Monday, July 25, 2005

Garden Soup

I've been on a soup kick for the past year now, and have tried numerous recipes. My favorite winter soup last year was Cheesy Poblano Rice Soup, a dish that ensures you will need a new sponge after scrubbing the cheese-rice-glue combo off the bottom of the pan. Thus far this summer though, soups haven't really been something I crave. The heat just isn't conducive to a nice hearty stew. Obviously, gazpacho would be an option, and I intend to try it soon...

I recently cut out a recipe from Cooking Light magazine (June 2005 issue) for Vegetable Soup with Pistou. I didn't have enough basil to make the pistou, which meant I was afraid the soup wouldn't quite be flavorful enough, so I adapted the original recipe to suit my own tastes. Fat Baby and I thoroughly enjoyed the soup for dinner last night, but The Carnivore decided it wasn't rich enough without meat (even though it then wouldn't even BE vegetable soup anymore). He did, however, agree that it was very tasty, albeit more of a side dish than a main dish in his opinion. My biggest source of happiness in this dish was that it had a clear broth base rather than the usual thick tomato base that most vegetable soups are made of.

  • 1 can navy beans, not drained
  • 1 3/4 cups chopped leeks
  • 1 cup chopped mixed red and white onions
  • 1 cup finely chopped baby carrots
  • 1 cup chopped seeded peeled tomato (see below)
  • 3/4 cup diced potato
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • freshly cracked black pepper, to taste (my taste called for about 2 Tbs)
  • 8 parsley sprigs
  • 1 bay leaf
  • pinch of thyme leaves
  • 10 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups diced zucchini
  • 3/4 cup uncooked elbow macaroni (I used a macaroni made from brown rice pasta and it turned out great)
  • 1/4 lb green beans, trimmed and cut in half
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 6 basil leaves, chopped finely
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  1. In a large dutch oven, combine first 11 ingredients (through 10 cups water) and stir to combine. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes.
  2. Stir in zucchini, macaroni, and green beans. Cook 15 minutes.
  3. Add wine, basil, garlic and oil, and cook for another 5 minutes.

I originally planned to skip the tomato, due to mine and The Carnivore's usual distaste of large tomato hunks, but I had a new trick I wanted to try and it was perfect! We were at a dinner party a few months ago and I spent much of the time in the kitchen, watching an old friend of mine put together the most beautiful meal. He is a chef at some resort in Montana now, and I was truly amazed at his prowess in the kitchen. Anyhow, he needed diced tomatoes for something, and I watched him cut the tomato in half and scoop out all the seeds and pulp, leaving about 1/2-inch of thick tomato meat around the outside, which he then chopped up for the dish. Amazingly, this worked for both me and The Carnivore's tastes, as it eliminated the part of the tomato that we don't like: the odd mealy, slimy, spongy texture of the seeds. I am SO glad to know this trick now so that I can include chopped tomato in more dishes. We both love tomato sauces and salsa to begin with, so we were already on the right track.

The one irritation I had was with peeling the tomato (not much fun at all), but I read a snippet in the July issue of Cooking Light that not only reinforced my buddy's way of scooping out the inside of the tomato, but also included tips on peeling the tomato (though I am generally loathe to peel anything, as I am afraid I am losing vital nutrients when I do that). According to the article I read: make two crossed slits in the bottom of a tomato (an "x"); put the tomato in boiling water for 30 seconds and then plunge it into ice water for another 30 seconds; peel and scoop.

I served the soup with garlic bread made from whole-wheat English muffins, though I would have preferred serving it with an Everything Bagel. Alas, a trip to the bakery in town wasn't in the cards yesterday. Sundays are for resting and cooking. And eating, of course. Not for shopping.

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