I haven’t planted a seed yet this spring, but my gardening already has started, and with it, the first pot of soup with fresh vegetables.
How’s that, you say?
Well, for the third straight year, I left a row of parsnips in my garden over the winter. And just like the first two crops, this spring’s bounty was nothing short of spectacular.
I harvested enough parsnips for a couple of meals (they’re great sliced and fried in a little butter, seasoned with salt and pepper) and about a half-dozen bags (vacuumed sealed) that wento into the freezer.
And then, there’s the soup. Along with the fresh parsnips, I added some carrots, an onion, a couple of stalks of celery, a handful of pearled barley, a bag of frozen green beans, about 8 to 10 cups of broth, a pint of homemade tomato juice and a few tablespoons of tomato paste.
The result was really delicious, and it proves the point that you don’t need meat to make a good soup.
As many of my friends and readers know, I’m kind of a soup nut. I usually make a pot at least once a week, even when the weather turns warmer. I’m lucky to be able to go home for lunch, and having a bowl of soup is a great way to stay on the straight and narrow if you’re trying to maintain your weight.
I’ve recently come across a couple of other soup recipes that look pretty tasty. One — Italian Harvest Vegetable Soup — is from a publication called Delicious Living, which is available at must Hugo’s supermarkets. The other — Spicy Sweet Potato and Black Bean Soup — was on one of our wire service’s Web site.
Both are loaded with colorful vegetables, which means they’re also loaded with vitamins and minerals.
Italian Harvest Vegetable Soup
2 cups chopped celery (4 to 5 stalks)
2 larges carrots, peeled
1 large sweet onion, such as Vidalia or Walla Walla
2 tablespoons organic canola or safflower oil
4 medium cloves garlic, minced
½ red bell pepper, sliced into ½-inch strips
½ green or yellow bell pepper, sliced into ½-inch strips
6 cups water
1 28-ounce can diced San Marzano or fire-roasted tomatoes, undrained
1 cup fresh or frozen and thawed corn kernels
1 cup chopped fresh fennel bulb (1 small bulb) or 1 teaspoon whole fennel seed
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon dried rosemary
4 to 5 ounces fresh baby spinach leaves, roughly chopped
1 small zucchini, sliced into ½-inch pieces
Chop celery, carrots and onion into ½-inch dice
Heat oil on medium-high in a large, heavy-bottom pot. Add carrots, celery and onion. Saute until edges are golden brown, about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and add garlic and bell peppers. Stir frequently for 1 to 2 minutes, then add water, tomatoes, corn, fennel, oregano, thyme and rosemary. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 30 to 40 minutes. Add spinach and zucchini, simmer another 5 minutes, salt and pepper to tasted and serve.
Yield: Serves 8.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 101 calories, 33 percent of calories from fat, 4 grams fat (no saturated), no cholesterol, 3 grams protein, 15 grams carbohydrates, 273 milligrams sodium.
Spicy Sweet Potato and Black Bean Soup
1 teaspoon canola oil
1 sweet yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 red pepper, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and chopped
1 cup frozen corn
1 14½-ounce can no-salt-added whole tomatoes
1 14½-ounce can fat-free, reduced sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
½ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne
1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, red pepper and carrot and cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are tender. Stir in sweet potato and corn.
Drain tomatoes, reserving juice. Chop tomatoes. Add tomatoes and reserved juice to soup.
Stir in broth, water, pepper, salt and cayenne. Heat to a boil, reduce heat and simmer about 20 minutes or until sweet potatoes are tender. Stir in beans and cook 5 minutes.
Yield: Serves 6.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 160 calories, 10 percent of calories from fat, 2 grams fat (trace saturated), no cholesterol, 28 grams carbohydrates, 9 grams protein, 334 milligrams sodium, 7 grams dietary fiber.