By Betsy Peirce Produce Manager
It should come as no surprise that, along with the impending arrival of another winter, it is time for an article from me extolling the virtues of eating vegetables. Making soup is in fact an excellent (and economical) way to sneak vegetables in copious quantities into your diet. If you haven’t yet heard, January is National (vegetable – just kidding!) Soup Month. I still haven’t bothered to find out who made the decision to establish this tradition, and I doubt I ever will. It’s enough for me to know that when cold air starts a’ blowin’ our way, it’s a good opportunity to take my best shot at waxing eloquent about just how wonderful hot (vegetable) soup is.
So here goes: Soup is really good to eat (especially if it has vegetables in it!). You do not need to eat plain old vegetable soup per say, but add as many veggies as your pot can hold to your chicken soup or beef stew. And, don’t be afraid to branch out into territories unfamiliar: fennel bulb, beets, greens, fresh herbs, squash, cabbage, green beans, eggplant celeriac (instead of celery), or any root vegetable for that matter. The list could go on for as long as I have time to type. Here is my basic premise, if it grew in the ground somewhere it is fair game for your kettle.
At any rate, since I’ve already exhausted my ordinarily vast (ahem) reservoir of eloquence regarding soup (and the newsletter deadline is looming), just play along and pretend that I’ve written another four or five paragraphs talking about how wonderful and beautiful and delicious (have I mentioned vegetable?) soup is on a cold winter day, and we’ll get right to the recipes.
First of all, (vegetable!) soup is an excellent method of using up leftovers. You can throw in leftover baked potatoes and whah lah! You have baked potato soup. You can add carrots, celeriac, fennel, leeks, or even chicken or sausage to this soup and it would be just as excellent. You don’t even need to follow a recipe. As the pot grows add more broth or water and adjust seasonings (you may need more salt) See what you come up with. It’ll be fun!
Baked Potato Soup
2Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 large onion
3cloves garlic, minced
1 stalk celery
2Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. tarragon
Chopped fresh chives or green onions, sour cream, grated cheese.
Coat potatoes with vegetable oil, and bake at 375degrees for one hour. Chop onion, and sauté in olive oil until transparent, then add minced garlic. Dice baked potatoes into 1-inch cubes, leaving the skins on, and add to pot. Continue to sauté for another few minutes, allowing potatoes to brown. Add about two quarts water, and bring to a boil. Add chopped celery, carrots, salt, pepper, bay leaf, and tarragon. Cook until liquid reduces and thickens, about 30 to 45minutes. Top with chopped chives or green onions, cheese or sour cream, or all of the above, and serve.
This next soup incorporates many yummy ingredients- some of my favorites (especially the vegetables).
White Bean, Kale and Roasted Vegetable Soup
Bon Appétit | January 2000
Many dark, leafy greens, like kale, contain calcium. The beans have it, too.
Yield: Makes 6servings
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
3medium carrots, peeled, quartered lengthwise
2large tomatoes, quartered
1 large onion, cut into 8 wedges
1/2small butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick wedges
6garlic cloves, unpeeled
1 tablespoon olive oil
6cups (or more) canned vegetable broth
4cups finely chopped kale
3large fresh thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
1 15-ounce can Great Northern beans, drained
Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray rimmed baking sheet with oil spray. Arrange carrots, tomatoes, onion, squash and garlic on sheet. Drizzle with oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Bake until vegetables are brown and tender, stirring occasionally, about 45minutes.
Transfer carrots and squash to work surface. Cut into 1/2-inch pieces; set aside. Peel garlic cloves; place in processor. Add tomatoes and onion; puree until almost smooth. Pour 1/2cup broth onto baking sheet; scrape up any browned bits. Transfer broth and vegetable puree to large pot. Add 51/2cups broth, kale, thyme and bay leaf to pot; bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered until kale is tender, about 30 minutes.
Add beans and reserved carrots and squash to soup. Simmer 8 minutes to blend flavors, adding more broth to thin soup if necessary. Season with salt and pepper. Discard thyme sprigs and bay leaf. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Bring to simmer before serving.)
Nutritional informationPer serving: calories, 191; total fat, 4g; saturated fat, 0.5g; cholesterol, 0Nutritional analysis provided by Self