I love to eat. Other than fashion, it is my favorite hobby. My love for food naturally developed into a love for cooking. I'm certainly not a chef but I have a knack for putting together fun and tasty meals. A handy skill when you have 2 picky children.
When you love food as much as I do, you don't always eat healthy and I'm certainly guilty of that. Desserts, pasta, freshly baked breads, cheese, anything salty (especially potato chips) are all things I love and will indulge in from time to time. But I also love to eat wonderful, healthy, whole foods. Some of my favorite cooking involves fresh vegetables and other wholesome ingredients. That includes this hearty versatile soup. I call it refrigerator soup because it's a great way to use up all those ingredients you have in your fridge before they go bad. It's also fantastic for freezing for an easy busy day dinner. So here is how it is made.
I start with a flavorful base by making a wonderful broth to start. The ingredients include:
- Basil, 1 bunch
- Oregano, 1 bunch
- Sage, 1 bunch
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 whole chili pepper
- 3 whole star anise
- 4 kaffir lime leaves
- 1 stalk lemongrass, coarsely chopped
- 3 whole garlic cloves
- 1/4 cup whole peppercorns
- Tops of 1 celery stalk, leaves included
- 1 onion, cut in half
- Course stems of one bunch kale (reserve leaves for later)
- 8 cups vegetable stock
Place all ingredients in a stockpot. Cover vegetables with stock. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 1 and 1/2 hours. Strain and set aside.
Roasted Veggies for Soup
The next step is to put your ingredients together for the soup. I used:
- 2 small eggplants
- 1 large summer squash
- 1 large red onion
- 3 small carrots
- 1 block firm tofu
- Salt and pepper to taste
These vegetables and the tofu will benefit from being roasted. The caramelization will intensify the flavors and bring out their sweetness. Cut all the ingredients into bite size pieces. Mix with olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast in a 400 degree F oven for 40 minutes. Set aside
Putting It all Together
The final step is to bring everything together. My ingredients include:
- 2 Tbs coconut oil
- 4 celery stalks,chopped
- 1 green pepper, chopped
- 2 large hands full of green beans, cut into bite size pieces
- Reserved kale leaves, chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
In a large stockpot saute celery and green pepper in coconut oil until soft and translucent, about 8 minutes. Add green beans and cook stirring for 2 more minutes. Add roasted vegetable and reserved broth. Bring to a boil and then lower heat. Simmer for 20 minutes. Add kale and cook for 10 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper and enjoy.
The most important ingredient you can add is your own creativity. I gave the soup an Asian flare. You can change up some of the ingredients to add your own touch. Take out the star anise, kaffir lime leaves, and lemongrass. Add cumin and cilantro for more of a Mexican flavor. Garnish with chopped avocado to finish it off. Or use bouquet garni for more of a french twist. Serve with a crusty baguette. This soup is vegetarian but if you prefer you can use chicken stock and chopped chicken breast instead of tofu. Maybe you can use spinach instead of kale. Or maybe both. Mix it up to adjust to your own taste, or the ingredients you have on hand. That, after all, is the joy of cooking. Go ahead and discover it. And tell me about your own variations on this theme.