The Healthy Librarian's Riff on Alton Brown's Best Winter Vegetable Soup
Just Saying.... If you aren't already a regular visitor to my Facebook Page--please do check it out. You're missing a lot of helpful information. Several times a day (usually early in the morning or after work) I post summaries to news about medical & wellness research, links to plant-strong recipes, photos of recipes I've made, summaries of articles that make me think, inspire me, make me laugh, enrich my life, and so much more.
You don't even have to have a Facebook account to pay regular visits. Find my page by clicking on the link/icon in the upper right-hand corner of this blog post, or here, or by googling "Happy Healthy Long Life - Healthy Librarian Facebook".
If you don't have a FB account, no worries. Once you've landed on my page, just keep hitting the escape button when you're asked to log in or to sign up for FB--and then close that annoying "log in" message, when you can. You should be able to read the entire page.
And Now for the Recipe
On Saturday morning an anonymous (really) HHLL reader sent me this email:
Saw this on tv this morning, figured I'd share..it's mostly plant strong!"
Later, that day I checked out the recipe & it looked outstanding. It was on an Alton Brown show called: "Best Dish I Ever Made: One Dish Wonders"
A winter vegetable soup that Alton Brown says is one of his best dishes?
A winter vegetable soup that can be made Plant Strong? No-oil?
I was on it in a flash! I watched the video, copied down the recipe. Silly me--if I had searched for 30 seconds, I would have found the recipe already printed out. Aargh!
I cut out the oil, increased the amounts of some of the vegetables, substituted vegetable broth instead of water---& bingo! I had a recipe.
On Monday morning as I left the house for work, the Lab Rat asked, "How about a hearty soup for dinner tonight? Any ideas?"
"Oh, yeah! I have just the right recipe. And here it is."
Full Disclosure: Alton adds a definitely "no-no" plant-strong ingredient to this recipe. Some of you may be shocked that I even included it in my soup. I made the executive decision that it was just a "flavorizer"---and I wanted to find out how much flavor it was really going to add to the soup.
Honestly, both the Lab Rat & I noticed the delicious "robusto punch" it added. When the soup was finished cooking--we discarded it. Just like a bouquet garni. Right into the garbage. I think it would add to the depth of flavor in my Italian Wedding Soup Rapido, too.
What's the "no-no" ingredient?
A 2" X 2" skinny slivery square of parmesan rind. My nephew Josh, an accomplished professional chef, would totally approve!
You can easily leave it out--but, I thought it added a mellow richness--without adding any cheese. There was nothing to really melt. It's just a thin 2-inch square sliver of parmesan rind. It stayed pretty much intact & was easy to discard after cooking. Obviously, this is a deal-breaker for 100% vegans. Easy to leave out.
The Healthy Librarian's "Enlightened & Enriched" Riff on Alton Brown's Best Winter Vegetable Soup
Cooking time: about 2+ hours
Makes 6 1/2+ quarts of soup
This recipe is an "enlightened & enriched" riff off of Alton Brown's soup.
For the recipe on one page, click here
- 8 ounces of cremini mushrooms, sliced
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 large carrots, chopped
- 2 celery ribs, chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 1 teaspoon of fresh rosemary, chopped
- 2 teaspoons of fresh sage, chopped
- 28 ounces of crushed fire-roasted tomatoes
- 2 ½ quarts of low-sodium vegetable broth (TIP: Imagine's No-Chicken Broth provides the RICHEST taste)
- 3 tablespoons of low-sodium soy sauce (Alton says the soy adds Umami)
- 2” X 2” skinny square of parmesan rind (TOTALLY OPTIONAL!!) It stayed intact & we discarded it after cooking.
- 1 pound, 2 ounces of pre-cut butternut squash cubes (the size of TJ's pre-packaged cut-up squash) TIP: You can roast the cubes & add near the end of the "soup-cooking" time, for an even richer taste.
- 10 ounces of chopped curly kale, stems removed
- 2 cans (15 ounce ea.) no-salt Great Northern beans---DO NOT DRAIN!
- 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar. (Alton says the vinegar cuts the acidity of the tomatoes)
OPTION: You can roast the butternut squash chunks in a 425 degree oven & add them near the end of the "soup-cooking" time, when you add the mushrooms back into the soup--for an even richer taste.
1. Use a large 8 quart soup pot. Heat on high & sear & brown the mushrooms, until tender. Only add a little water or broth if they start to stick. Remove them from the pot, to add back in later.
2. Lower heat & sweat onions, carrots, & celery over low heat for 30 minutes, at least. I like to cover the pot, and stir occasionally, checking to see if they are getting too dry, & need a little water to deglaze the pan. They’ll be very soft.
3. Add in garlic, rosemary, & sage
4. Add the tomatoes in their juice, & mix with a wooden spoon to break up the tomatoes. Cook for about 5 minutes, to blend everything together. (Note: next time I'm using chopped tomatoes)
5. Increase the heat, & add the vegetable broth to the pot. Mix in soy sauce & drop in the parmesan rind heat just until boiling.
6. Lower heat to a simmer & add the squash & kale. Cover & simmer for at least 30 minutes.
7. Now, add the mushrooms back in, & the 2 undrained cans of Great Northern beans to help thicken the soup with the starch. Mix well. Then add the 2 TBS of red wine vinegar to cut the acidity from the tomatoes.
8. Heat through.
9. Alton says this is the best soup he has ever made.
Options: Consider adding some orzo or other whole grain small pasta into the soup.
Serve with a salad & crusty grainy bread.
Based on a 2 1/4 cup serving