As the days grow shorter and the nights cooler, our thoughts here at Hot Eddie’s turn to soup. All kinds of soup. Minestrone, pea soup, chicken soup, lentil soup, fish soup. Some of them take a fair amount of preparation and time. A real French Onion Soup, for example, takes hours of browning and simmering to produce a perfect brew. Others far less. Vegetable soup, for one, is very easy to make and to me, it is a happy miracle of nature that you can put chopped vegetables into a pot with some water and 20 minutes of simmering later you have a magically delicious elixir. A good vegetable soup has a variety of veggies which creates a complex, layered flavor. Staples include the root vegetables: carrots, celery, onions, potatoes, leeks, turnips, parsnips and so on. Add some fresh green beans, peas, cabbage, cauliflower, peppers, tomatoes, the possibilities are limited only by your imagination and the contents of your refrigerator. There is an infinite variety of ways to season these stalwart soldiers of soupdom. Simply with salt and pepper, or you can go crazy with the entire population of the herb and spice world. It just depends on what you like.
Today we are offering a recipe for a ridiculously easy to prepare, amazingly delicious Spicy Vegetable Soup. It is a very straightforward undertaking, basic vegetable soup “plus”. The “Plus”, Jalepeño and ginger, gives it a nice little kick that helps the warming factor, and the turmeric adds a lovely amber color. Of course you can vary the ingredients as you wish, but I suggest you try the basic version before you wander off into overgrown paths of variation.
If you can’t find fresh shitake mushrooms you can substitute dried, (soak them in warm water for 20 minutes to reconstitute them), use regular white or brown mushrooms, or if you don’t particularly like mushrooms, just omit them. On a side note, mushrooms are high in glutamic acid, a natural version of the flavor enhancer monosodium glutamate (MSG). Unlike MSG, the natural occurring glutamic acid does not have a high sodium content, but does enhance the flavor of whatever you add them to. Nice, eh?
Of course it is also naturally vegan, gluten free, low fat, low carb, low glycemic index, and low salt. However by no means is this low flavor. The vegetables are rich in minerals and vitamins, all of which makes this soup good and good for you. Add a few edamame soy beans and you could probably live on this soup forever. Simmer up a pot to have on hand for those cool fall evenings ahead. While I like it fresh out of the pot, it keeps perfectly in the fridge for a few days and freezes pretty well.
Spicy Fresh Vegetable Soup- Prep time about 35 minutes including all the scrubbing and cutting. Makes about 3 quarts of soup
3 carrots thickly sliced
3 stalks celery thickly sliced
1 leek thinly sliced
½ medium yellow onion, diced
1 cup green beans cut into 2 inch lengths
1 cup ripe tomatoes roughly chopped
1 cup cauliflower florets
1 cup fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced
1 jalepeño or serrano pepper, seeded and minced
6 cloves garlic sliced
1 Tablespoon fresh ginger cut into thin sticks
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon salt (or to taste)
½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
1 Tablespoon minced Italian flat-leaved parsley or cilantro for garnish
Put all ingredients in a 4 quart pot. Cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer gently for 20 minutes. Correct seasoning. Serve hot with a sprinkling of chopped herbs for a garnish.