vegetable soup

Shredded Vegetable Soup

I grew up on homemade soups and stews, save for an occasional can of Campbell’s Tomato Soup in the pantry to serve alongside a grilled cheese sandwich. (Ahhh, childhood…) My father was, hell, still is the King of Refrigerator Soups. You know what I’m talking about: He created soups made by throwing whatever leftovers that were in the fridge into a big pot, and he cooked it until everything harmonized. Sometimes, I found the combinations to be a little weird (leftover chicken, black beans, and cauliflower did not appeal to my nine year old self), but I grew to embrace it. Like any lower-middle class family, we were frugal and used every bit of food we had. Nothing went to waste. A roast chicken carcass was turned into stock, and those little chicken bits made for the base of many amazing soups.

I still love to create a good Refrigerator Soup. I am definitely guilty of buying vegetables with grandiose plans in mind. Then, five days later, I’ll return to my fridge to see them sitting in the vegetable crisper, limp and hanging onto life.

Oops.

vegetable soup

Well, into the soup they go!

I am in love with this Shredded Vegetable Soup. I am a big fan of julienne-peeling and spiral-cutting my vegetables. I feel it gives them more oomph and adds tremendous volume to any dish. I am not the biggest fan of large chunks of vegetables in my soup. In this recipe, I opted to julienne peel the vegetables, giving them an almost noodle-like texture within the broth. Additional grains can be added, such as rice or quinoa, but here, I went simple and added Acini de Pepe. Finally, the turmeric and red pepper flakes both give an amazing depth of flavor.

vegetable soup

We’ve been lucky to have a relatively mild autumn here in NYC, but it’s still nice to eat a nice hot bowl of this soup, even if it’s 60 degrees outside.

Feel free to adjust this soup to any variation you choose! This is a base that can be greatly expanded upon.

vegetable soup

Shredded Vegetable Soup
(Serves Two)

Ingredients:

– 1 carrot, julienne shredded
– 1 medium zucchini, julienne shredded
– 2 cups broth of choice
– 1 cup water
– 2 cloves garlic, minced
– 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
– 1/4 cup Acini de Pepe pasta
– Dash of red pepper flakes
– Salt and pepper, to taste

Before We Get Started…

– If you do not have a julienne peeler, either thinly julienne slice vegetables, or, alternately, use a regular vegetable peeler to peel long ribbon-like strips.

Directions:

1.) In large pot, bring broth and water to a slow boil. Add garlic, turmeric, and Acini de Pepe. Cook for approximately 10 minutes or until Acini di Pepe is cooked through.

2.) Reduce heat to medium. Add carrots and zucchini to pot. Cook for approximately 90 seconds or until vegetables start to wilt. Add red pepper flakes and stir. Remove from heat.

3.) Serve immediately.

Chilled Cucumber Avocado Soup

The summer solstice has occurred, and, with it, the start of chilled soup season. The dog days of summer are upon us, if I can be clichéd. As I sit here, typing out this prose, it’s 90 degrees with a line of severe thunderstorms looming to the west. The humidity is making both my body and brain listless. The last thing I want to do cook, bake, or put much heat-induced effort into meal creation. Over the years, I have adapted a pretty strict summer diet. On any given night, I’m usually eating some combination of an avocado, cucumbers dressed with plain Greek yogurt and garlic powder, cheddar cheese, pineapple, prosciutto on toast, and unsweetened iced tea. It may lack in nutritional balance, but…damn. It’s always satisfying. The stove glares at me from afar, and I tell it, “I’ll see you again at the end of September.”

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So hot, even my cucumber is sweating!

Over the years, I’ve toyed with various cold soups, and the results have never really pleased me. Gazpacho is easy, yet admittedly time-consuming. I always find an excuse to buy it from the store because Westside Market / Fairway / Whole Foods / Samad’s Gourmet / anyone else makes it better than I do! (Damn self-loathing.) As for vichyssoise, my paternal grandmother, Mamie, had that on lock. I have yet to create a batch as good as hers. Then comes the oft-consumed cucumber yogurt soup. It’s simple. It’s light. It’s relatively filling. I can make it with four ingredients. However, one misstep in the recipe, and I’ll end up with unpalatable pale green water. Needless to say, I’ve made a lot of unpalatable plate green water over the years. I’ve played with ratios for more times than I care to count: more cucumbers, fewer cucumbers, different kinds of cucumbers, Greek yogurt instead of plain yogurt, fresh dill versus dried dill, less olive oil, you name it. However, I must mark June 22nd, 2015, as the day I finally got my figurative shit together and had my true “Aha!” moment.

Avocados, is there anything you can’t do?

My past cucumber yogurt soup recipes (or abominations, if I may continue to self-loathe) achieved a creamy mouth feel once I made the transition from plain to Greek yogurt, but the avocado gives it full body. Dare I say, fresh out of the blender, it’s almost fluffy. In addition, I decided to add some lemon zest and juice, helping it achieve a wonderful brightness.

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Goodbye unpalatable pale green water, hello full-bodied and bright moss green soup!

(Okay, I’m still working on better descriptive terms. One thing at a time, eh?)

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Chilled Cucumber Avocado Soup
(Serves Four)

Ingredients:

– 2 large cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and chopped
– 1 avocado, cubed
– 6 ounces plain Greek yogurt (full-fat)
– 1 & 1/2 cups cold water
– 1 teaspoon dried dill
– 1 teaspoon garlic powder
– Zest of 1 lemon
– Juice of half a lemon
– Salt and pepper, to taste

Before We Get Started…

– If making en masse and saving servings for lunches / dinners for the week, be sure to give each batch a good stir or shake before eating, as there tends to be a slight separation of ingredients after it’s sat in the fridge.

– Depending on the size of the blender / food processor being used to blend the soup, combine ingredients in batches, if necessary.

– If I do say so myself, these are best served with some freshly toasted crusty white bread and a few slices of prosciutto.

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Directions:

1.) Place all ingredients into a blender or food processor, and blend until creamy.

2.) Serve immediately, or place in fridge until ready to serve.

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Prosciutto Toasts and Cucumber Dreams, until next time…!