A few weeks ago I got bronchitis. I don’t get sick often, but sometimes you just pound it too hard and the body craps out.
However, it was not the right time to take off from work, which statement is probably a clear indicator of how crazed about work our American society is (And how I have become). “Yeah, I am on death’s door, but I gotta go to work.” Heavy sigh followed by a hacking, wracking cough. Wipe nose on sleeve. Carry on.
And I was one of at least two in our department who were in the same boat. Ah well. In my next iteration, I will go back to being Mediterranean or Caribbean in my approach. It is much better.
Anyhoo, by the time I stumbled home and crawled up the stairs on one of the worst days, I wasn’t up for much cooking. I was, however, very much in the mood for a comforting, nourishing soup. So was my mom, who was in similar condition downstairs.
That is when knowing your way around a kitchen is a good thing. If you can chop, saute, and add flavorful liquids, in about 25 minutes you can have a soup that may not raise the dead, but will smell good, taste good (if you have any sense of smell or taste left) and make you feel better. If you don’t have any sense of smell or taste, just load on the hot sauce and enjoy a few minutes of steamed and spicy relief.
Feel like you can’t even deal with chopping fresh vegetables? Go ahead, empty out all the useless quarter bags of frozen vegetables buried in the back of the freezer. The tomatoe-y broth and herbs will make it all taste good, even if the texture leaves a bit to be desired.
Easy Vegetable Soup
2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 Cup chopped carrots and celery
2 Cups other mixed vegetables (whatever bits are around the fridge anxious to be used – I used cauliflower, broccoli, summer squash. Potatoes, leeks, spinach would be nice too. You can also use frozen – why not?)
15 oz. can of tomatoes – pureed, chopped, diced, whole, whatever*
1 quart your preferred stock, plus more liquid to cover – can be stock or water*.
15 oz. can of white beans, rinsed and drained
½ Cup of cooked rice or pasta, if you’ve got
½ Cup fresh or frozen chopped spinach, optional
1 Tbs dried herbs (your preferred combination of oregano/thyme/rosemary/parsley/marjoram)
Salt, pepper and hot sauce to taste
In a deep soup pot, heat the oil at medium high until loose and fragrant. Add onions, stir to coat, and lower heat to medium. Add garlic, carrots, and celery, and saute for five minutes, until becoming tender. Add additional vegetables, stir to coat and sauté another three minutes. Add tomatoes and broth, plus enough additional liquid to cover, bring pot to boil, then lower heat and simmer for ten minutes. With about five minutes left in the simmer, add beans, and optional pasta and spinach, and seasoning. Serve with saltines or crusty bread.
*(Note: You can substitute some or all the stock, or the can of tomatoes with vegetable juice such as V-8 – low-sodium preferred)