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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Hot Soup for a Cold Day: Homemade Vegetable Soup

In the blink of an eye, summer disappeared. It seems like the 4th of July was just yesterday when we wore short sleeve shirts and shorts, had a picnic in the park, and watched fireworks explode overhead.

Now we're trying to keep warm and dry as dark clouds matte out the sky and cold winds push thick rain drops against our bodies. At a time like this, happiness is a good parka and thick socks!

Wrapping up in a thick blanket or cozying up to a well-stoked fireplace fortifies body and soul against the chill. For internal weatherproofing, though, nothing beats the cold better than homemade soup.

Simple is often best and that is doubly true in soups. When I'm cold, I want my soup hot, fresh tasting, and flavorful.

Vegetable soup is easy-to-make and nourishing. Perfect any time of the day, but when the weather's cold and rainy, I like soup in the morning. It's better than a cup of coffee or tea to get me out the door.

8 Vegetable Soup

For visual appeal, the vegetables are all cut the same size as corn kernels.

Please check out the Variations below. The soup makes a good base for the addition of other flavors and ingredients.

Yield: 4 servings

Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients

1 medium yellow onion, skin removed, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, skins removed, finely chopped
1 medium potato, peel on, washed, finely chopped
1 ear of corn, husks and silks removed, kernels cut off
2 carrots, washed, trimmed, peeled, finely chopped
1 cup Italian parsley, washed, dried, leaves and stems finely chopped
1 cup brown mushrooms, washed, pat dried, finely chopped
10 cherry tomatoes, washed, quartered
3 cups spinach leaves and stems, washed thoroughly, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 cups water
1 tablespoon sweet butter (optional)
Sea salt and pepper

Method

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium flame. Saute the onions and garlic until lightly browned. Season with sea salt and pepper. Add the other vegetables. Cook until softened, about 5 minutes.

Add the water, bring to a light boil. Continue to simmer for 30 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning. For a creamier texture, add the sweet butter.

Serve hot, topped with croutons, preferably homemade.

Variations

Use chicken or meat stock instead of water

Trade out any of the vegetables for broccoli, zucchini, leeks, squash, kale, or any vegetable you like

Use chopped arugula instead of the spinach

For a hearty soup, in the final 5 minutes, add 1 cup cooked pasta, like ziti, penne, fussili or 1 cup cooked rice or 1 cup cooked white beans

Add 1 cup cooked, shredded chicken meat

Add 1 cup roughly chopped sauteed sausage

Season with 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary or oregano added to the saute

Just before serving, sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

For a touch of heat, dust the saute with cayenne

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