Thursday, September 18, 2008

Vegetable Soup, or Something Like It

Finally, a bounty from the garden! I even have cucumbers growing after my first crop failed at the end of July. Everyone else in the neighborhood has a garden this year, so now that all the vegetables are ripening at once, I had to find something to do with them. In an effort to get the kids to eat them, I tried a new recipe from a cookbook I recently bought called The Garden-Fresh Vegetable Cookbook, by Andrea Chesman. It's a great book, arranged by season and vegetable. The recipes I've tried have come out really well.

Tonight's recipe is: Tomato-Vegetable Soup! Not that exciting. I know. Very easy to make, and eaten by everyone in the family. I don't have a food mill so I simply strained the tomatoes. I also added a pound of elbows instead of the 1/2 cup of soup pasta (it's the only way I could think to get the kids to eat it, although they were so proud of themselves for having picked the vegetables that went into it they probably would have eaten it for that reason alone.)It took me about an hour to make it, and I managed to control the masses at the same time. Granted, it was more like some sort of noodle dish then soup because of the overdose of elbows, but

Here's the recipe to serve 4-6:

8C chopped tomatoes
5C vegetable or chicken broth
1-2 leeks or 1 large onion
1-2 carrots
1/2 pound shell beans in pods (1C shelled) or 1C chopped green beans (I used chopped wax beans)
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp chopped fresh oregano leaves
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
3 garlic cloves, minced
salt and pepper
kernels from two ears corn
1/2 cup small soup pasta (optional)
sugar (optional)
pesto (I didn't use any pesto)

Combine the tomatoes and 2C of broth in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until the tomatoes are completely tender, about 30 min.

Meanwhile, thinly slice the leeks and carrots. Shell the beans.

Pass the tomatoes through a food mill to remove skins and seeds.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the leeks and carrots and saute until the leeks are soft, about 4 minutes. Add the shell beans, remaining 3 cups broth, tomato puree, oregano, thyme, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the beans are completely tender, 20 to 30 minutes.

Add the corn kernels and soup pasta, if using. Continue to simmer until the pasta is cooked through, about 10 minutes.

Taste and adjust the seasoning. If the flavors do not seem balanced, consider adding sugar, 1/2 tsp at a time, as well as more salt and pepper. To serve, ladle the soup into individual bowls. Top each with a spoonful of pesto and serve.

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