Friday, May 13, 2011
Spring Vegetable Soup
From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...Then God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. Except in Oregon. Dense fog has swallowed the ridgeline that's normally seen from the kitchen windows and only patches of green are bright enough to poke through it. It's an eerie way to begin the day. I usually don't think of making soup at this time of year, but Spring here has been cold and wet and our days have been slow to warm. A light, but steamy, soup will help thaw the chill brought in from the garden and slowly warm both body and and soul. I wish I had a romantic tale to tell about this minestra, but, truth be told, it's usually made from remnants left in the vegetable crisper. It is a much lighter version of the minestrone I make in the winter and the ingredients vary depending on what I happen to have in the house when I prepare it. It does share some elements with its winter cousin. I always use a good olive oil to cook the aromatics which are the foundation of the soup and I try to limit the amount of liquid I use in its preparation. I also try to use the same quantity of each vegetable when I make it. The size of the vegetables that go into the soup is important and it helps to select ones that cook in approximately the same time. It's probably a holdover from my love of Asian cooking, but I aim to serve the soup while the vegetables are still crisp tender. I also cook the pasta separately and add it to the soup just before serving to keep it from absorbing and clouding the soup stock. I make this soup in small quantities because I don't care for it reheated. You can, of course, double or triple all the quantities if you have a gang to feed. To add a bit of richness to the soup, drizzle it with olive oil just before serving and pass grated cheese at the table. This is a simple but very satisfying soup. There is nothing not to like here. Here's the recipe.
Spring Vegetable Soup...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
1 small fennel bulb, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 small leek, white and pale green parts only, halved lengthwise, thoroughly rinsed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3 cloves minced garlic
Freshly ground black pepper
4 cups canned chicken broth or vegetable broth (optional) or water
1 cup canned tomato sauce or tomato juice
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1 large sprig fresh parsley
1/4 cup yellow summer squash, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/4 cup zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/4 cup celery, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/4 cup green beans, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 cup yellow wax beans, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 cup red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 cup quartered mushrooms
1/3 cup uncooked ditalini pasta or other small dried pasta tubes
Basil leaves for garnish (optional)
1) Heat olive oil in a medium-sized pot over medium heat.
2) Add onion, fennel, leeks, and garlic and saute, stirring frequently, until they begin to soften but not yet color, about 5 minutes. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
3) Stir in the broth, tomato sauce, basil and parsley sprigs. Bring the mixture to a simmer.
4) Stir in squash, zucchini, celery, green beans, wax beans, bell pepper, and mushrooms. Simmer until vegetables are crisp tender, about 10 minutes.
5) Meanwhile, in another pot, bring salted water to a boil over high heat.
6) Add pasta to pot of boiling salted water. Cook until al dente, tender following manufacturer's suggested cooking time. Drain well and set aside.
7) When soup vegetables are done, remove parsley and stir in cooked pasta. Adjust seasonings to taste with more salt and pepper and a little sugar.To serve, ladle soup into individual bowls. Garnish each bowl with a drizzle of olive oil and some torn fresh basil leaves.Yield: 3 to 4 servings.
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Chunky Tomato Vegetable Soup - Seriously Soupy
Chicken Vegetable Soup - Delicious Obsessions
Chunky Vegetable Soup - Amy Bites
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Rustic Vegetable Soup - Verses from My Kitchen
This post is being linked to Foodie Friday # 8 at the Little Brick Ranch