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September 25, 2011

Vegetable Soup – Homemade

by Anne Paddock
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Soup is one of those great comfort foods that tastes especially delicious on an Autumn or Winter day and vegetable soup is surprisingly simple to make.  The only time-consuming part is the cutting of the vegetables which can be chopped ahead of time and stored in a bowl of water in the refrigerator until ready to use. Years ago, I started making my own soups and continue to make variations several times a month. Virtually any vegetable can be used: carrots, celery, onions, corn, potatoes, zucchini, squash, leeks, cauliflower, green beans and more.

11401_th_IMG_3086Add a can of cannellini or red kidney beans and/or a few cups of cooked pasta (Sclafani “Little Hats 300″ is my favorite pasta for soups – the pasta looks like thick hats or saucers and doesn’t get lost in the vegetables) to the soup pot and a great meal awaits.

Try to make all the vegetables the same size for ease in eating and use different colored vegetables to make the soup visually appealing. I vary my soup every time I make it based on the vegetables that are in the refrigerator and pantry but always include onions.  If small potatoes (yukon golds are delicious) are used, pre-cook and quarter the potatoes before adding to the soup.

2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3-4 large carrots, chopped
3-4 celery stalks, chopped
1 medium zucchini, chopped
1 small head of cauliflower, cut into small florets
8 ounces of green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces.
1 26 ounce box of Pomi chopped tomatoes*
1 3-inch Parmesan cheese rind**
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
4 bay leaves
1 can cannellini or red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
8 ounces of a small pasta, cooked
3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 cup of pesto
5-6 cups of reduced sodium vegetable broth
5-6 cups of water

1 cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese

  • Pour the olive oil into a large soup stock pot and heat to medium.
  • Add the onion, carrots, and celery and cook until tender, about 10 minutes (don’t brown the vegetables).
  • Add the zucchini, cauliflower , and green beans and cook gently for 10 minutes.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes, parmesan rind, thyme, bay leaves, and salt;  stir to blend.
  • Add enough water and chicken broth to fill the stock pot to 2 inches from the top.
  • Bring the soup to a soft boil and then reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Remove the soup from heat.
  • Discard the parmesan rind and bay leaves.
  • Add the fresh parsley and pesto, stirring to blend.
  • Add the cannellini or red kidney beans, if desired and pasta. Stir to blend.
  • Ladle the soup into serving bowls and top with grated parmesan cheese.

*Pomi tomatoes can be found in most grocery stores.  Packaged in a square box in the canned vegetable aisle, Pomi tomatoes have one ingredient:  tomatoes.

**I have fresh parmesan chunks on hand always for grating. When the cheese is gone and the rind is left, I put the rinds in a plastic bag and place in the freezer until needed for soups. The rind provides flavor to the soup.

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