It’s been pretty chilly around here these days, and so I hunkered down and made what I hope is the last big batch of wintry veggie soup before we set our sights on grilling and other spring and summer fare. This is sort of a kitchen-sink soup. Use what you’ve got. It will be slightly different every time, but that’s what keeps this soup interesting.
Start with a good broth, if you can. I prefer to make my own veggie broth from a big bag of vegetable scraps I keep in my freezer for just such occasions. I store carrot peels, onion and garlic skins, celery tops and bottoms, potato peels, anything that’s not going to give the soup a strong or “off” taste (skip pepper scraps, eggplant scraps, tomato scraps, things like that). But, if you don’t have the time or supplies on hand for a fresh broth, just purchase veggie broth, or go with water and increase the veggies you’re including in the soup.
6 to 8 cups good vegetable broth
2 or 3 tablespoons of EVOO
1 onion, diced
3 carrots, cut in half moons
3 celery stalks, with frilly leaves on top, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large potato, peeled and cubed
1 red pepper, diced
2 handfuls of string beans, fresh or frozen
1 15 oz can of diced tomatoes
1 15 oz can of dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 small handful of fresh parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups small but “meaty” pasta — ditalini, small shells, small farfalle,
Romano cheese, for the table
Saute onion, celery, carrot, peppers, and garlic in EVOO in a large soup pot for a few minutes until softened. Add warm or room temperature vegetable broth to the veggies. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Add potatoes, green beans, and red beans, then add a few shakes of soy sauce (about 1 or 2 tablespoons) and a dash of red wine (about 1/4 to 1/2 cup, depending on taste). Let simmer for 40 minutes or so. Add salt and pepper to taste. About 8 minutes before you’re ready to serve, add the pasta and cook until just al dente. Add the parsley and stir.
Serve with a sprinkling of Romano cheese, a slice of crusty bread, and a side salad, and you’ve got an awesome dinner. This pot will serve a family of five with lots left over for lunch the next day. And the next.
Don’t forget that you can change up this soup depending on what you have on hand — add kale or spinach in the final stages, use chick peas instead of kidney beans, or give it a southwestern flare by adding fire-roasted tomatoes or fire-roasted corn and black beans instead of kidney beans and regular tomatoes. Top that version with crushed tortilla chips. Yum, I might have to make one more pot after all! The possibilities are endless.