Fire Roasted Tomato Vegetable Soup

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.Lacinato (Dinosaur) Kale

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:Fire roasted tomato vegetable soup

Recipe: Fire Roasted Tomato Vegetable Soup

Ingredients

  • 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)

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil over medium high heat in a large pot.
  2. Add onions and garlic; saute for about 2 minutes or until soft.
  3. Add the tomatoes to deglaze the pan and add remaining vegetables and spices.
  4. Pour in enough vegetable stock to cover the vegetables.
  5. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, for about an hour or until vegetables are desired consistency and flavors have melded.
  6. Serve topped with freshly grated parmesan or grana padano. Crusty bread sops up the soup nicely.

Quick Notes

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.

Variations

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!

Posted in gluten-free, vegetarian | 3 Comments

Creamy Pasta with Grapes

Upon eating a few bites of last night’s dinner, my husband, Dan, said that this delightfully simple dish was blog-worthy. And so it begins.

pre-pasta and cheeseThere’s something about the orange zest and juice blending with the goat cheese that makes a luscious cream sauce, but without any of the fuss and added fat that a normal cream sauce requires. The shredded watercress wilts just slightly when tossed with the warm pasta and adds a nice peppery bite to the overall flavor. Each grape provides a burst of juicy sweetness to balance out the overall tangy flavor.

I’m sure the original recipe intends for wheat pasta to be used, but the recipe did not suffer by using corn pasta, even to my durum pasta-loving husband. An added bonus about this recipe is that it pretty much takes only as long as it takes to boil and cook pasta, which was exactly what we needed on our first evening after seemingly never-ending holiday travels.

This was the first recipe we tried out of my new Christmas present, The New InterCourses: an aphrodisiac cookbook. My expectations for the rest of the cookbook are now hopefully not unwittingly high.

Creamy Pasta with GrapesCreamy Pasta with Grapes
Adapted from The New InterCourses: an aphrodisiac cookbook

6 ounces corn pasta spirals
2.5 ounces goat cheese, crumbled into small pieces
4 ounces white seedless grapes
1/2 bunch watercress, trimmed and shredded (about 1/2 cup yield)
2 scallions, chopped
Juice and zest of 1/2 orange
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, prepare the rest of the ingredients in a medium bowl. Drain the pasta and toss with the other ingredients. Serve warm.

The original recipe called for 2 tablespoons of olive oil as well, which I didn’t notice until typing up the recipe. We did not miss its omission! I did, however, add an extra half ounce of goat cheese, because the little package of goat cheese goodness (Laura Chenel’s Chabis & Pepper goat cheese, to be exact) was 5 ounces and was easier to just split in half. Besides, who wouldn’t want more cheese?

Posted in 15 minutes or less, gluten-free, vegetarian | Tagged , , | 1 Comment