Sunday, March 9, 2014

Really Good Vegetable Soup, With A Kick

If you're anything like me, then you eat a lot of vegetable soup. Sometimes too much of a good thing can be boring. This recently became the case for me and vegetable soup and I forced myself to take a little breather. The King of Soup made his amazing minestrone last month, with the cabbage and the beans and the goodness all swirled together in a beautiful pot of colours and flavours - and I didn't even have one bowl of it. I watched as the container full of soup was slowly depleted by my Mom and The King. I thought, as I watched it go, should I just have one bowl? But no, I really needed the break. Absence makes the heart grow fonder...I have been thinking about that soup since the last drop was drained from the container.

A few days ago The King brought home the latest Food & Drink magazine, and inside the cellophane-wrapped package of magazines and brochures was the one I usually toss right away, the Longo's advertising piece - where every recipe starts with a branded Longo's product. Before dumping this issue, I cracked it open. Lo and behold, the first page my eyes fell upon had a recipe for "Longo's Minestrone". A sign? Perhaps. I checked the cupboard and fridge, I had all the ingredients except the dreaded broccoli (which I loathe anyway) so decided to give it a stab.

It's YUMMY. So yummy that The King told me it might just be better than his. So yummy that I made another batch today.

What makes it special, in my opinion, is the kick from the red pepper flakes. For some reason, the simple addition of this one little ingredient just makes it stand apart from all the other veg soups I've had.

Give it a try and let me know what you think!

For this recipe, I didn't take any photos of the process since it's dead easy. My edits are in brackets, as usual.

Really Good Vegetable Soup, With A Kick (adapted from Longo's Minestrone)

1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 onion, chopped (I used half of a giant sweet onion, which are my favourite types of onions)
4 cloves garlic (I used 2/3 of one clove of Elephant Garlic, which may have amounted to closer to 5 cloves of regular garlic)
1 carrot, diced (I used 2)
1 stalk of celery, diced (I used 2)
2 cups chopped broccoli or cauliflower (I used 1/2 of a bunch of asparagus instead)
1 large potato, peeled and diced (I used 1 medium potato)
1 small zucchini (I used 1 large zucchini - about the length of a banana)
1 tbsp dried oregano
2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp crushed chillies (I used 3/4 - 1 tsp red pepper flakes)
**2 tsp epazote (not called for in the recipe but I find it counteracts the effects of the beans so I use it whenever I cook with beans)
1/3 cup tomato paste
6 cups vegetable broth
1 19 oz can Romano or white cannellini beans, drained and rinsed (I used white kidney beans)
1/4 fresh Parmesan cheese

In a large soup pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, carrot and celery and cook for 3 minutes (I cook the onions and garlic alone for a minute and then add the carrots and celery and cook for another 3 minutes - I like my onions a bit more cooked).

Add zucchini, asparagus (or broccoli or cauliflower), potato and herbs/chillies. Cook for another 3 minutes.

Stir in tomato paste to coat and then pour in the vegetable broth and stir in the beans. Bring to a boil and cook at a simmer, partially covered for about 1/2 hour (the recipe says 40 minutes but I prefer my veggies to still have a bit of bite to them).

Stir in Parmesan (if desired) before serving. Top with fresh basil if you like. I ate mine with my homemade honey whole wheat bread and some butter.

Enjoy! Thanks Longo's ;-)

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