December 28, 2010

Closing the Door

We are almost done.

The year is nearly at a close and the hustle and bustle of the holiday season is breathing its last breath as we get ready to ring in the new year.

It's not that 2010 has been a particularly bad year, it's just that I'm ready for a new start.  It's this way every December, as January creeps closer, I realize how ready I am for something new and fresh.  A new year with new promises and a clean slate, 2011, I have big plans for you.  I know the resolutions we make and swear by in the first new days of the year get left by the wayside as life takes over, but this year, let's be practical.  Let's resolve for happiness and health and to being better people.

This December brought flooded roads, malls, parking lots, stadiums, houses.  Mudslides.  Super saturated soil and downed trees.  I kid you not when I say it took me 3 hours to get out of a small parking lot the other day in the middle of my traditional last minute shopping.  But there was also family and friends and the reminder of how truly blessed I really am to have what I do and the people who surround me every day.  It's been swell, 2010 but it's time to move on.

I know this soup doesn't look like much - muddy shades of green and chock full of vegetables - but it's the perfect bowl for chilly evenings and recovering from plates full of rich, celebratory food.  The paste of parsley, basil, garlic and onions that you saute at the very beginning will fill your house with such delicious aromas it'll be tempting to climb right into the pot.  Luckily it's a quick soup to make and you'll be eating in no time.  Toast a hunk of crusty bread, swipe it through the soup, clean the bowl and I'm pretty sure you won't be missing those piles of cookies any more.

Cheers, everyone and see you in the new year!

Umbrian Vegetable Soup
Adapted from Saveur, Issue #130

Just a small tweak here and there.  I didn't have the called for frisee so I used escarole in it's place, this mildly bitter green was a good substitute even if it did contribute to the dull green hue.  I also tossed in a small rind of parmesan with the water for a little extra flavor boost.  This soup freezes and thaws beautifully, which is nice if you're just a few people and you don't want the same dinner several nights in a row.

4 servings

1⁄2 cup packed basil leaves
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley 
4 cloves garlic
1⁄2 medium onion, cut into chunks
8 oz. red new potatoes, cut into 1⁄2" cubes
3 stalks celery, minced
2 medium carrots, minced
2 plum tomatoes, cored and minced
4 cups water
Kosher salt, to taste
1 small rind of Parmesan or Romano
1 14oz can cannellini beans, rinsed
1 cup fresh or frozen green peas
1⁄2 head escarole, leaves cut into bite-size pieces (about 4 cups)
salt and pepper
Freshly grated parmesan for serving

Place half the basil, 2 tablespoons olive oil, parsley, garlic, and onions in the bowl of a food processor and process until slightly chunky. Heat remaining oil in an 3-qt. pot over medium-high heat and add herb–garlic mixture. Cook, stirring often, until no liquid remains, about 5 minutes.

Add potatoes, celery, carrots, and tomatoes. Cook, stirring often, until vegetables are golden brown, about 6 minutes. Add salt and 4 cups water and cheese rind and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.

Stir in beans, peas, and escarole and cook until greens are wilted and just tender, about 10 minutes; season with salt and pepper and stir in remaining basil. To serve, ladle soup into bowls, sprinkle with parmesan.

1 comment:

  1. I tried Umbrian Vegetable Soup at home yesterday and wanna tell you that its yummy and maddening.My children liked it very much.I also made Manchow soup,but ignoring that they had Umbrian soup.