Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Vegetable soup

We find ourselves with miscellaneous veggies in the fridge - not enough to do anything with on their own, but enough for a nice soup.

Bear in mind that there are a bunch more veggies you could use; the idea here is to use up leftovers. Mine came mostly from a crudite platter I made for a New Year's Day open house. I will confess a guilty pleasure: I made that retro French onion soup and sour cream dip from the 50's (or maybe even 40's). Guess what - our guests loved it and ate it all.

Some other things you could use for this soup: bell pepper, fennel bulb, green beans, canned beans, mushrooms of various kinds. The list may not be endless, but it is extensive.

Note that my proportion of liquid to vegetation is 1 for 1 - 1 cup liquid for each cup veg.

A word about water versus broth: a number of chefs on TV will use just water. For me that's bland. I usually use all broth. But, this time I went 1/2 and 1/2. I like the result. Some richness and flavor from the broth - freshness from the water.

Vegetable soup
1 tbsp olive oil
approximately 1 cup each: carrot, onion, celery, peeled broccoli stem*
6 dry shiitake mushrooms, reconstituted and slice (stems removed)
2 large cloves garlic, peeled and smashed slightly
salt and pepper
1 medium red potato, 1/2" dice
14 oz. can chicken broth
14 oz. water
2 bay leaves
pinch red pepper flakes
lemon juice
grated parmesan cheese (optional)
celery salt (optional)
1 tbsp butter (optional)
croutons (optional)

Cut all the veggies to an even dice - 1/2" is good.
Heat the olive oil in a soup pot. Add the veggies (except potato) and sweat for 5-6 minutes, seasoning with some salt and pepper. (Do your final seasoning later in the game to avoid over-salting.)

Add the potato and the liquids and the bay leaves. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for 25-30 minutes, just until the potatoes and carrots are softened to your liking.

Prepare the soup to this point, cool completely and refrigerate for a day or two if desired. If your going to eat it right away, toss in the broccoli florets (and any leafy vegetation you may plan to use) just before serving. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary. I added a bit of celery salt and red pepper flakes at serving time. Then, after serving into bowls, sprinkled a bit of lemon juice into it. I skipped the butter, but only on a momentary whim. Suit yourself.

*If using broccoli florets, I would add them to the soup just before serving.

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