I’m going to let you in on an embarrassing secret. I will sometimes count vegetables in a meal and if there is a high enough number, I feel like I won a prize. Am I 10? Am I lame? Please, don’t answer! :)
For instance, that spaghetti with roasted vegetables, there were five different veggies. Not bad, I guess, but nothing special.
If you really want to win the lots-o’veg award, soup is a really good way to go.
Take this vegetable soup. I think there were 10 different vegetables – all different types and colors – with enough vitamins and minerals to counteract any chocolate cake that could follow. Serve it with a glass of red wine and a garlicky tapenade (+2 for the antioxidant list) to keep the meal from feeling too ‘diety’ and leaving you unsatisfied.
This counting trick also works particularly well when say adding something (or things) green to macaroni and cheese or pizza. Almost makes ’em health food, right?
This soup I guess is minestrone-like, except without the pasta (because I abhor pasta in soup), and because I can make no claims to authentic Italian, I feel silly calling my vegetable soup by a real name.
Again, like many things I cook – there is no real recipe, particularly as the time changes based on the ingredients you have. I always start with the basics – onion, carrot and celery in olive oil – and from there is really depends. If I have fennel or leeks, I will add them a bit after the mirepoix, but before other veg. Things like potatoes and cauliflower take longer than zucchini, so they go in next. I like to add them with the aromatics before any liquids to caramelize a bit and develop more flavor. Then maybe a big can of whole tomatoes, smushed up a bit and a can or two of water, depending on how much I want to make. After that, any other veg that take more than a minute or two – I hold the leafy greens until the end so they stay more vibrant. Don’t forget, salt and pepper at each stage – seasoning throughout is important!
My favorite little trick for a soup like this is to add beans for protein, but using a food processor or even a few forks, mush about half of the beans to add some thickness to the soup. Here I use canned white beans, but things are always better if you have the time to make your own. Cranberry beans would be super great here too.
Then, just let it all simmer for 15 minutes to develop the flavors – but not too long as you want all the vegetables to hold up.
Finally serve it with crusty bread, with maybe a quick tapenade or a pesto, a drizzle of olive oil and a few shavings of pecorino.
And of course, give yourself a quick pat on the back for having 1,000 vegetables for dinner!!