Hearty Vegetable Soup

If you keep up on Canadian weather, I’m in one of those places where the “Polar vortex” has kept spring at bay and temperatures sub-zero. So instead of frolicking in dandelion greens and fiddleheads, it’s still winter fare as the snow falls outside. Soup weather: to help with the sniffles and warm the shivering bones, preferably while sitting in front of a crackling fire-place.

This is a super-simple yet deeply satisfying bowl of winter veggies. The spicing is minimal, so the quality and flavor of your vegetable broth is what will make or break it. I used an herbal broth heavy on fennel fronds, broccoli stalks and onion. The herbs (if you are into using them) included astragalus, jujube date, kombu and then a mix of chaga, shitake, maitake and reishi mushrooms.

What you need:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup dry beans (anything creamy like lima, navy or Great Northern will work; I used home-grown orca beans)
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 onions, finely diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 cup sherry (optional)
  • 4 oz. cremini mushrooms, sliced (about 1 cup)
  • 2 ribs of celery, cut on the diagonal
  • 3 small carrots, roll-cut (about 1 cup)
  • 1 turnip, cut into small triangles or 3/4″ dice
  • 2-3 small potatoes, cut into 1/2″ dice
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1-2 teaspoons oregano (fresh-dried with the flowers if you can get it, it doesn’t taste so strong)
  • 3 heaping teaspoons of dried parsley
  • 1/4 cup sherry (optional)
  • 7 cups of herbal broth (or a mix of veggie and mushroom bouillon)
  • 2 teaspoons salt (if using unsalted broth, to taste otherwise)

What you do:

  1. Soak the beans overnight with water to cover by 3-4”.
  2. Drain the beans and put in a pot with the bay leaves and water to cover by an inch or two. Bring to a boil, remove the rising scum, reduce heat and simmer until soft, creamy and breaking apart a bit. Drain, compost the bay leaves and set aside for later.
  3. In a thick-bottomed soup pot or dutch oven, heat the oil over a medium flame and add the onions.
  4. When the onions start to brown, add the carrots, celery, mushroom, garlic, oregano, parsley and thyme. Cook and stir until the water evaporates from the mushrooms and it starts to stick at the bottom of the pot.
  5. Deglaze with the sherry if using.
  6. Add the broth, turnip and potato and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer 15 minutes. Add the beans, remove the cover, and leave on low flame, stirring occasionally until the beans are warmed through – about 5 minutes. DSCN7170.JPG
  7. Add the salt and adjust seasoning as desired.
  8. Serve.

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