Sunday, July 28, 2013

Many Vegetable Soup

To complete ‘Restaurant Month’, I share a back kitchen restaurant trick that you can employ at home to make a simple summer meal.

Restaurant chefs know how to make the most out of all the ingredients in their kitchens.  Making soup is a frugal way to use pure ingredients, like the last carrots or extra zucchini in the refrigerator.  Not enough to serve as a side dish at dinner, but in combination with a few other extras in the pantry, these remains in the vegetable bin can be part of a whole new creation.  30-Vegetable Soup is often thickened with a bean and tomato base that is partially pureed.  The soup is satisfying but not too heavy for a mid-summer night. 

Many of our favorite Italian restaurants in New York City offer a vegetable soup that boasts an enormous variety of vegetables.  As a house specialty, they buy their vegetables with this 30-Vegetable Soup in mind.  You can use the same thought process when you buy groceries with just five or six vegetables (or as many as thirty). Don't be put off by the number of ingredients.  This is a rustic soup and you can get away with a rough chop so prep time is fast. 

Here is a basic recipe that expands to fifteen or more vegetables but tastes just great with a small number of vegetables too.  

Many Vegetable Soup
Serves 6

Ingredients
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion and/or 1 fennel bulb, sliced
2 ribs celery, sliced
2 carrots and/or parsnips, peeled and sliced
2 zucchini or yellow squash, sliced
1 large potato, cubed
1 cup green beans and/or broccoli (florets and/or thinly sliced stems)
1 14-oz can peeled whole tomatoes
8 cups water (or ½ water ½ broth)
½ teaspoon dried herbs; choose from thyme, rosemary, basil, oregano or dill (if ¼ using fresh, add 2 tablespoons chopped at end of cooking)
½ small green cabbage, chopped (or 2 cups cole slaw mix)
1 clove garlic, chopped (optional)
2 cups spinach, kale or swiss chard leaves (rinsed well and coarsely chopped)
2 cups cooked or canned beans (white beans or your favorite)
to garnish: fresh herbs and grated Parmesan cheese


Method
  1. In a large stock pot, heat oil over medium heat.  
  2. Add the prepared vegetables from onion through green beans/broccoli.  Cook until they are slightly wilted and soft, about 3-4 minutes.  
  3. Add tomatoes, water and dried herbs.  Lower heat and cover.  Simmer vegetables 10-12 minutes, until almost done.  
  4. Uncover pot and add remaining ingredients: cabbage, greens and cooked/canned beans.  
  5. Cook until all vegetables are tender.  
  6. Serve with fresh herbs and grated cheese.
Variations: For a creamier version, cool soup and puree half.  Return puree to soup and stir to combine.  Reheat to serve.