Thursday, February 5, 2015

Eats: A Use-It-Up Soup

Hello! In my previous post I mentioned that I'd made soup with some odds and ends from our freezer. I followed the recipe labeled "Soup - Detailed Instructions" from Julie Jordan's Wings of Life Vegetarian Cookery" (a thrift store find).

Detailed is right! Jordan lists 14 steps, spread out over 2 1/2 pages. But I've condensed that write-up in 9 much shorter steps. First I'll give the basic recipe, then I'll list my 9 steps and how I utilized them (or didn't) in my soup. 

Use-It-Up Soup (recipe by Julie Jordan, steps adapted by me)

1 1/2 cups to 3 cups cooked dried beans
1 c. cooked grains
4 onions, chopped
2 green peppers, chopped
3 or more cloves garlic, mashed (perhaps she means crushed?)
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 quart canned tomatoes or 6-8 fresh tomatoes, diced
Freshly-ground black pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
Red wine
Vegetables - all types, plenty of them

1. Heat vegetable oil (I use olive oil) in large pot. Saute onions, peppers and garlic in oil; add dried herbs and any other seasonings of your choosing (I used Italian seasoning) and cook until onion is softened, stirring occasionally. I didn't use the green peppers, and added just one onion - four seems excessive.

2. Add tomatoes, pepper to taste and 1 teaspoon sea salt. Although she didn't list it in the recipe, Jordan suggests adding a bay leaf at this point, and that I did. 

3. "Add a nice pour of hearty red wine" Jordan says. I used sherry. I also added water at this point, which Jordan doesn't mention. I started with 8 cups, figuring some of it would cook away.

4. Add long-cooking vegetables, such as carrots, turnips, potatoes, parsnips and sweet potatoes; try to cut all vegetables roughly the same size so they'll cook evenly. Simmer for 30 minutes; vegetables should be partially-cooked after the time is up. I added all but the last vegetable at this step, and also added some celery. 

5. Now add any medium-cooking vegetable, such as broccoli, cauliflower and green beans. Simmer 20 minutes longer. I had no vegetables from this category.

6. Now add cooked grains and beans. I used 1 cup each cooked barley, cooked lentils and cooked kidney beans - all had been leftovers from previous meals, but that was fine with me. I'd stuck them in our freezer, knowing they'd be perfect for this recipe!

7. Add short-cooking vegetables: cabbage, kale, peas, zucchini and okra. I used fresh zucchini and chopped cabbage that I'd blanched and frozen last fall (the cabbage had come from the Farmer's Market). Cook a few minutes longer.

8. Taste for seasoning. I added more Italian seasoning, a bit more salt  and pepper and a dash of cayenne pepper. 

9. Add a few minutes before eating - chopped fresh greens such as spinach, Swiss chard, beet greens, Chinese cabbage. I had no fresh greens on hand, so instead I thawed some frozen chopped spinach and added that. 

9. Snip fresh herbs such as basil, parsley and chives into the soup right before serving. I used homegrown parsley that I'd chopped and frozen last fall.

That's it! The important thing is to follow the cooking guidelines for when to add the vegetables; this prevents them from getting mushy. But other than that, you can use any suitable tidbits you have on hand, like leftover rice or pasta, or a can of garbanzo beans if that's your fancy. 

Obviously there's no meat in the recipe since Jordan is a vegetarian, but if you have, say, leftover chicken from last night's dinner, toss it in if you like. There's a lot of flexibility with a recipe like this.

Indeed, it's a use-it-up soup! But it's good enough that you'd never know you were eating leftovers.

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