Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Vegetable Soup

Do you have vegetables slowly wilting in your refrigerator?  Don't know what to do with those chicken bones left over from your Friday night dinner extravaganza?  Well, it's time to make some delicious Vegetable Soup!

We had friends over Friday night last week, and it being the first time we'd seen them since the beginning of summer, I decided to roast a chicken.  I thought about killing a fatted calf, but I didn't happen to have one on hand.

The roasted chicken (with sliced vegetables) was a little on the bland side, but once we had finished picking the meat off the bones, I through all the rest of it (bones, skin, and all) into a pot and covered them with water and added some "Poultry Seasoning" from my spice rack.  After simmering for most of a day , I decided that it was done, and strained the broth.  It sat in the fridge for 2 days.  I skimmed off the fat that solidified on the surface.  I left some smaller pieces because we all know that's where the flavor comes from.

Thus I had created: Chicken Stock. 

Now you may be wondering (like I was just a moment ago): What is the difference between Chicken Stock and Chicken Broth?  Aren't they the same thing?

The answer is no.  Chicken Stock is made from the bones and stuff you wouldn't normally eat on the chicken.  Chicken Broth is usually made from the meat.  Stock tends to have a richer flavor because some of the gelatin is released by cooking the bones.  (Thanks, Food Network). For more go here: Wikipedia.

But enough about chicken.  We're making Vegetable soup today!

***

Vegetable Soup
Recipe by The Lazy Wife

1/2 Onion, chopped - I used red, but you could use any kind
1 TBsp Olive oil
4-5 Cloves Garlic, minced
2 medium Potatoes, small cubes - I left the skin on and made the cubes small, potato skin is good for you!
2 stalks Celery, chopped
4 cups Chicken Stock - Chicken broth should work, or make it vegan/vegetarian friendly and use vegetable broth
1/4 cup Sherry
1 large Leek, cut lengthwise and then in strips
2 Mushrooms, diced
10 baby carrots, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup frozen corn
1/2 cup frozen peas
1-2 cups water
1 Bay Leaf
Salt and Pepper to taste
You know you love the pretty colors!

Wash and cut up your vegetables.  Saut√© the onions in a pot with the olive oil and some salt and pepper, add the garlic after the onion is soft.  Then toss in the potatoes, celery, chicken stock and sherry (you could leave this out, but I like the flavor it gives) add water at any point if the broth does not cover the vegetables enough.  After the potatoes are soft (about 15min) use a potato masher to break the potatoes into smaller pieces and give the broth more texture.

Then add the bay leaf, leek, mushrooms, carrots, bell pepper, peas and corn (as I said, empty your refrigerator... you could use whatever vegetables you want in this).

Simmer until the vegetables are soft and serve with some toast or croutons.  You could even put a little bacon on top, or add ham, chicken, rice or barley to it.  It would be very delicious with barley.

***

 Now let's talk about the potato.  Not only is it fun to say... but it's a very nutritious tuber.

Potatoes are in the same plant family as deadly nightshade (belladonna).  But don't worry too much, because so are Tomatoes and Eggplants.  This family also includes Mandrake, Paprika, Chili peppers, Tobacco and Petunias.

this image is in the public domain
Potatoes have vitamin C, Potassium, vitamin B6, as well as a good amount of fiber.  With it's skin on a potato has about the same amount of fiber as whole grain bread, cereal or pasta.

Most people worry about the starch/carbohydrate content of potatoes.  But some of the starch in potatoes is actually resistant to digestion in the stomach, and has similar beneficial effects to fiber.  The amount of this resistant starch is related to how the potato is prepared.  Potatoes that are cooked and then cooled (such as in potato salad) have more insoluble starch than hot potatoes (by nearly double).  Maybe next time we'll be making Potato Salad.

(citations: Food Network, Wikipedia, potato image, Recipe inspired by Suzanne Welsh)

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