Leftover Inspiration

The vegetable bin in my refrigerator is full – leftovers from cooking earlier this week.  Zucchini, cabbage, carrot, peppers…. What else is in there? Let’s see, some mushrooms, a leek, some fennel, a cup of canned diced tomatoes, some kidney beans and garbanzos… Great ingredients for soup!  And with the temperatures outside below zero, it’s the perfect day for it, too.  I put all of these treasures on the counter, pull out my cutting board and chef’s knife and get to work.  A partial container of vegetable stock is in the refrigerator, too.  I’ll use that as my base.

I heat the soup pot on the stove, give it a quick spray with some cooking spray, and toss in the sliced leeks and chopped mushrooms.  Lots of sizzle as they tumble into the pot – that’s good.  Quickly the aroma of the mushroom/leek sauté fills the room and I’m in heaven.  When they are a rich, brown color I add minced garlic and sauté a few minutes more.  The fennel, carrots, green and red bell peppers and the tomatoes go in next.  I let the mixture boil for a few minutes while I search my pantry for the perfect seasoning.  Homestead Seasoning, a blend from the Savory Spice Shop, looks good.  Not exactly what I was thinking of, but it will work.  The liquid from the tomatoes is almost all evaporated, so I stir in the seasoning.  Did I put in enough?  Or was it too much? Won’t know until it’s done…  I add the cabbage and zucchini, give another quick stir and add the vegetable stock.  Not quite enough liquid, so I add some water.  I can always stir in some bouillon or some more seasoning at the end if I need to.  I bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer – it’s looking good… Before the zucchini and cabbage go all mushy, I remove the pan from heat and add the kidney beans and garbanzos.  A taste… hmmm, good, but it needs… yes! a splash of sherry vinegar!  Another taste… I have to admit – that’s pretty darn good soup!

A Gift of Thyme’s Pretty Darn Good Soup

3 cups chopped mushrooms

1 1/3 cups leeks, white part only, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, minced

3/4 cup fennel, thinly sliced

1 cup finely chopped green and red bell peppers

1/3 cup chopped carrots

1 teaspon seasoning blend (Homestead Seasoning recommended)

1 cup each diced tomatoes (canned), diced zucchini, sliced cabbage

3/4 cup vegetable stock plus 1 cup water

1/2 cup garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained

2/3 cup red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

2 tablespoons toasted pumpkin seeds

Heat soup pot over medium-high heat.  Spray with cooking spray.  Add mushrooms and leeks to pan; saute for 5 minutes or til lightly browned, stirring frequently.  Add garlic, fennel and carrots; saute another 3 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add diced tomato with juices; allow to boil until most of the liquid is evaporated.  Stir in cabbage and zucchini, vegetable stock and water; return to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer til vegetables are crisp-tender.  Add garbanzo and kidney beans and remove from heat.  Stir in vinegar.  Taste to adjust seasonings as needed and serve garnished with toasted pumpkin seeds.  Enjoy!

Makes 8 cups of soup – 6 servings (1 1/3 cups each)

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