We all have our favorite vegetable soup. Maybe it came from a can or maybe your mother or grandmother used to make it but we all have that perfect memory in our recesses. And this is my favorite because it’s one of the first things I learned to cook as a young adult!
It’s funny, I recently heard someone reference “Chicken and Stars” on a television show and it instantly brought me back to when I was a kid. It was my absolute favorite when I was home sick in bed. And when I think about it now, it probably wasn’t very good. But it’s those memories from when someone took care of us that stick with us. And there is nothing like homemade soup. My father always says that the sign of a great chef is if they can make good soup!
This soup takes a bit of prepping but it’s worth it. Once everything is in the pot, it does the rest for you. Try to get the best quality, freshest vegetables possible, as that is one of the main reasons this soup is so delicious.
This is loosely based on a recipe from, Italy: The Vegetarian Table. It’s one of the first vegetarian cookbooks I received and I’ve used it so many times over the years. I’ve always joked that I must have been Italian in another life because I would eat pasta, tomatoes and cheese every day (if my stomach let me!). This is one in a series of ethnic vegetarian cookbooks, I also have Mexico and America but this one is my favorite.
Ingredients: Part 1
3 TBs olive oil
6 canned plum tomatoes, chopped, plus a cup of the juice
1 large onion, chopped
3-4 potatoes, diced
3-4 celery stalks, sliced, plus the inner leaves
3-4 carrots, sliced
2 C butternut squash, diced
12 C water
salt and pepper
2 TBs fresh parsley, chopped
Combine all the ingredients in a large pot and season well. Cover and bring to a boil then allow to simmer about 40 minutes.
Ingredients: Part 2
2 medium zucchini, sliced and cut in half
1 C green beans, cut into small pieces
1 C cauliflower or broccoli, small florets
1 C pasta, shells or other small-size pasta
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
Add the zucchini and other vegetables and the pasta and cook for about 8 minutes longer. Add the fresh garlic and allow to simmer about 5 minutes more. The pasta will absorb the liquid so it is best not to overcook it.
This is the type of soup where some of the ingredients are negligible. If you don’t have cauliflower on hand, use broccoli. The green beans won’t be missed as long as you have the rest. One item I must say that cannot be missed is the butternut squash. It adds a dimension of flavor that melts in your mouth. It is dynamite! And like most mélanges, these flavors only intensify and get better with time so the next day’s lunch will be fantastic…
Serve in a shallow bowl with a little glug of olive oil and freshly grated parmesan or pecorino cheese over the top. Fresh pepper and parsley would add color and flair to this hearty and warming soup. This has been so perfect during these cold weeks after the holidays but imagine how delicious it might be with your fresh vegetables from the summer garden. Enjoy!