Monday, October 20, 2008
Soup in the Leaves
Though the nights are frosty, we have so far resisted turning on our heat and stuffing our precious wood into the fireplace because: a) we haven't cleaned out the chimneys yet, b) we are cheap, er, frugal, yeah, that's it, and c) we have plenty of sweaters and furry friends to keep us toasty at night. It is definitely soup and stew season, and I used my day off to peruse my cookbooks for a new soup recipe for "No Croutons Required", a monthly soup and salad cooking event alternately hosted by Tinned Tomatoes in Scotland and Lisa's Kitchen in Ontario. This month's challenge is to create a hearty vegetarian soup that would stand alone as a filling meal on a chilly day, and I came up with just such a soup.
Inspiration was divined by "Chef on a Shoestring", edited by Andrew Friedman (NY: Simon and Schuster, 2001) and based on the CBS Early Show feature in which top chefs produce budget-friendly meals. I was hooked on a recipe Greenwich Village chef Jeanette Maier served at her Herban Kitchen restaurant for Hearty Root Vegetable and Lentil Stew with Three Herbs. Perusal of the Crispy larder came up rootless, veggie wise, however, and I didn't have a couple of other ingredients, but with a little substitution here and there I concocted this satisfying, hearty, and vegetarian pottage:
Autumnal Peasant Soup
2 Tbsp. 0live oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped fine
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried rosemary, crumbled
1/2 tsp. caraway seeds
12 oz. small lentils, picked over and rinsed (I used a beautiful autumn blend of brown, grey and orange lentils from my health food store. They look divine dried but all turn the same shade of brown when cooked).
1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
2 qts. vegetable stock, homemade if possible
5 small potatoes, peeled and cut into small dice
4 stalks celery, diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced (I used a small bag of baby carrots that had been hiding in the fridge and were unappealingly dessicated to eat out of hand, but were fine cooked)
1/2 head medium cabbage, chopped (next time I would chope more finely)
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed soup pot. Add onions and garlic, and cook, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes, or until onions are translucent. Add herbs and caraway seeds and cook another 2 minutes.
Add lentils, tomatoes, vegetable stock, potatoes, celery and carrots and bring to boil. Lower heat, stir, cover and simmer on low heat about 40 minutes, or until potatoes are fairly well cooked. Add cabbage, stir and cook another 10 minutes, or until cabbage is softened. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Makes 4 main dish servings, 6-8 starter servings.
This is the last day for the Hearty Vegetarian Soup No Croutons Event, so I am squeaking into eligibility, but check back on Lisa's Kitchen later in the month for a satisfying, seasonal roundup.