Winter Vegetable Soup
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Serves: 6-8 Servings
 
Here is one of my all-time favorite winter soups, and one to picture yourself eating while sitting in front of a roaring fire, while outside, Mother Nature is throwing everything she has at us. It’s chock full of flavor with a big variety of vegetables, a ton of dried herbs for more flavor, and some beans for color, deep flavor, and protein. This guy doesn’t require much tending once all the ingredients are prepped and is happy just to bubble along on its own until ready. Another plus is that you can pretty much make this recipe just the way you want to. This recipe makes a soup that is so thick you can probably stand a fork up in it, because that’s what I like. If you like a more brothy soup, just add more liquid. If you’d rather add different vegetables – go for it. If you want to add some additional protein like sausage or whatever, go on ahead. If you want to change up the herbs – also entirely up to you. The goal here is to make this exactly how YOU want it to be. This recipe makes a lot, but never fear – if you don’t eat it all up, it freezes beautifully for the next stormy day.
Ingredients
  • FOR THE SOUP
  • 1 large onion, diced into ½ inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 quarts chicken broth (or vegetable broth, or water)
  • 1, 14.5 ounce can stewed or diced tomatoes
  • 1, 14.5 ounce can tomato puree or crushed tomatoes
  • 2-3 carrots, each peeled and cut into three pieces, then slice those pieces down the middle and cut each piece into ½ inch slices
  • 3-4 ribs of celery, cut on the bias into ½ inch thick slices
  • 1 yellow, red, or orange bell pepper, cut into ½ inch pieces
  • 2 turnips, peeled, each turnip cut in half, then sliced into ½ inch pieces. Cut each slice into ½ inch pieces.
  • 2 generous tablespoons of your favorite dried herb combinations. I used Herbs de Provence for this recipe, but you could also use Italian seasoning or any combination that works for you. Easy does it on the rosemary, since it’s so strong it can take over the whole thing, and also go easy on the sage if you use it. Thyme, marjoram, and oregano are all good choices and can be used with a fairly heavy hand. Just keep tasting until it seems right to you.
  • 2 zucchinis, each cut in half lengthwise, then each halved lengthwise, then cut into ½ inch pieces.
  • 1, 15.5 ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1, 15.5 ounce can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • Optional: 2 cups pasta of your choice that has already been cooked, drained, and drizzled with olive oil to prevent sticking together.
  • FOR THE GARNISHES
  • Probably about 2 cups grated cheese of your choice
  • About ½ cup of pesto
  • ¼ cup or so of extra virgin olive oil
  • Toasted, broiled or grilled ciabatta (or other variety) bread that has been generously buttered
  • Your favorite crackers
Instructions
  1. FOR THE SOUP
  2. In a large soup kettle (this guy will have to hold one gallon), heat the canola oil on medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion starts to caramelize.
  3. Add 1 quart of chicken stock to the pot, then add the stewed and crushed tomatoes, carrots, celery, bell pepper, turnips, and dried herbs. Add more stock until the vegetables are covered. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until the vegetables are softened and cooked through. This might take awhile, up to 30 minutes or more, but not a lot of oversight is required. Just let it bubble away and come back once in a while to check on it. Add more broth if needed.
  4. When the vegetables have finished cooking, reduce the heat to a low simmer and stir in the zucchini, cannellini and kidney beans. Stir gently at this point because the beans and zucchini will break up if handled too much. Cover the pot and simmer until the zucchini is cooked through.
  5. Take a look – this soup is going to be thick. If you don’t like a super thick soup, just add more liquid until it suits you. There should be enough extra chicken broth in this recipe to do the trick, but if not, just add water or more broth.
  6. Now is the time for final tasting:
  7. Make sure the level of salt and heat (pepper) work for you. If not, add more.
  8. How about the herbs? If you’d like more, now is the time to go for it.
  9. Is the soup too acidic for your taste? Sometimes soups with tomato added can taste too acidic for
  10. some people. If that’s the feeling you get, just add a little granulated sugar (by little I mean start with 1 teaspoon and go from there, or honey or agave. Soon you’ll get the right balance that works.
  11. Note: I also like to add about ¼ cup of good olive oil right about now. It adds a nice backdrop to the soup. Remember: fat = flavor, so the oil will help enhance the overall flavor factor. I have also been known to stir in some garlic butter if there happens to be any hanging around – that is a major flavor booster also.
  12. TO SERVE
  13. Here’s where it gets really fun, and it’s nice if there are enough choices so everybody eating gets to add their own combination of things.
  14. After scooping into bowls, I like to have one or two kinds of grated cheese available, plus a bottle of good extra virgin olive oil, and some pesto if there happens to be any hanging around. You get the idea – whatever you like is fair game here.
  15. Add grilled, broiled or toasted bread, crackers, softened butter, and you are home free.
Recipe by Bird's Nest Bites at https://birdsnestbites.com/winter-vegetable-soup/