Winter Market Soup
The last winter stock up market is a glorious, albeit bittersweet, event. Since it is the very last market of the season, it instills in me a sense of urgency; a compulsion to purchase all that I can to last me through the winter months. This market is the last great "Hurrah!” before entering a season of quiet.
Its not that I mind the quiet season. In fact, I feel that the winter months make me that much more grateful for the seasons of plenty. Since making a commitment to eat (mostly) seasonal produce, I feel that I've grown to truly appreciate the offerings of each season. When I came home from the market this past week, I was absolutely giddy about all of my purchases. I stood in my kitchen, surveying all that I had gotten: goat cheese, potatoes, onions, turnips, parsnips, squash, apples and salami. So much goodness, I thought my kitchen might explode!
That being said, I've been happily puttering away in the kitchen all week, figuring out ways to maximize all of the goodness. This particular recipe was born out of a desire to highlight my market purchases, coupled with an urge to clean out my fridge. I had a bunch of wilty chard in the fridge that was just begging to be used and I happened to have a few quarts of freshly made vegetable stock. The ingredients were aligning so nicely, I knew that I had little choice in the matter. I had to make soup!
So, I set about making the perfect winter vegetable soup. Since I had such a fantastic array of veggies to start with, I decided to keep the soup simple and let the veggies do the talking. The root vegetables added depth and density, so the soup didn't need beans or noodles. I envisioned the soup to be along the lines of a minestrone, so I added in canned tomatoes and a bit of diced zucchini to achieve this goal. The soup turned out to be everything that I hoped it would –a stunning tribute to root vegetables; a bright and rich bowl of wintery goodness; and a quick (healthy) weeknight meal.
Please note that this is not a hard-and-fast recipe…feel free to make changes and substitutions. The beauty of this soup is that it is a simple and wonderful way to use up whatever veggies you happen to have at home. If you have the ability to use homemade stock, I highly encourage you to do so (homemade stock just tastes so much better than store bought!). Below is the recipe for the soup I created earlier this week. Feel free to try my mix of veggies, or get creative and try your own variation!
WINTER MARKET: ROOT VEGETABLE SOUP
6 cups vegetable (or chicken) stock
1 can (fire-roasted) tomatoes, diced
1 large parsnip
2 small red potatoes (skin on)
2 small zucchini
2 stalks celery
A large handful of chard or kale, stems removed and roughly chopped (or whatever greens you have on hand)
1 white/yellow onion
1-2 cloves garlic
1 bay leaf
Dash of red chili flakes
Dash of cumin
Dash of paprika
Salt & pepper to taste
Peel parsnip & turnips. Chop potato, parsnip, zucchini, turnip into evenly sized cubes (1/4 inch). Dice celery and onion. Smash or mince the garlic cloves.
In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, heat 1 Tbl of olive oil over medium heat. Add diced onion and cook for 3-4 minutes, until fragrant. Add in celery and garlic and cook for 1-3 minutes more. Add in zucchini and parsnip, cook for a minute longer. Add in potato, turnip, canned tomatoes (and can juices), stock, and bay leaf. Season lightly with cumin, paprika, red chili flakes, and salt & pepper.
Bring the soup to a boil, then cover and reduce the heat to low. Allow to simmer for 30-45 minutes, or until all the vegetables are tender. When the soup is nearly ready, stir in the chard or kale and cook until tender (about 5 minutes). Taste, and adjust seasonings as needed. Serve immediately and garnish with fresh grated Parmesan, if you so desire.