Saturday, October 22, 2011

Harvest Tomato Soup

I have been CRAVING autumn vegetable soups like CRAZY, but San Francisco's Indian Summer weather has just not been cooperating. Temps in the 80s put a damper on hovering over the stove or crock-pot or roasting vegetables in the oven. We'll occasionally get a break in the heat, just enough to get my hopes up and start planning a grocery list, but every time it turns out it's just teasing me. Well, yesterday did not get nearly as hot as forecasted, and it even cooled off after the sun went down, so I decided to wait no longer and pounced, making a quick, simple vegetable soup to take advantage of this window of opportunity, however brief. I dare to hope that Fall is really here, because now my head is swimming with all the soups I want to make and I don't want to stop now I've started.

I took the inspiration for this soup from the nerdiest of places, which makes me even happier about it. Wil Wheaton of Star Trek and Internet fame recently posted the recipe for a soup he made to combat a nasty case of sinusitis. It fit all the qualifications I desired for last night's meal: quick, full of whatever vegetables looked good in the market and that I had in the crisper, and with something different from my usual recipes to inspire me. The difference that caught my eye: he used tomato juice as the base. Of course I tweaked the recipe and made it my own, and I encourage you to do the same. This soup can be extremely versatile. I already have big plans for other ways I can use V8 (which I used instead of tomato juice for added flavor and nutrition) to pump up other soups.

The husband man said it was probably the healthiest thing he's eaten in 5 years, yet he still enjoyed it. Of course, he said it would be better with barley (his response to any barley-less soup) and pork (his response to any porkless dish of any sort). I do think some ham, pancetta, or bacon would be great in this, but I was in the mood for a veggie-only soup. I also have an idea brewing for a slightly less tomatoey beef barley version I'm sure will please him. Big plans, my friends, big plans.

Harvest Tomato Soup

Wil's version was completely vegan. Omit broth and replace with water or vegetable broth to take it back to vegan status. Serves 4 as an entree, 6 as a starter.

1 Tbsp oil
1 med onion, chopped
4 stalks celery hearts, chopped
3 carrots, chopped

2 large cloves garlic, pressed
2 cups small broccoli florets
2 cobs corn, kernels removed
3 packed cups prepared* kale
1 can tomatoes, with liquid
1 can kidney beans, with liquid
3 cups V8
2 cups chicken broth
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. dried thyme

In a large soup pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Saute onions, celery, and carrots for 4 minutes. Add garlic and saute another minute. Add remaining ingredients and stir well to combine. 

Bring to a boil. Reduce to a strong simmer and cover. Simmer for 30 minutes or until all the vegetables are tender.

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