Thursday, February 2, 2012

Vegetable Soup

Sometimes, only sometimes though, I am a bit of a slow learner.

M has been in school for 1 1/2 school years now.  I've packed countless lunches, the majority of them peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with a piece fruit, raw vegetables or edamame, a cheese stick, and a snack.  I haven't varied much from this, because M is happy with this lunch.  After a year and a half packing pb&j sandwiches for lunch, I've discovered an alternative--the thermos.

I can hear everyone sighing and saying, "Well, duh, Melani. Those have been around as long as sliced deli meat" (I am making this up, by the way, don't quote me!).  However, like I stated in the beginning, sometimes I am slow.

This vegetable soup has been one of M's favorite things to take her new thermos.  She's been asking for me to make it again, both for supper and leftovers for lunches.  Everyone else liked it too.

When I made this, I looked at the recipe and thought, another minestrone recipe just not labeled as minestrone.  I guess it's not though.  There is no pasta or cannellini beans.  It could easily be made vegetarian by omitting the pork listed in the beginning and using a well flavored vegetable stock in place of the chicken stock.  I actually didn't have potatoes when I made this, so I left them out and upped the amount of carrots I used.  I also threw in some celery for good measure.  Feel free to use the vegetables you have on hand.  I could see this being a good recipe to throw some kohlrabi in.

I found this recipe at The Year in Food.  There aren't a ton of posts, but when she does, the pictures are beautiful and the layout is uncluttered.  There are usually a lot of vegetables featured, sometimes strange grains (quinoa), and it follows the agrarian calendar.

This recipe will make 8 - 10 servings.

Vegetable Soup 
adapted slightly from The Year in Food

4 oz pancetta or bacon (optional--can substitute enough olive oil to saute onion in)
1 onion, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
6 c chicken or vegetable stock (or a mixture of either of those and water)
28 oz diced tomatoes (fire-roasted are especially tasty)
4 med potatoes, cubed (optional)
1 -2 sm/med kohlrabi, peeled and diced (optional)
1 bunch kale, stems removed and chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
red chile flakes, to garnish
Parmesan or cheddar cheese, to garnish

Heat a large soup pot over medium heat.  Add the bacon or pancetta and cook until the fat is rendered and it has browned (especially in the event you are using bacon, make sure it is good and cooked).  Remove excess fat (more than 1 T).    Add the onion and celery and cook until softened and onion is translucent.  Add the stock/water and diced tomatoes along with the potatoes (or kohlrabi).  Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 10 minutes, until the potatoes/kohlrabi are beginning to soften.  Add the carrots and continue to cook the root veggies are cooked, but still hold together well (don't cook to easily breakable stage).  Stir in the kale and cook just until kale has wilted and softened.  Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Serve hot.  Top with red chile flakes as desired and a grating of cheese.

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