Friday, February 3, 2012

Winter Veg and Grain Trash Soup

It's pretty rare that I reach for a recipe to cook from twice, especially something as adaptable and forgivable like soup.  A repeat of this Orangette vegetable soup was probably more due to curiosity than anything else - how could something so simple be so delicious?

Fortunately for you all, I'm a regular Poirot and deduced the secret in no time: good stock, fresh herbs, and cubed winter veg.  And by "fresh herbs," all I mean not the dried kind, since I'm still using up my mammoth bunches from Thanksgiving that are having some bronze age discoloration issues (but taste fine).  Otherwise, the recipe lends itself well to tinkering and veg-drawer cleaning, incorporating all of the bits and pieces lying around your fridge into a real snuggie of a stew that you actually want to eat, even though it's incredibly healthy.

So tinker to your heart's desire.  I originally made this with the proper leeks, parsnips, and cabbage, though the second version with turnips, butternut squash, and kale was a little more sweet and bitter. I probably wouldn't do all potatoes since it would be too starchy, but otherwise let your fridge contents be your guide.

Because this time of year we can all use a little redemption, can't we? I, for one, am still recovering from my second annual trip to the Beer, Bourbon, and Barbecue festival.  So stay tuned for lots more on the vegetable front.

Winter Veg and Grain Trash Soup
Inspired by Orangette

Serves 6-8
Total time: 45 min-90 min (Active time 10 minutes)

  • 2 tablespoons fat (olive/vegetable oil and butter are best)
  • 1 large onion, diced (any kind)
  • 3 or 4 ribs of celery, diced (OR the skinny core of the celery bunch, leaves included)
  • 3 skinny carrots, diced
  • 1(ish) pound (450 grams) mixed diced winter veggies, such as:
    • potatoes/sweet potatoes
    • parsnips, peeled
    • turnips/rutabagas
    • winter squash
    • leeks, the white/light green parts rinsed and thinly sliced
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1ish tablespoon fresh hard herbs (rosemary, sage, thyme, or a mix)
  • 1 ½ -2 liters (6-9 cups) low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock (veer towards the low end for a stew)
  • 2 bay leaves (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4-3/4 cup (50-150g) uncooked grains such as (in order of cooking time): 
    • couscous
    • bulgur
    • small pasta
    • quinoa
    • white rice
    • pearled barley (best for chew)
    • farro
    • brown rice
    • wheat berries (will take at least an hour of extra cooking time)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Few handfuls of shredded leaves such as:
    • savoy cabbage
    • brussels sprouts
    • kale
    • chard
    • spinach
  • To serve (optional): grated hard cheese, squirt of Sriracha

Heat the oil/butter in a large pot.  Add the onion, celery, carrots, and other winter veg, and stir to coat. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10-15 minutes, or until softened. Add the garlic, herbs, and a few pinches of salt, and cook for a few minutes more.

Add the stock bay leaves (if using) and bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer.  Stir in whatever grains you're using, and cook as long as indicated on the package (20 minutes for pearl barley [my favorite]), stirring occasionally. 

Finally add your shredded leaves, and simmer for 5 minutes more.   Taste, and add salt as needed. Serve with freshly ground black pepper, or gussy up with Sriracha and shredded cheese.


Post a Comment