In which the world of culinary hedonism is explored with a cup and a half of curiosity, a heaping tablespoon of passion and a dash of clumsiness.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Ninety-Seventh Post ~ Hearty Tomato Vegetable Soup

Today's high was 63 degrees, and I was in heaven in my jeans and hoodie.  I'm what you might call an "Autumn-Winter" person, and today's weather made me feel the change of the seasons and rejoice with it.

And what better way to rejoice than through cooking?

I decided to make a pot of vegetable soup to enjoy throughout the week.  With that decision in mind, I went a little nuts in Wegman's produce department.  Here's what I got, but you can choose any veggies you wish!

~ Carrots, onion and celery (for the classic mirepoix base that my family seems to gravitate toward for all things soup)
~ Acorn squash (if Autumn were a veggie, this would be it)
~ Portobello mushroom (for the sheer sake that I've never cooked with one before)
~ Largish tomato
~ Zucchini (locally grown, of course)
~ Handful leftover fingerling potatoes
~ Fresh herbs (rosemary, sage and oregano - As Wegmans didn't stock any, I found myself giggling over the pun-ready thought, "Why, I won't have any THYME this week!")
~ Four beef bullion
~ Dash white wine
~ Sprinkling of white pepper
~ One clove garlic, coarsely chopped
~ ...And one mystery ingredient which shall be exposed later

So I went home and set to merrily chopping my veggies.  I had about a half-pot full of water (my traditional dutch oven in which I make all my soup) boiling at this time, and into the pot went the coarsely chopped celery, onion and carrots, soon to be joined by the dash white wine and herbs.  Next went some fingerlings.

I pierced the squash and microwaved it for one minute to make slicing it easier.  Then I cut it in half, scooped out the seeds, and cubed it and tossed it in the pot, skin and all.

Next went the portobello, the zucchini and the tomato, skin on as well.  After that went the garlic and the pepper.  By now, things were starting to smell real good.  The problem was that it was tasting a bit bland.  I added some beef bullion and a bit more salt, but to no avail.  Just at that moment, my mama called.

: : PAUSE : :

Somewhere in our ancient history as humans, mothers leaned with their daughters over the crude vessels they had fashioned to hold the night's stewed offerings, whispering to them that if they just added a pinch more of that, or a dash more of this, it just might be a bit more like they remembered it from their childhoods.

Truly, life has changed little since then.  I cheerfully announced that I was making a stab at vegetable soup for the first time, and my mother suggested...

Spaghetti sauce.

Seriously.  I was a little befuddled too.  "Or," she said, "I would add V8 juice to our vegetable soup.  That's what gave it that kick you liked."

So THAT'S why the V8 juice would show up in our cart when I would join my mother for trips to the store.  God knows I'd never DRINK the stuff...

: : UNPAUSE : :

So since I didn't have any V8 juice around, I thawed out a frozen third of a jar of Wegman's spaghetti sauce from the freezer and dumped it in.  The soup slowly took on a more minestrone appearance and smell and - yep - it started to smell more familiar.

(I peeked at the ingredients, and aside from the olive oil, all of the ingredients in the spaghetti sauce were ones I had added already - onion, tomato, salt, spices, garlic... but perhaps in more concentrated form).

I slowed it down to a simmer, tasting here and there.  I'm new at vegetable soup, and after turning off the heat and letting it sit for a while, I was surprised to find that the rind of the squash stayed in tact with a bit of flesh left, but the pulpier parts of it seemed to naturally incorporate into the broth, giving it a wonderfully sweet taste and rich texture.

I enjoyed a bowl of it for dinner along with a few slices of a multigrain baguette and a glass of Tall Poppy Shiraz.  All in all, a satisfying meal that I'll enjoy throughout the week!

Yours in the love of good food and wine (and a few words from the wise),

The blogger is not an experienced chef. She takes no responsibility for the quality of the meals prepared while following her advice. Use your own judgment regarding cooking times and proper food handling.