My husband has declared my most recent creation straight out of the garden to be, “The perfect vegetable soup.” (You can see why I keep him around.) But the secret was actually a little trick I borrowed from his mother.
I took my harvesting basket and a knife into the garden to see what I could find. We have dozens of broccoli shoots on plants I would have pulled out after the first head if the folks at Full Circle Farm hadn’t taught us better during our volunteer work day this winter. There’s also a nice crop of snap peas and snow peas–if you happen to find a time to pick them when the kids aren’t in the garden. ;-) I found beets, rutabagas, turnips and three or four different kinds of carrots. I am especially partial to the yellow ones in my winter cooking. They are a bright spot in the bowl that is surprisingly cheering this time of year. I also found plenty of oregano, thyme, chives, parsley and rosemary. And celery loves the wet weather we’ve been having.
I started with the traditional olive oil, carrots, onions and celery in the big stock pot and added in the rest of the root vegetables as I chopped. I also had some potatoes that needed to be used and I tossed in some sweet potato, trying not to waste that either. When the vegetables started to soften, I added in some chopped garlic. A few minutes later, I added two cups of chopped tomatoes, with the juice, half a cup of cooked kidney beans, the herbs, salt, pepper and four cups of chicken stock.
I let that simmer for half an hour while I cleaned and prepped the peas, broccoli and greens. Some of my broccoli plants are perfectly clean and healthy, but some of the flowerettes I have been picking are over-run with aphids, requiring a good wash and even a quick soak in salt water to clean them. I need to get out there with some soap and then go buy the kids a tub or two of ladybugs. ;-)
After the flavors had settled a bit, I brought the soup to a low boil and added in the rest of the vegetables and covered the pot for two minutes. But it still tasted too tomato-y. It was a bit harsh like Summer Sauce when you haven’t cooked it down yet. This is where my mother-in-law comes in. I consult with her on all culinary mysteries. She told me to slowly add some more herbs and red wine, tasting in between each addition until the soup was more balanced. Well, certainly never noticed *that* on the back of a Campbell’s label. I had a nice Cabernet in the cupboard that served well. Three pours and some oregano later, I rested the soup overnight in the refrigerator.
And then I fed it to my husband. The same husband who, when presented with my recent homemade creamed chicory, burst out with, “That is truly awful!” Luckily the vegetable soup went over better. He liked it, Hey Mikey!