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The Cookbook Project – Vegetable Soup

As I was running out the door this morning (at 5:55 AM in case you were wondering) I was thinking about the Cookbook Project. I grabbed one of my favorite cookbooks, hoping I could find a good recipe to make tonight. One of my favorite cookbooks is Jacques Pépin’s Fast Food My Way. If you don’t have it – check it out, you might love it as much as I do!

During lunch I looked through the book to find a good recipe to make for tonight. I had originally thought Supreme of chicken with balsamic vinegar and shallot sauce… But for most of the day it was a bone chilling 48 degrees. (Yes, seriously. I was wearing my Patagonia vest all day in the office and at home. The second I got home the first thing I did was change into my fleece pants. FLEECE PANTS on June 2!!)

Because of the wintery weather, I opted to go for Jacques’s Instant Vegetable Soup. I just love this soup. I always change up the vegetables, but today I stuck with the recipe.

I used zucchini, carrots, mushrooms, onion, baby kale, and scallions in the soup today. I shredded the first four ingredients and roughly chopped the kale, and cut the scallions into thin pieces. I used five cups of water and one cup of chicken broth. As I was preparing the vegetables, I heated up the liquid on the stove. Soon enough everything was coming together. I added a little less than a teaspoon of salt, and a good amount of freshly ground pepper. I also grated up one clove of garlic and added it to the soup.

I added the onion and carrot to the broth first, since these vegetables can always cook a little longer. Next I added the kale (kale is a hearty vegetable that can stand up well to the heat). Then the mushrooms and finally the zucchini and scallions.

I tasted the soup as things were cooking along. I was immediately a little nervous. there didn’t seem to be much flavor developing. I was a little confused – and I was definitely hoping that this soup was not going to turn into a complete disaster.

On another burner I was boiling water so that I could cook a small pasta to add to the soup. In the soup pot I stirred in two tablespoons of instant grits. (I could have used three like the recipe called for – but I figured since I was adding pasta, I could do with a little less.)

I am not quite sure what happened to the soup. But somehow – it all came together and when I put the finishing touches on it, I could not get enough!! I went back for another small helping of the soup. Is it the Gruyere cheese that pulls everything together? Is it just that the flavors needed to come together for a few more minutes?! Whatever it was – it certainly worked.

I was so thrilled to be eating this soup on such a cold night. It really hit the spot.

There are many things I love about this recipe. You can make it with many different types of vegetables – basically you can use anything that you have on hand. The preparation of the vegetables is so easy and quick – who doesn’t love getting their grater out after a long day!? I had fun grating the vegetables – and even rough chopping my kale. I did all of these steps while I was waiting for the stock to come to a boil. Another wonderful thing about this recipe is that it comes together so quickly once you have everything on the stove. It is also such a cost effective recipe. The most expensive thing I bought for the recipe was the Gruyere cheese which was $7.50 – the rest of the ingredients came to maybe 6 dollars. Not bad for such a delicious meal – and I will be able to use a lot of the left over ingredients in other meals this week. One note – if you garnish this soup with parsley, it brings it to a whole other level. I highly recommend it! I served this soup with a glass of red wine and a chunk of hearty sour dough bread. A perfect meal, if you ask me.

That wraps up the second official installment of The Cookbook Project. Happy cooking, everyone!

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