Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Simple Green Soup--not really a recipe

Whoa-the dishes are actually matching this time!  Never happens here.

After a month of indulging in my favorite holiday treats, and making my traditional holiday meals, and going out to holiday gatherings, I crave something simple like soup.  Soup that doesn't have lots of cream, that's just made with wholesome ingredients, soup that is going to help me reach my goals of eating more vegetables.

I have a terrible problem of reading recipes but not following them precisely.  I'll get an idea of something I want to make, or I've got stuff from the farm share I need to figure out how to use, so off I go in search of recipes.  I'll look in my cook book stash, my bookmarked recipe files, and surf the internet.  Usually I will find 2 or 3 different ones that look appealing, then cobble together my own creation.  Generally, the result tastes pretty good.

Except for soup.

I have not yet mastered the technique of making soup without a recipe.  Sure, I know how to use good ingredients.  I know to sauté the veggies to get some caramelization at the start.  I know soup is better the next day.  But the seasonings/spices/salting--especially the salt--trips me up.  I'm so afraid of over-salting that my family has gotten used to adding a few grinds from the salt grinder at the table.

This soup is like the Pirate Code:  more of a guideline, really.  The next time I've got a pile of leftover vegetables, and kale, I'll make it in a slightly different way.  Still good, enjoyed with a good bread and a hunk of cheese.  What isn't good, enjoyed with a good bread and a hunk of cheese?  I could eat that morning, noon, and night.

But back to the soup.


Simple Green Soup

1-2 Tablespoons cooking oil of your choice
1 onion, coarsely chopped
2 carrots, (tops and tips to the composting pigs, peels to the Soup Pack) coarsely chopped
1 large bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1 and 1/2 cups assorted leftover prepped veggies (I had celery and 2 kinds of radishes)
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 quart beef broth (how I make mine here)
1 quart water
2 bullion cubes (I ran out of beef broth, so if you've got 2 quarts use 'em)
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
a massive amount of kale, washed and torn into smaller pieces (yeah, stems too)
1/2 package (6.75 oz) smoked sausage (optional) cubed and sautéed  

Heat a turn of oil over medium in your pretty purple pot.  Or whatever large (5+ quart) heavy bottomed pot you use for soup.  As you prep the veggies, drop them into the pot to start sautéing.  It doesn't much matter if they are not all uniform in size, between the simmering and the immersion blender it will all turn out fine.  
When all of the chopped veggies are combined with the hot oil, sauté for 10-15 minutes until the onions are soft and the rest have started to soften.
Add the liquids and thyme, bring barely to a gentle boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and partially cover.  Simmer for 30 minutes, up to an hour, stirring occasionally.  Add the massive amount of kale, stir to combine.  Simmer 10 more minutes or until kale is wilted.  Puree with an immersion blender (or carefully in small batches in a blender).  Or leave it all chunky if your family isn't picky like mine.
Add salt and pepper, because you will need some. Start with a teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper and go from there.
My family likes this with chunks of smoked sausage in it, so while the soup is simmering I fry up a pan of smoked sausages and add them to each bowl as a garnish.  

Your turn--what do you always need a recipe to make?  How do you figure out how much salt and pepper to add to soup?


  1. This looks delicious! I went to a cooking class a while ago and I was shocked by how much salt the teacher put in everything. But then I realized that lots of things taste better with a good amount of salt, so I've been less afraid to overdo it lately.

    1. Annemarie,
      I think cooking classes are great, because you can see how much salt is used. It's one thing to read about it, but to see it in action means more to me. I suppose I'm a visual learner. I hope to branch out and try a bit more.

  2. I always put a ton of salt in soup but then again, I love salty. I generally add salt and pepper while the onions and veggies are sauteeing and then I add some more when I add the liquid. I love soup this time of year, and anything with a hunk of bread and cheese is a winner in my book. Maybe throw in a book, a warm fire and you've got yourself the perfect evening.

    1. The perfect evening provided you've typed up all the recipes you made the end of November . . .

      Soon I can say I'll start the new year with a clean slate/no back log. It's only the 4th, right?

      That's a good idea to add during sautéing, I will try that.


  3. Perfect recipe to use in a Vitamix! Get one at!