Friday, February 02, 2007

Vegetable Soup

Here is another article from the San Mateo County Times:

Beef up vegetable soup without meat for hearty winter meal
By Russ Parsons, Los Angeles Times

IN the face of such recent challenges as freezing temperatures, battling the flu or recovering from the lingering effects of holiday overeating, there is nothing quite so restorative as a bowl of soup.

Few things are easier to fix than a soup made from vegetables. No long simmering of meaty bones or tough cuts, no complicated stocks.

For meat-eaters, the hardest part of making vegetarian soups is coming up with a combination of ingredients that has enough substance to make you feel like you've eaten. The best solution is beans. Because they're naturally high in protein and have a dense, meaty texture, beans fill in nicely, giving the vegetables the balance they need.

After that, though, vegetable soups are a breeze.

White Bean and Fennel Soup
Olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 fennel bulbs
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound dry Great Northern or cannellini beans
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup white wine
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons best-quality olive oil, divided, for garnish

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Warm 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy soup pot over medium-low heat. Add onion and carrots, and cover and cook until they soften, about 20 minutes.

Trim branches and fronds from both bulbs of fennel; chop at least cup of the fronds, wrap tightly and refrigerate. Quarter 1 bulb lengthwise and cut out the solid core. Dice and add to the soup pot.

Set other bulb aside.

When vegetables in the soup pot are softened and aromatic, stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, 2 or 3 minutes. Add the beans, bay leaf and 8 cups of water. Cover and place in the oven to cook for 1 hour.

After 1 hour, remove the pot from the oven and stir in 11/2teaspoons salt. Return to oven to finish cooking until the beans are tender, another 45 minutes to 1 hour, 15 minutes. Cooking time can vary depending on the condition of the beans, so begin checking after 30 minutes.

When beans are tender, remove pot from oven. If a few beans are slightly chalky, leave the pot covered for a while and they will finish cooking in the reserved heat. If the soup loses too much moisture in the oven, add water as needed to maintain a soup-like consistency.

In a small skillet, heat 1/4cup olive oil over medium heat. Quarter the remaining fennel bulb lengthwise, but do not trim the core, so the fennel bulb will stay together. Fry the bulb until well browned on all three sides, covering tightly in between turns to avoid splattering. Remove the pan from the heat momentarily to carefully add the wine, replace the cover, and cook until the fennel is tender, about 10 minutes.

When the fennel is tender, remove from pan, sprinkle with salt and cut each quarter in half lengthwise. Add to the soup. (The dish can be prepared up to this point a day in advance and refrigerated, tightly covered.)

When ready to serve, warm soup over medium heat in a covered pot. Just before serving, stir in the reserved chopped fennel fronds. Add freshly ground black pepper to taste and more salt, if necessary. Ladle soup into warm, wide soup plates and finish each with a drizzle of the best-quality olive oil. Serve immediately.

Serves 8.

Per serving: 293 Calories; 13 grams Protein; 37 grams Carbohydrates; 12 grams Fiber; 11 grams Fat; 2 grams Saturated Fat; 0 Cholesterol; 481 milligrams Sodium.


  1. YUM. Recipe king, your newest endeavor?

  2. No, not yet, but I definitely have to try it. Just another recipe from my local paper that I thought I'd share.