I've come to believe my passion this spring is going to be soups. The weather has been very changeable -- it snowed today! -- but we've mostly been having warm days that cool off quickly at night. Is there a more perfect time for soup? I am really fascinated with veggie soups right now. How is it that they can taste different every time, with very similar ingredients? Good vegetables are so darn healthy, too.
Combine this eagerness for soup with my deep-seated love of cookbooks and the fact that the local library lets me check out up to 50 (!!!!) books at once, and I think you can see where my menus will be headed!
I made lentil soup sprinkled with cheddar cheese the other day, and MAN did it hit the spot! I'll have to come back later and add that recipe; I mostly invented it on the spot so it's a bit of work to post here. :P
I did want to share this one recipe I got from the library recently and typed up for my own use. Unfortunately, I didn't note down the name of the cookbook it came from. If I figure it out, I'll come back and add the information -- that one was a winner!
French Vegetable Soup with Basil and Garlic
Servings: The recipe says this will serve 8 people as a one-bowl meal or 12 as a starter, but I halved it and it looks like it will still be at least 6 servings!
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 onions, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
4 to 6 small red potatoes, scrubbed and diced (I would reduce this number next time)
1/2 pound green beans, trimmed and coarsely chopped
6 cups chicken or beef stock, OR water
4 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped, OR one 14-oz can diced tomatoes, drained
2 tsp fresh oregano leaves, or 1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 bay leaf
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 small zucchini, diced
2 cups cannellini beans (well-rinsed if canned)
2 cups cooked elbow macaroni or other small pasta
1-2 cups of whatever pesto you like
Warm the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions and carrots and cook 5 to 10 minutes, until the onions are golden.
Add the garlic and stir for a minute or two longer, being careful not to let it brown. Then add the potatoes, green beans, stock, tomatoes, oregano, and bay leaf.
Season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat and simmer 15-20 minutes, until the carrots and potatoes are crisp-tender.
Add the zucchini and cannellini; cook about 10 minutes, until all of the vegetables are tender.
Add the cooked pasta and cook 1 to 2 minutes, just until heated through.
Adjust seasonings as necessary and remove the bay leaf. Serve with a small bowl of pesto on the side, so diners can add to their own bowls to taste.