This morning I was taken for a brisk walk by our Jack Russell along the banks of the Hudson River. It was a blustery Fall morning, the swaying trees were full of vibrant shades of reds, golds and oranges. The dog trotted along, tail up, nose quizzically exploring the scents along the riverbank with her little ears flapping in the breeze. This morning was the perfect morning for making soup!
Soup, I believe is not an exact science - unlike baking. Soup takes into account all the variables in life - like what you have in your fridge, how long you have to cook it and just how bolstering you need it to be. Sometimes I feel the need for a brew using beef stock and perhaps a helping of barley in the soup. In my more Zen moments I use spring water (and it always amazes me that the stock produced with the cooking vegetables is substantial and delicious). Other times, chicken stock with some ditalini pasta does the trick. Just depends on the mood.
Hurry up, let's go for a walk!
Feel free to substitute almost any vegetable, kale, collards, turnips, parsnips etc are all great options. I didn't have any leafy greens left in the fridge (horror) so I threw in a handful of baby spinach leaves from a salad box and it was delicious.
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 carrots, finely chopped
3 celery sticks, finely chopped
3 potatoes (I leave the skins on) finely chopped
2 garlic cloves (minced)
1 sweet potato (peeled and finely chopped)
A handful of fresh herbs (I used parsley and very finely chopped rosemary)
salt and pepper
2, 15oz cans of beans of your choice (I used 1 of butter beans and 1 of cannelini)
32 oz of stock (beef, chicken, vegetable or water)
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
1 cup of frozen green peas
1 cup of baby spinach leaves
1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar
In a large stockpot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil.
Saute the onions for 5 minutes on a low heat. Sprinkle with salt to avoid burning.
Add the carrots, celery, garlic and potatoes and saute for a further 5 minutes.
Add the drained beans, stir well.
Add the stock and the tomato paste, bring to the boil and turn down to a simmer.
Add the frozen green peas and baby spinach leaves about 5 minutes before the soup is cooked.
Partially cover the pot and cook, simmering gently for about 30-40 minutes, or until the veggies are cooked through but not mushy.
If you like a thick soup, ladle out 1 cup and puree in a blender, return to the pot and stir through the soup.
Pour the tablespoon of red wine vinegar into the soup and stir. Check the seasonings.
Let rest for five minutes or so.
Serve with a drop of olive oil and a few more freshly chopped herbs sprinkled on top.