This soup is flavorful and warming, and on a cold winter’s night, a welcome supper.
It has been grey here in Vermont. Tuesday, we had a bit of sun for a while, but for the most part, the last two weeks have been black and white with a bit of holiday red tossed in. The weather has fluctuated from warm with melting snow to frigid cold. This is not the picture postcard of our state that captivates many.
Let’s sit by the fire
It’s hot tea and stay inside weather, maybe sit by the fire. This week is also the purge of the refrigerator and pantry in the wake of the holidays, and that means soup. I had lots of bits left over from our feasts, and soup making is a great way to clear things out for the new year.
My crisper drawer held a rutabaga, lots of carrots of varying states of freshness, a couple of cups of shredded cabbage left over from slaw making, a sad little orange pepper and wilted bunch of scallions, the remnants of a large knob of ginger, and a pint of red and orange cherry tomatoes. It struck me how much orange was in the drawer, and some orange lentils from the pantry rounded it out! A sunny color on a grey day, a study in orange, I’m all for that!
The art of making soup
This is how I made the soup this week and I don’t really think of it as a recipe as much as a technique. Soup making should be done by the feel of it once you get the idea, and it’s always a great way to use those little leftover bits and bobs. So many veggies you could use here! What do you like? You need aromatics, something starchy and substantial, a little extra protein, here I’m using lentils, and the herbs and seasonings that make each pot unique and flavorful. You can swap out any other herbs you like; curry spices would be wonderful here.
When making soup, toss all the trimmings from the vegetable prep into a saucepan and make some stock. It’s always different, and I love that I’m making use of what is often thrown in the trash. Plus, the stock will only enhance the flavor of the soup because you make it from the vegetables in the soup.
Let it become a habit
This is what my mother did, and her mother before her. It becomes a habit that takes no time at all. So, while you peel and chop everything up here, add them to a stock pot. Of course, you can always use purchased stock, or even just water, but you’ll miss out on a little fun and the good feeling of making use of every bit of your produce.
If I’m not making soup that day, I’ll collect the trimmings in a container in the refrigerator to make later, or I’ll go ahead and make up a quick stock, save it in a canning jar, and use it in making rice, etc., during the week.
Let the soup do the work!
This is a crowd pleaser. Vegan, dairy- and gluten-free, heart healthy, low fat, and packed with tons of nutrition and flavor. While this looks like a lot of ingredients, most of the work is in the chopping, the rest of the time you’ll let the soup gently cook itself.
Winter Vegetable Soup: A Study in Orange
For the soup:
- 2 tsp. olive oil
- 1 large onion or two small, sliced
- 2 large carrots, peeled and sliced
- 2 stalks celery, minced
- 4 fat cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1-inch knob of ginger, finely minced
- 2 tbsp. tomato paste
- ½ tsp. hot Hungarian paprika
- ½ tsp. dried thyme, crushed
- 1 cup water
- 1 sweet orange pepper, diced
- 10 oz. button or crimini mushroom, quartered
- 1 rutabaga, peeled and chopped
- ½ cup orange lentils
- 2 cups shredded cabbage
- Salt and pepper
- 1 quart vegetable stock (you’ll make this)
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, half of them halved
- 1 can light coconut milk
For the topping:
- 8 – 10 large mushrooms, sliced
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 4 fat cloves garlic, finely minced
- ½ tsp. paprika
- Pinch of salt and paprika
Prep the vegetables: Cut off the ends of the onion, peel it, cut in half and slice. Place the peelings and root in the stock pot. Peel the carrots, cut off the ends, slice them in rounds and place the trimmings in the pot. Slice the celery stalks and place the top leaves and root ends in the pot. Mince the garlic and ginger and put the trimmings in the pot along with the mushroom stems and rutabaga peelings (if not waxed). Chop mushrooms in quarters, and chop rutabaga.
Make the stock: Add six cups of water to the stock ingredients along with two bay leaves, a star anise, a half teaspoon of salt, a few grinds of pepper, and a pinch of thyme. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for a half hour. Strain and set aside.
Make the soup: Heat olive oil in a soup pot and add the onions, carrot, and celery. Sauté for about five minutes, until the onions begin to soften, then add the garlic, ginger, tomato paste, paprika, and thyme and let these all bloom and become flavorful, stirring all the while. Things are starting to smell pretty good just about now.
Add the water to deglaze the pan, scraping up the fond from the bottom of the pot. Add the pepper, mushrooms, rutabaga, lentils, and cabbage. Season with salt and pepper. Add the stock, bring to a boil, cover, reduce to a simmer, and let cook away for about 30 to 40 minutes, or until the lentils are cooked and the cabbage nicely wilted. While the soup is simmering, make the garlic mushroom topping, below.
Add the cherry tomatoes and continue to cook until they break down. Remove from the heat, stir in the coconut milk, taste, and correct the seasoning if necessary.
Serve with some crusty bread and a topping of the crispy garlic mushrooms.
Crispy Roasted Garlic Mushrooms
Preheat the oven to 450.
Place the ingredients on a rimmed baking sheet and mix them up with your fingers so everything is evenly coated. Spread into a single layer.
Roast for five minutes, turn, and roast another five minutes or so, until the garlic is nice and crispy and mushrooms cooked through and browning.
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