Having recently moved from Dallas to the San Francisco Bay Area (quite a change, I must say!), I’ve become quite enamored with my local Mountain View farmer’s market. Even though I’ve now been lucky enough to go almost every Sunday morning for the past few months (even the rain can’t keep me away), I still feel like I’m in a surreal dreamland of unimaginably large kiwi fruit and carrots, strawberries even through “winter,” more citrus varieties than I knew existed (even though I grew up in Florida!), and even fractals.
This week, I was inspired by the beautiful Lacinato kale (also known as Dinosaur kale) to make a minestrone-like vegetable soup for my husband, Dan, who has a soft spot for minestrone and also happens to be getting over a cold. Armed with the kale, a bunch of fresh, organic celery, a general description of how to make a good vegetable soup from my mom, and other goodies leftover in my fridge or pantry–including half of a Chantenay carrot from last week’s market (which, I have to say, is really a caricature of a carrot, both in size and flavor – Dan says they scream Bugs Bunny at him)–I came up with the following:
Recipe: Fire Roasted Tomato Vegetable Soup
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
- 6-7 stalks celery, including leaves, chopped
- 6-7 carrots, sliced or chopped
- 1 bunch kale, trimmed (center vein removed) and chopped
- 32 oz can crushed fire roasted tomatoes
- 2 bay leaves
- a few sprigs of fresh thyme
- freshly ground black pepper
- 2-3 inch parmesan or grana padano rind
- 4-5 cups vegetable stock
- parmesan or grana padano, grated (optional)
- Heat the oil over medium high heat in a large pot.
- Add onions and garlic; saute for about 2 minutes or until soft.
- Add the tomatoes to deglaze the pan and add remaining vegetables and spices.
- Pour in enough vegetable stock to cover the vegetables.
- Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, for about an hour or until vegetables are desired consistency and flavors have melded.
- Serve topped with freshly grated parmesan or grana padano. Crusty bread sops up the soup nicely.
To save a little time in preparation, chop all the vegetables but the kale. Once you throw in the rest of the veggies to start cooking, take your time with the kale and throw it in whenever you’re done with it. The kale doesn’t need as much time to cook, but it also does hold up well if you cook it the whole time.
To make this more like a traditional minestrone with pasta, add 1/2 cup small pasta in the last 10-15 minutes and cook until al dente. You may want to add a cup or so more water or broth, since the pasta will absorb some of it.
Diet type: Vegetarian
Diet (other): Low calorie, Reduced fat, Reduced carbohydrate, Gluten free
Number of servings (yield): 6
I have to give credit to Martha Rose Shulman’s cookbook, Mediterranean Harvest, for introducing me to the idea of using a parmesan rind in soup. It adds a rich, almost meaty flavor.
I had grana padano on hand, though, and it seems to have worked pretty well. My cat also liked the idea that perhaps I might drop a few shreds.
For the thyme, I used some fresh lime thyme Dan’s mom bought me at the farmer’s market last week – I don’t know if it really made a difference in the soup, but it sure was fun to use and smell on my hands!
I made something really similar a couple of weeks ago… I added a can of rinsed canellini beans to give it some protein cred. Ash has really lost some weight!
Yeah, he’s almost svelte! Alas, that means he’s getting into a lot more mischief, too, since he’s discovered he can jump higher…
We made this soup tonight and it was awesome! Us and our guests were very happy. A couple of notes: We didn’t have any used parmesan, but Whole Foods actually sells parmesan rinds (“for the dogs”) for dirt cheap, so that worked out nicely. I hadn’t used the parmesan rind idea before, so thanks! Also, as you’d recommended to me, we wanted to add quite a few Italian spices to this, so we used a tablespoon or so of Tuscan Sunset from Penzeys.
We used purple kale, which relayed some of its pretty color into the soup. The only part of the soup that Simon commented on was the kale, which he liked, so I guess that is a recommendation!
Laura had some orzo that she wanted to use, which we added as a pasta. It was yummy. For anyone looking to use orzo, I’d suggest about 1/2 cup in a recipe of this size. And we definitely had to add more broth.
Another thing we had to figure out is what type of wine to drink with this soup—thanks, Alisa, for helping me sort that one out! The Italian blend of 60% Montepulciano/40% Sangiovese worked out quite nicely in this case!