Hearty Veggie and Chewy Cheese Soup

veggie soup

Strudel I just made a batch of this soup the other day, when it occurred to me that (is it possible?!) maybe I hadn’t posted it on the blog… which seemed somewhat cruel… which caused me to comb through the site trying to find it somewhere (which has both made me wonder about our indexing skills – what if it’s on the site and I just can’t find it?! – but I think it’s truly not here!)

 

There’s a million vegetarian soup recipes in the world, and there’s lots to love out there (especially this one and this one). But, I find that most of these aren’t stand-alone meals; I’m often making a biscuit or scone and salad or other green veggie on the side. Admittedly, we’re good eaters in my house (so maybe that’s just us), but most of our soup need a little something else to make dinner feel like it’s rounded out.

 

Enter this soup: with lots of leafy greens, my green veggie quotient is satisfied; the root vegetables are hearty and satisfying; the beans provide protein, and the pasta adds in my much-loved carbs; and the best part?! The deliciously, chewy, chunky pieces of cheese that make this soup extra special and and all the more satisfying.

 

So where do these magical cheese chunks come from? Parmesan rind! The idea (and basic recipe) comes from Mark Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.” The tough rind is added in at the beginning, so has time soften as the soup cooks, but holds its shape throughout. The end result is a really delicious soup with some extra love (in the form of cheese, of course) that sets this soup apart from many others.

 

Like most Bittman recipes, he provides more of a guide than an ingredient list. I’ve typed up his structure for the soup, and also included how I made it this time.

 

And a few notes I should include: I always seem to add more veggies than I should, and when that happens, I just put in more water so that all the veggies are covered. The soup stays well in the fridge for about a week afterward, though some of the pasta and veggies start to absorb the broth; again, I just add more water as necessary. The soup has enough flavor that the extra water doesn’t impact the flavor. Also, I’ve seen shops like Whole Food sell just Parmesan rinds; I buy Parm in large blocks at Costco, and always cut off the rinds (and cut them in to small chunks) to freeze them in anticipation of making this soup.

 

 

Hearty Veggie and Chewy Cheese Soup

slightly modified from “How to Cook Everything Vegetarian” by Mark Bittman

makes: 4-6 servings

time: 60 minutes

 

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped small

1 carrot, chopped small

1 celery stalk, chopped small

1 1/2-2 cups hard vegetables, like potatoes, winter squash, parsnips, or turnips, peed if necessary and cut into smaller than 1/2-inch dice (I used 1 medium potato)

salt and pepper

6 cups vegetable stock or water (my standard veggie broth is Better than Bullion)

1 can chopped tomatoes (include the juice)

1 Parmesan rind, cut into bite-size pieces

1 1/2-2 cups soft vegetables, like green beans, cooked dried beans, zucchini or summer squash, or dark leafy greens like kale or collards, peeled if necessary and cut into smaller than 1/2 inch diced) (I like to add both a dark green leafy veggie and something else – for this soup, it was 1/2 a bunch of chard leaves and 1 yellow zucchini)

1 can cooked beans, such as kidney, white, chickpea, canellini, etc., drained and rinsed (I used chickpeas)

1/2 cup small pasta, such as ditalini

Grated Parmesan for serving

 

Put oil in a large, deep pot or casserole, over medium heat. When hot, add the onion, carrot, and celery. Cook, stirring, until the onion softens, about 5 minutes.

 

Add the hard vegetables and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, for a minute or two, then add the stock, canned tomatoes, and Parmesan rind; bring to a boil, then adjust the heat so that the mixture bubbles gently. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the veggies are fairly soft, about 15 minutes.

 

Add the soft vegetables and beans and adjust the heat once again until the mixture bubbles gently. Then add the small pasta, and cook until the veggies are tender and the pasta cooked, about 10-15 minutes. Taste, adjust the seasonings, and serve, topped with lots of grated Parmesan.

 

 

 

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