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.

One Year Ago Today: Tomato Coconut Rice

Two Years Ago Today: Old-Fashioned Blackberry Pudding

You might also enjoy these recipes
Chunky Tomato Vegetable Soup - Seriously Soupy
Chicken Vegetable Soup - Delicious Obsessions
Chunky Vegetable Soup - Amy Bites
Tuscan Vegetable Soup - No Fear Entertaining
Rustic Vegetable Soup - Verses from My Kitchen

This post is being linked to Foodie Friday # 8 at the Little Brick Ranch


Jenna Lee said...

looks healthy and delicious! I'm a soup girl at heart. I could eat soup for every meal and be happy and content! But that would mean they would have to make a brownie soup... so maybe not!

Reshmi Mahesh said...

Warm and delicious soup

Cooking Gallery said...

This looks delicious! I almost thought that it's soup with meatballs, then I noticed that it's a vegetable soup ;). Have a great weekend, Mary!

Carol @ There's Always Thyme to Cook said...

Soup looks delicious. I love soup any time of year!
Have a great weekend!

Young Adventures... said...

It's gray and cloudy here as well Mary. Our daughter loves soup and could eat it everyday. Your recipe sounds perfect for a cool spring day. I love your photos of the outdoors, they are beautiful! We decided on fondue for dinner to warm us up tonight. I hope the sun comes out for you this weekend.

Tasha said...

Spring-like weahter is already a distant memory for us, and it been blazing hot for a while. Even so, I'd still enjoy a bowl of this delicous sounding soup!

StephenC said...

Yes, blogger is back! I am a soup fanatic. Made one today: fennel, potato, onion, broth. Nice cool weather in DC, so soup is still a good option.

Eileen said...

It sounds perfect for a gray day like this. We're not covered in fog but it's overcast and cool. I had to laugh at your opening lines. Hope you have a good weekend. :)

Patricia @ ButterYum said...

No reason needed - we've had pretty nice weather here on the east coast and I enjoyed soup for lunch yesterday and today! Despite being a person who craves bright sunshine, I really love the way fog plays with the scenery - some of my favorite photos were taken in the fog.

Have a great weekend!

June said...

Wonderful warming soup Mary. I'm sure you're tired of the rain and fog but your pictures look amazingly beautiful to me - a moisture starved "DD" (desert dweller).

Three-Cookies said...

The soup looks hearty and flavourful. When you wrote "Let there be light" I thought it was going to be in reference to blogger coming back to life:)

Swathi said...

Spring vegetable soup looks awesome, i am fan of mixed vegetables in soup.

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

Looks like your spring soup would warm up even the foggiest day!

Anonymous said...

This looks like a tasty warm soup especially since this spring weather is dropping again in Chicago.

Ginny Hartzler said...

I love soup even in the summer! And I just love your eerily beautiful fog photos.

janet @ the taste space said...

Something about hearty soups screams winter, but sometimes that is just what you need for the rainy or foggy spring. Thanks for the kind words you left on my blog :)

Anonymous said...

What a lovely soup and I agree, it's perfect for a wet, foggy day. The flavors sound delicious. Wonderful recipe

Joanne said...

I do so love all of the components in this! It screams healthy delicious!

~~louise~~ said...

That is an eerie landscape, Mary. Beautiful Soup..."Soup Of The Evening" indeed...Sending lots of sunshine your way Mary.

Thank you so much for sharing...

Claudia said...

I was thinking today how the rain and the chill called for soup but I didn't want winter soup - spring soup - you nailed it.

Sue said...

Sounds delicious! Hope the sun comes shining through SOON!

The Harried Cook said...

Yummy! I love soup and I am always looking for new soup recipes for my daughter and myself... Now, if only I could get my husband to eat soup too! :) LOL

Liz That Skinny Chick Can Bake said...

Laughing over your creation comment! Hubby and I are in Chicago for the weekend and we've yet to see the sun...and it's darn chilly! Now on to your soup...after some record heat, we're going to be cold this week...and a bowl of your delicious soup would be perfect.

Joe Ambrosino said...

Ah Mary! You should have been an Italian.

Unknown said...

LOL! I feel like that about Ohio sometimes! Oh well. More soup and warm bread for us!

Cooking Creation said...

I eat soup every day for lunch and am always on the lookout for a new recipe. Vegetable soup is my favorite and I cannot wait to try this one! :)

Elaine said...

It is so interesting the weather we have had this Spring. It is raining today with a heavy pouring of hail earlier. So different from Florida where I was a few days ago - 90 and 50 plus percent humidity! Your soup looks so delicious and perfect for unexpected winter days such as this one.

That Girl said...

The bonus of overcast weather is it makes for gorgeous pictures.

Unknown said...

Great use of fennel. Soup looks like a must eat.

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