Creamy Vegetable Soup

It’s that time of year when soup sounds like a really good idea. I made a tasty vegetarian soup for Steve and thought I’d write it down to share with others. It’s a pretty flexible recipe. I just use whatever odd veggies I happen to have on hand.

Creamy Vegetable Soup

Ingredients:
1 large onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 leek, chopped, white part only
1-2 carrots, peeled and diced
2-3 stalks celery, chopped
3 large potatoes, peeled and diced
1 zucchini, diced
1 bunch broccoli, chopped
water, vegetable broth, or some combination of both * see note below
2 tablespoons butter or olive oil (leave out for a fat free soup)
salt
pepper
1-2 bay leaves

Alternate veggies to add to your soup:
Yellow squash, diced
Parsnip, peeled and diced
Turnip, peeled and diced
Cauliflower, chopped
Corn kernels, fresh or frozen
Sweet potato, peel and diced
Winter squash, peeled and diced
Peas, frozen
Fresh chopped Swiss Chard or Spinach added at the very end shortly before pureeing so you don’t overcook it. If using Swiss Chard, do not include the rib, just the leafy part.

Optional ingredients for a creamier tasting soup:
Milk, heavy cream, yogurt, or sour cream…
We usually bring a container of sour cream to the table, and my family members will add a dollop of sour cream to the bowl if they wish to. Alternately, you could add a bit of heavy cream or milk before you puree the soup with the immersion blender.

Directions:
1) Fill a large soup pot with your chopped vegetables. Add just enough water/vegetable broth to cover your veggies.
2) Add your butter or oil, salt, and pepper and stir.
3) Add your bay leaves to the pot. I try to make sure the leaves are at the top where I can keep an eye on them so I can easily pull them out before blending.
4) Bring soup to a boil.
5) Once the soup is boiling, cover the pot with lid and reduce heat to a simmer.
6) Simmer soup for 10-15 minutes until all the veggies are cooked through.
7) Fish out and discard your bay leaves.
8) Using an immersion blender, puree soup to desire consistency. I purposely leave a few large chunks in my soup. If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can carefully pour the soup into a blender and puree in batches until you reach the desired consistency of your soup.

*Note about liquid: I usually use water and then add a few tablespoons of Vegetable Better than Bullion Base. You can use just water, but broth will make a more flavorful soup. I find that it isn’t necessary to use ALL veggie broth for the liquid since there are so many vegetable being used already.

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Another vegetarian soup recipe

Earlier this week, I had a nice conversation with my mother about food. One of the foods she happened to mention was “minest,” or what seems to be more commonly known in the cooking blog world as “minestra.” I haven’t had “minest” in years and years, but as soon as she said the word, I practically started drooling. I have fond memories of sitting in my grandparents’ kitchen, waiting for my grandfather to serve up that steaming bowl of soup for lunch. Lots of parmesan cheese for me, please!

When I asked, my mom listed off the various ingredients she uses when she makes her minest…ham bone to flavor the broth, chopped smoked sausage, assorted greens such as collard greens or endive, etc. As my mother described how she makes her soup, I felt I could practically taste it over the phone, and I couldn’t wait to make my own pot soon. However, Steve is both a vegetarian and my big soup eater in the house, so I knew if I made the minestra exactly as mom suggested, he would miss out. So I tried to think of ways to tweak the recipe so that the soup would both recall those childhood memories of mine and still be vegetarian fare.

Below is the recipe for my first attempt. I swapped out the meat-based broth for veggie broth, of course, and traded out the bits of meat for white beans. For greens I went with dandelion greens because there was a huge, beautiful bunch of them at the grocery store, and escarole because it looked good too. Next time I might try kale and bok choy.

The soup got a thumbs up from three out of four family members. Tobin wouldn’t touch it as the only soup he’ll eat is miso.

Vegetarian Minestra recipe

Ingredients:
Olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, sliced
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
32 ounces vegetable broth
1 can cannellini beans, well rinsed
1 can navy beans, well rinsed
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon thyme
½ teaspoon oregano
½ teaspoon basil
½ teaspoon parsley
¼ teaspoon rosemary
Dandelion leaves, well washed and roughly chopped
Escarole, well washed and roughly chopped
Parmesan cheese, grated

Directions:
1) Drizzle some olive oil in the bottom of a soup pot. Sauté onions, carrots, celery, and garlic in the oil for 2-3 minutes, stirring around to keep vegetables from burning.
2) Pour in vegetable broth.
3) Add both cans of rinsed beans and crush some of the beans against the side of the pot with a spoon. This will give a nice texture to your soup.
4) Add salt, pepper, thyme, oregano, basil, parsley, and rosemary. The amounts are just suggestions. Adjust to your particular tastes.
5) Bring soup to a boil and then turn down heat.
6) Shred dandelion leaves and escarole and add a bit at a time to the pot. If you are fond of greens, add lots of both. Cook until greens are softened.
7) Serve with grated parmesan cheese.

Notes:
1) If you can’t find dandelion or escarole, try other greens such as collard greens, kale, bok choy, etc.
2) For a more filling soup, cook up some small pasta such as ditalini, orzo, elbows, or acini di pepe and add to soup before serving.
3) Serve your soup with a nice salad and some crusty bread. Any leftover, raw greens will be great in the salad.

*Serves four.