Just Roll With It
What’s that old adage about good sometimes being bad? Oh yeah – it’s both a blessing and a curse. “It” being the heaps of fresh produce I inevitably bring back either directly from the farm or from Headhouse. Don’t get me wrong – this is most definitely a blessing. But now, six months into the season, the novelty has worn a bit thin. I found myself staring into the fridge the other night, a huge bag of mish mashed vegetables signing softly (to the tune of Three Blind Mice), “We are fresh, we are fresh, won’t be for long, won’t be for long, what are you planning to do with us, we’d love to go into a dish tonight, for we are fresh…”
Okay, before one of you calls the local authorities to come pick up the crazy lady who hears singing vegetables, I’d best get back to my original point. There are only two things to be done with a big bag of fresh vegetables mocking your creativity – stir fry or soup. This time I opted for soup.
Well, my plan was a good one, but the execution was a bit wanting. The problem? In a word – eggplants. I had too many of them. My mission being to use up the whole bag of veggies in one fell swoop, I threw all six eggplants into the pot when I really should have just left it at two. All six gave the broth a distinct bitterness. I felt rather humbled. But when I removed most of the eggplant slices, added more vegetable broth and another zucchini to balance out the flavor and it was just fine – very savory, yet still fairly light without any tomato base to weigh it down.
So, go easy on the eggplants, but otherwise mix and match the ingredients in this basic vegetable soup recipe however you’d like.
Light and Savory Vegetable Soup
Inspired by a bag in my refrigerator
1 T. butter
1 T. extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 small sweet peppers, diced
2 or 3 small zucchini, tops trimmed and sliced (1/4 thick)
1 or 2 small pattypan squash, tops trimmed and sliced
2 small asian eggplants, tops trimmed and sliced
1/2 lb of okra, tops trimmed and sliced
1/2 lb of artichoke hearts – frozen or canned is fine
6 c. vegetable stock
1 T. all-purpose flour
salt and pepper
1 T. chopped fresh marjoram
1 T. chopped fresh oregano
1 T. chopped fresh sage
1 T. chopped fresh basil
1 c. small pasta (optional)
Begin by slicing the eggplant and salting it generously to draw out some of the bitterness. Set it in a colander to drain off while you slice the rest of the vegetables. When done prepping all the vegetables, place a large stew pot over medium-high heat. Put in the butter and oil to heat while you pat off the eggplant slices with some paper towel.
When oil and butter are hot, put onion, garlic and pepper in the pot and saute until translucent – about 3 or 4 minutes. Add a little salt and pepper. Next, add the squash, zucchini, and eggplants. Stir often until softened – about another 3 or 4 minutes. Sprinkle flour evenly over vegetables and toss well. Let cook, stirring once or twice, for another 2 or 3 minutes to cook off the “rawness” of the flour. The flour serves to thicken the broth a bit.
Add vegetable stock and bring to a rolling boil for 2 minutes. Lower heat and add okra and artichokes, along with another pinch of salt and pepper. Stir well and allow to simmer for 10 minutes. Add all the chopped herbs, stir, and simmer for another 10 minutes. If you’re adding the pasta, put it in at the same time as the herbs and be sure to continue simmering the soup until the pasta is soft.
(makes 4 generous servings)