Thursday, January 13, 2005

Stewing Over Nothing

I've been meaning to make a pot of vegetable soup since the weekend, and since my play date with my nephews fell through yesterday afternoon, I figured that gave me as good a chance as any to get started.

(This is why it's always good to have some soup stock on hand... makes it so much easier to make these snap decisions!)

I'm perpetually amazed at how easy it is to throw together a pot of soup, even without a recipe. I started with chopping one onion and 2 cloves of garlic, then sauteeing them in my big pot with some olive oil until they were nicely browned (not burnt). I added a good sprinkling of salt and pepper, then a scattering of dried oregano and basil (probably about 1 tsp. each). I love how fragrant just a bit of seasoning can make sauteed onions... really adds some depth to the aroma.

Then I dumped in the vegetables: diced carrot, sweet potato, and potato; green beans; frozen corn; and a can of chopped tomatoes. I tossed them with the onions and herbs for just a few seconds, then added about a quart of vegetable stock and a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce. Once it came to a boil, I turned down the heat and let it simmer for an hour.

At that point, I added a couple of handfuls of a wonderful organic alphabet pasta that I keep tucked away just for soups, and let it continue simmering for about 10 minutes.

Now, here's the tricky part: I like my soups to be a little thicker, so I added some extra pasta. (I always eyeball it anyway.) So when I came back to the pot 10 minutes later, I found that my soup had turned into a thick stew because the pasta had absorbed almost all of the liquid! A bit thicker than I would have liked, but hey, it all worked out.

And if I want, I can add more stock to the rest of the soup/stew to thin it out again. But I don't know, I kind of like it this way!

Once I had a couple ladlefuls in my bowl, I grated some fresh Parmesan cheese over the top and had a very satisfying dinner. (Cheese on soup... what a fabulous idea! Who was the genius who taught me that one?)

For those of you who remember the "Red Dwarf" episode involving gazpacho, I leave you with the following (and highly relevant) quote:

"Souper!"

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