Even though it's starting to warm up in Southern California, I still think of this time of year as "soup days." If you were fortunate enough to grow up in a family where homemade soup graced the table in these cold wintry months, you know just what I mean. There's nothing so comforting as fresh soup simmering away on the stove.
In my family, soup is different every single time we make it; there are no recipes. There are ideaas and there are full fridges and pantries with unique ingredients every time. One of my fondest memories with Doug is making split pea soup together on Christmas Eve four years ago (yes!)with a bottle of wine, some music, and ample tasting spoons. Then I fell asleep while he tended to it. (Not sure how the soup took long enough to warrant a nap, but it did.)
Growing up, I used to boast that my dad could make chili. It didn't occur to me until years later that he warmed it from the can. Dennison's. Yum! But same story--soup on the stove = good times.
Yesterday, I took the day off and treated us to homemade soup that was just right. Slightly spicy, it had a bit of this and a pinch of that. My deal is building layers of flavor into soups and stews--a tablespoon of this and that makes all the difference.
So I give you...Spicy Vegetable Soup, 3/7/2011 style:
Spicy Vegetable Soup
1/2 large cube chicken bouillon (I buy the huge package of big squares that are the equivalent of four little cubes each)
4 c. water
1 can white beans, rinsed
1 can Italian style stewed tomatoes, chopped, with juice (can puree these)
1 whole white onion, chopped
4 chopped, peeled carrots
1 t. minced garlic
4 T. chopped, dried parsley (went a little overboard here but loved the results)
1 chopped large zucchini
2 t. Italian seasoning
5 stalks celery, chopped
1 monster potato, peeled and chopped, or 2 large potatoes peeled and chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Three dashes ground red pepper
1 c. dried rotini pasta
1 T. salad dressing (I used Greek Feta)
Put water, bouillon, and all vegetables except tomatoes and zucchini in large soup kettle. Add spices. Bring to boil and continue boiling for 25-40 mins with lid on. (I boil my soups!) Remove lid and add zucchini, tomatoes, beans, salad dressing, and pasta.
Cook until pasta is tender. (If you anticipate having leftovers and don't want your pasta soggy the next day, cook it separately and add it to each bowl to mix into soup.)
Serve with a good piece of sourdough (maybe some pineapple jam?!) and a little grated parmesan on top, if you like. Sometimes, I add shredded parmesan into this soup, but that makes it a little more minestrone and a little less vegetable-y to me. Semantics, I suppose.
Nothing like a comforting vegetarian meal to make the day feel special! We didn't take any pictures--it's soup. You've seen it before. :)
What do you add to your veggie soup to make it special?