Saturday, September 8, 2012

CI veggie soup

The cool breeze in the air (it was in the 40s when we got up this morning!) makes me anxious for fall baking, and we started today with these pumpkin donuts from KAF.

But it's not fall yet, and we still have a fridge full of CSA veggies to use up. We are nearing the end of our CSA summer, and I'm breathing a little sigh of relief that the pressure to use all of these veggies will soon be gone. At the same time, I'm sad to say goodbye to the abundance of summertime produce...not to mention summertime weather. :-)

With school back in session, my free time to browse magazines and websites for veggie recipes is just about zero, so I was beyond excited to see a recipe in my newest issue of Cook's Illustrated (the iPad version, which I just love!) that used up almost every single vegetable from this week's box: eggplant, summer squash, tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, basil.

I was a little skeptical because the recipe didn't call for any typical soup filler: no meat, no beans, no pasta. Still, I wasn't going to pass up a perfect opportunity to use up my veggies. I made the soup this morning; as long as it called for a 20 minute rest to "let the flavors meld," I figured it wouldn't hurt to let it rest all day. Besides, soups are usually better when they're reheated.

The flavors in this soup were just amazing, so complex and interesting; it has to be one of my favorites ever. I served it with cheese, fruit, and ciabatta from ABED. A perfect summer-turning-to-fall dinner.

I adjusted quite a few of the ingredient amounts because I just used what I had in the fridge. I get the feeling that this is quite a flexible recipe, and I would happily make it again with whatever amounts of the veggies I receive next week.

Italian vegetable soup
adapted from Cook's Illustrated
makes 6 servings

1/3 cup fresh basil
2 T dried oregano
2 tsp minced garlic
2 T evoo
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

1 eggplant (mine was 7.5 oz), peeled and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
1 large onion, chopped
1 1/4 lb potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
2 T tomato paste
2 c water
28 oz fresh tomatoes, peeled and diced (or 28 oz can), save juices
1 - 2 summer squash (mine was 12 oz), cut into 1/2 inch chunks
2 bell peppers (mine were orange), seeded and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
1 1/2 tsp salt
4 T olive oil

1. Process the first five ingredients (basil through red pepper) in the food processor to make a paste.
2. Toss the eggplant with 1tsp salt and lay on a plate covered in coffee filters. Microwave on high until shriveled, about 8 minutes, tossing half way through.
3. Heat 1 T oil in a large dutch oven over high heat. Cook eggplant, potatoes,and onion for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Push veggies aside and add 1 T and the tomato paste, cooking until the tomato sauce starts to brown, 1 or 2 minutes. Stir the sauce in with the veggies.
4. Add the tomatoes, tomato juices, and water to the pot, and bring to a boil. Turn down to medium, cover, and cook for 20 minutes.
5. In a large skillet, heat 1 T of oil over medium-high. Add the peppers, squash, and 1/2 tsp salt. Cook for 10 minutes, until veggies are browned and softened. Push them aside and add the paste from step 1. Cook for a minute until fragrant, and then stir it in with the veggies.
6. Turn off the heat on the soup and then add the squash/pepper mixture. Pour a little liquid from the soup into the skillet and use it to scrape up any browned bits; stir those in to the soup, too.
7. Cover and let the soup rest for 20 minutes, or refrigerate until later in the day. Add fresh basil before serving.


  1. I haven't tried this soup, but I really enjoy the CI minestrone recipe from several years ago. All veggies, but with a piece of parmesan rind to add flavor. Well, and it does have beans, but definitely a good way to get lots of vegetables in. =)

    I'll have to give the doughnuts a try at some point, too.

  2. I have all this on hand, including the herbs, so will give this a go this week. I need some things to send up to Elwood for Mark's parents and I am thinking this would be excellent, nice and healthy, easy to eat, and they love soup...a great thing for them. Thanks!

    Loved the doughnuts...thanks for turning us all onto started Doughnut Saturdays...and it is such fun to have a new pan to use! I'm all about the toys.