Monday, February 20, 2012

Giant Pots: Veggie Soup

Giant pots of food get me excited for so many reasons. Most importantly, they are the gifts that keep giving, especially when you work a soul crushing 9-5 job that often requires you to take lunch at your desk. So I make a giant pot of something on a Sunday and bring a vat of it to work to parcel out throughout the week. This helps me avoid lunchtime decision fatigue and spending 5-10 bucks on something I don’t really want to eat, and it provides a whole ton of vitamins I can be happy about. (As opposed to getting a fast burger and sitting at my desk all day.) Veggie soup. Have at it.

Ingredients: Everything in the picture plus chicken or veggie broth (no salt) and a dollop of red sauce at the end. The things in the bowl are soaking kidney beans, but you can replace those with a canned version (rinsed). You’ll use only half of the onion, the eggplant, the red pepper and the green pepper. Honestly, you could really tinker with the amounts of ingredients one way or the other and be fine. Most vegetables play well together.

Caveat: You MUST salt & pepper at every stage in the process. It won't taste quite right if you just add it at the end. Take note!

1. Dice several cloves garlic, ½ the onion, the whole Serrano pepper and sauté them in extra virgin olive oil in a soup pot until they’re soft. Salt & pepper. Medium heat.

2. Add chopped tomatoes, stew for a couple minutes.

3. Throw in chopped potatoes to soften for a few minutes. I like to do the potatoes early, but I bet you could toss them in with step 4 with no serious consequences.

4. Chop up ½ eggplant, ½ of each pepper, whole yellow squash, zucchini. Throw in the whole mess and toss everything around so that the liquid on the bottom coats everything. Add more olive oil if you like. You’ll want to let these simmer, covered, until all the veggies have softened up and gotten to know each other. About 15 minutes. If it gets extra hot and sizzly during this time, throw in just a little of the broth, lower the heat and keep covered. Basically, you want to keep the veggies from frying.

5. Add all of the broth and the kidney beans.

6. Let it simmer on low for a super long time. 2 hours or longer, covered. If you’re using the dry beans that you soaked (instead of the can), then make sure you let it go for at least 2 hours because they need to cook. No matter what you do, it’s going to taste better the next day. This is the nature of a big pot of food.

7. I add a dollop of red sauce (like Classico 3 cheese) to the pot right before I serve it. This doesn’t do much to the color/style of the soup, so don’t despair if you’re not into red sauce. I just find the unique combo of Italian spices in red sauce really works with the veggies and ultimately gives the soup this “mm, and what is that delicious thing I can’t put my finger on?” quality.

This recipe will yield about 10 medium bowls of soup, and the ingredients cost about $12 (I get the organic stuff). You’ll have leftovers of most of the produce. If you want to stretch the meals so you don’t need seconds, serve it over a hunk of rice. The finished product does well with some added spice, so add chile powder, pimenton (spicy paprika) or Sriracha. 

Remember how I told you I'm terrible with pictures? See below for an example of both that and the finished product.


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