderful dense bread like ciabatta or beer bread.

Spring Vegetable Soup (serves 10-12)

1 c carrot coins

½ c celery

1 T olive oil

2 qts vegetable stock, divided

½ head of cabbage, rough-chopped

1 c kale, rough-chopped

2 cans cut tomatoes, seasoned

1 c spring pea pods

1 c bean sprouts

½ green onions, chopped

1 T fresh basil (or 1 t dried)

Several sprigs of parsley for garnish

Over medium-high heat, sauté carrots and celery in olive oil in the pot you’re using for the soup. Cook for about 3 minutes or until there is a slight bite of browning. Add ½ cup vegetable broth to deglaze the pan. Then add remaining broth. Stir.

Add cabbage, kale, and tomatoes. Cook until cabbage is softened. Add pea pods, sprouts, and onions. Lower heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in basil. Serve with parsley on top.

DH’s Rating: 4 Tongues Up. Tasty, but he thought it would benefit from some protein source. I offered tofu. He declined.

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