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A Soup for the Season

October 20, 1994|BETTY ROSBOTTOM

A trip to a local farmers market provided much of the inspiration for this dish. Sweet red peppers, zucchini, yellow squash, a bunch of chicory and bouquets of fresh rosemary were abundant.

At home, I combined these ingredients with carrots, leeks, potatoes and celery from my refrigerator and cannellini beans from my cupboard. The vegetables, simmered in chicken stock flavored with a little tomato puree and spicy seasonings, were fork-tender after an hour of cooking.

To go with the soup, serve a salad of spinach, sliced sweet red onions and artichoke hearts, all tossed in a lemon-garlic dressing, served with a loaf of crusty sourdough bread bought at a local bakery.

VEGETABLE SOUP WITH PARMESAN CHEESE

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup diced carrots

1/2 cup chopped leeks, white parts only

1/2 cup diced celery

1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic

1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme

1 1/4 teaspoons dried rosemary, crushed

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

7 cups chicken stock, plus more if needed

1/4 cup tomato puree

2 sweet red peppers, stems and seeds discarded, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

3 medium red potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice

2 cups packed chicory, coarsely chopped

2 small zucchini, cut in half lengthwise and then cut into 1/4-inch slices

2 small yellow squash, cut in half lengthwise and then cut into 1/4-inch slices

1 (19-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed well under cold water

1 (4- to 6-ounce) piece imported Parmesan cheese, at room temperature

6 fresh rosemary sprigs, optional

Heat olive oil in large heavy pan over medium-high heat. When hot, add carrots, leeks and celery. Cook, stirring constantly, about 4 minutes. Add garlic, thyme, rosemary, salt and red pepper flakes. Cook and stir 1 minute. Add stock, tomato puree, red peppers, potatoes and 1 cup chicory. Stir to blend. Bring mixture to simmer. Reduce heat. Cover and cook at simmer until potatoes and sweet red peppers are tender, about 40 minutes.

Remove 1 1/2 cups of soup and puree in food processor, blender or food mill. Stir puree into soup. Add zucchini, squash, beans and remaining 1 cup chicory. Cook until vegetables are tender, 6 to 10 minutes more. Adjust seasonings to taste. Soup can be made 2 days ahead, cooled, covered and refrigerated. Reheat, stirring often, until hot.

Ladle soup into 6 individual soup bowls. Shave strips from Parmesan cheese, using vegetable peeler. Arrange 4 to 5 cheese strips on top of soup in each bowl. Garnish each with fresh rosemary sprig. Makes 6 servings.

Note : Extra tomato puree can be frozen and saved for another use.

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