Papercut and colored pencil art by Sheryl Aronson X 5

Friday, November 19, 2010

Soup: Its What's for Dinner

As winter slowly rolls in, I have started to alter what I cook.  I really like to cook, but I don't like to do it every day.  I make big pots of vegetable soup, using whatever vegetables I have.   Luckily, my husband is very agreeable when it comes to food, and doesn't mind eating the same thing for several days.
Here is my basic recipe:  I chop and saute a large onion in a little bit of olive oil.  While that is cooking, I cut up whatever other vegetables I want to use into bite sized pieces, starting with the ones that need to cook the longest, like root vegetables.  When the onion is nicely golden, I pour in 2 or 3 cans of chicken broth or veggie broth, and throw in the vegetables I have cut up.  I continue to cut up the softer veggies, and add them to the pot after the other veggies have cooked for a few minutes.  By the time I add the last veggies, they are well above the level of the broth.  My soups would probably be more correctly referred to as stews.   At the end, I add a can of tomatoes,or a small carton of a soup such as roasted red pepper or butternut squash. I sometimes add seasonings, but usually let the veggies speak for themselves.
This soup is very easy to do, other than cutting up all the veggies, which I find kind of meditative.  I know the instructions are pretty vague, that is because I don't use recipes, I just throw things together that most people wouldn't think of.  A recent soup I made included onion, butternut squash, Brussels sprouts, fennel, eggplant, apple and tomatoes, added to the pot in that order.  Instead of a can of tomatoes or a carton of soup added at the end, I added a jar of curry sauce.  As for the amounts of each veggie, I usually add all that there is.  A whole butternut squash, whatever size it is, a whole eggplant, the whole bag of Brussels sprouts, etc. (Cut into bite sized cubes, not tossed into the pot whole).
For protein, I often add Haloumi (Greek) or Paneer (Indian) cheese, neither of which melt when heated, cut in little cubes. a can or two of beans or occasionally turkey sausage.  I serve my soup with a nice bakery bread, whatever looked good that day, which we tear off the loaf in chunks.  The soup I described above lasted most of a week, and neither my husband nor I minded the repetition because it was so tasty.
Most of the effort of cooking is in getting out all the things you need, and cleaning up afterward.  By cooking large quantities, you can save yourself alot of effort.  One late afternoon spent cooking, then several days of just heating up the leftovers in the microwave oven. If you don't want to have it night after night, put it into labeled serving sized containers in the freezer, and take them out as needed.  This kind of cooking also works well for a group, so invite family members or friends in to help.  Many veggies can be bought already cut into bite sized chunks these days, and most grocery stores even have packages of chopped onions. Just buy the packages you want for your soup, and you don't even need to do much, if any, chopping!

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