Hearty and healthy bowl of vegetable soup.

Vegetable Soup {RECIPE}

With all my new veggies, I needed to make dinner. My boyfriend was feeling under the weather and attempting a gluten cleanse, so vegetable soup seemed to be an obvious choice.

Vegetable soup dinner made with homemade chicken broth and CSA-grown vegetables.

Vegetable soup dinner made with homemade chicken broth and CSA-grown vegetables.

When my sister and I were in middle and high school in Texas our dad worked in Chicago. So every Sunday we’d say goodbye to him and my mom would work to get us ready for a new week. Living on 20 acres, 10 miles from town, her job entailed a lot of 6 a.m. shuttles to cross country practice, maintaining a coop of a dozen chickens and parenting two teenagers. Seeking comfort (and probably distraction) she’d find solace in making vegetable soup (plus, it meant not wasting produce). Being typical teenagers, my sister and I would ungratefully groan at the thought of yet another vegetable soup. And yet it’s funny that now I, too, find comfort in the process and finished product.

Every batch of vegetable soup is different because you can use any combination of vegetables. The guidelines for the batches I make are adapted from my mother’s and are rooted in the steps I’ve outlined here.

Gently sautéing one chopped onion in butter and oil over medium to low heat in a stock pot gives the soup a slightly sweet start.

One sautéed onion for the base of vegetable soup.

One sautéed onion; the base for the soup.

Once the onions were translucent (about 15 minutes) I added some roughly chopped herbs to the pot.

Chopped rosemary and oregano (not pictured) were added to perfume the sautéed onion base.

Chopped rosemary and oregano (not pictured) were added to perfume the sautéed onion base.

Starting with the vegetable that would need the longest time to cook, I added chopped carrots.

Alice Waters recommends to chop your vegetables (for soup) in uniform shapes so they'll cook evenly. Mine were hardly uniform, but it didn't pose a serious threat to the soup's outcome.

Alice Waters recommends to chop your vegetables (for soup) in uniform shapes so they’ll cook evenly. Mine were hardly uniform, but it didn’t pose a serious threat to the soup’s outcome.

Next up: Fennel.

One fennel bulb added a new texture and taste to the soup.

One fennel bulb added a sweet taste to the soup.

The skinnier and green stalks on a bulb of fennel have a much more potent licorice flavor than the white bulb section (pictured above). I added a few slices of this to add just a touch of the flavor, but not enough to overpower the soup.

The skinnier and green stalks (pictured here) on a bulb of fennel have a much more potent licorice flavor than the white bulb section (pictured above). I added a few slices of this part to add just a touch of the licorice flavor, but not enough to overpower the soup.

America’s tomato crops have earned a troubled reputation in recent years. And, in my opinion, Florida’s tomatoes are no exception. So you can imagine my glee when I met the man who grew these beauties. His farm is about a mile from Fort Lauderdale Vegetables’ garden, so they’ve partnered to provide more variety to the CSA program.

Sliced tomatoes from local garden in Fort Lauderdale area.

Sliced tomatoes from local garden in Fort Lauderdale area.

Chopping up the tomatoes, I added the chunks, juices and seeds to the pot of vegetables. Along the way, I lightly salted after each addition of vegetables to bring out the individual flavors.

A few weeks ago I made chicken broth from a whole chicken, the way Alice Waters prefers (I’ll post about this someday). So while I cleaned, chopped and cooked my veggies I’d been thawing a batch of homemade chicken stock.

A frozen quart of homemade chicken broth streamlined the making of vegetable soup and gave it a rich flavor.

A frozen quart of homemade chicken broth streamlined the making of vegetable soup and gave it a rich flavor.

My father grows chili peppers at our home in the Texas Hill Country. Last time I was home he gave me a bag of fresh peppers, I brought them back to Florida and dried what I didn't cook with right away.

My father grows chili peppers at our home in the Texas Hill Country. Last time I was home he gave me a bag of fresh peppers, I brought them back to Florida and dried what I didn’t cook with right away.

Chopping up the dried chili added a dimension of spice.

Chopping up the dried chili added some nice heat.

Tossing in an old rind of Parmesan cheese adds a salty and slightly richer dimension to the broth. When I finish a chunk of Parmesan, I like to save the rinds in a bag in the refrigerator for dishes like these.

Once the soup came to a boil, I lowered the heat to a simmer until the vegetables were cooked and the flavors melded (about thirty minutes). Taste your soup along the way, adjusting flavor as you see fit. My broth was quite hearty so it was already in good shape. Toward the end (roughly five minutes before the soup was served), I added in two generous handfuls of spinach and a few bok choy leaves. I like to add these vegetable types at the end so that they’re slightly wilted when the soup is served. If added too early they can be overcooked. The cheese rind is added to flavor the soup, so don’t forget to toss it before you serve.

Ladling the soup into big bowls, I garnished with fresh parsley, black pepper and grated parmesan.

Hearty and healthy bowl of vegetable soup.

Hearty and healthy bowl of vegetable soup.

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This entry was published on March 4, 2013 at 12:01 am. It’s filed under making a mess in the garden., making a mess in the kitchen. and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

2 thoughts on “Vegetable Soup {RECIPE}

  1. congrats on your new blog!!! looks GREAT

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