When I was young, I remember often coming down to the kitchen early in the morning to find my mom next to the stove, a wooden spoon in one hand, a book she was currently reading in the other, absent-mindedly stirring a large pot of soup. She often made soup before she left for work, so that my sister and me would have something wholesome to eat when we came home from school. This is why a simmering pot on the stove symbolizes home for me and a bowl of hot soup equals not just comfort but also love. A love that I do my best to pass on – I made this particular soup two weeks ago on Sunday and packed a jar for my daughter to take with her to the dorm. This week I made it again (for the third time) and brought some to my sister-in-law who’d just had her first baby. Even though Esther is 17, I still remember how challenging it was to accomplish even the simplest tasks while taking care of a new-born! Bringing over a nutritious meal is sometimes the kindest thing you can do for someone else ( I know I would have appreciated it 😊).
I hardly ever follow a recipe when making a soup – thanks to my mother who is the true queen of the soup, it’s one of the things I feel pretty confident making. I like how a soup often evolves from whatever ingredients are on hand and I enjoy the calming process of chopping, stirring, tasting and seasoning. This particular soup however I’ve been making in pretty much the same way for weeks because it’s based on all the beautiful early fall harvest currently coming from our garden. Because of the abundance, the soup is loaded with vegetables – just what a hungry student or a brand new mom needs!
I have recorded exactly how I made the soup last time but please do not get hung up on an ingredient you might not have: you can easily swap an onion for the leek or 2 sticks of celery for the fennel, you can use parsley or thyme instead of rosemary, you can even omit the zucchini if someone in your household (I’m looking at my son here) does not like it. The parmesan rinds are optional but a delicious addition. If we eat this two days in a row, I will often bake corn bread or corn muffins to go with the soup on the second day, upping the coziness factor (mainly because it feels weird for me not to cook at all).
Fall vegetable soup
This recipe makes quite a lot of soup but that’s a good thing! It reheats well and you can keep it in the fridge for up to 3 days. Or you can share with someone who might need a bowl of love.
1 medium carrot
1 medium leek
1 smallish fennel
2 medium potatoes
2 tbsp olive oil
Pinch of salt and pepper
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 medium zucchini
2 tbsp of chopped rosemary and sage
700 ml (3cups) passata di Pomodoro
1 to 11/4 liter (4 to 5 cups) water
A few rinds of Parmesan cheese (optional)
1 cob of corn, kernels removed
About 250 g (1/2 pound) green beans
Start by chopping the carrot, leek, fennel and potatoes – I like to cut mine into roughly the same size which is about 8-10mm (1/3 inch) cubes. In a large pot, heat the olive oil. Add the cubed vegetables and season with salt and pepper. Sweat while stirring for about 5 minutes. Cut the zucchini into similarly sized cubes and add it, together with the chopped garlic and herbs, to the pot. Stir again for about 5 minutes. Add the passata, water and about 1 tsp salt + the parmesan rinds if using, bring everything to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Meanwhile prepare the corn and cut the beans into pieces about 3 cm (a little over an inch) long. Add them to the soup and cook for another 15 to 20 minutes. Check the seasoning and serve. You can finish the soup with: a drizzle of olive oil, freshly ground black pepper, a little coarsely grated parmesan, chopped parsley…