Soups make best of winter, shortage of fresh ingredients

Wednesday, February 13, 2002

CONCORD, N.H. -- It's easy to be a vegetarian in summer, when markets overflow with fresh produce begging to be grilled or tossed in salads. Autumn is no effort, either, with savory squash and sweet apples.

But then comes winter, with those long months after the holidays when grocers' shelves are barren save for plastic-tasting produce.

So what's a vegetarian to do? Try soups and stews!

There's an easy formula for turning out fantastic stews: Fill a stockpot with whatever produce is available, and don't be afraid to use frozen or canned.

Some of the best suggestions this time of year include potatoes, carrots, winter squash, onions, frozen corn and peas, cauliflower, broccoli and leeks. If the stew is to be served as a main dish, add a can of chickpeas or kidney beans for protein.

For a thick stew, add broth or stock until the vegetables are just covered. Add more for a thinner soup. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer until the vegetables are tender.

To thicken these recipes into heartier stews, reduce the liquid to 6 cups.

Russian Vegetable Borscht

(Preparation 1 hour)

2 teaspoons vegetable oil (try olive oil)

1 cup onion, chopped

1 cup green bell pepper, chopped

3 cloves garlic, crushed

4 cups cabbage, thinly shredded

1/2 cup carrots, coarsely shredded

2 medium potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1 large beet, peeled and coarsely shredded

8 cups water or vegetable broth

6-ounce can tomato paste

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon dill

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Heat oil in a large stock pot over a medium flame. Add the onion, bell pepper and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients except vinegar.

Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer 30 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Add vinegar. Before serving, remove and discard bay leaves.

For best flavor, chill and reheat before serving.

Makes eight 1 1/2-cup servings.

Mushroom Pasta Soup

(Preparation 1 hour)

2 teaspoons vegetable oil (try olive oil)

2 cups sliced mushrooms (white button or a variety)

1 onion, chopped

1 large leek, white part only, chopped

1 cup carrot, finely chopped

8 cups water or vegetable broth, plus 8 teaspoons

1 large potato cut into 1/4-inch pieces

2 teaspoons dill

1 teaspoon paprika

1/8 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

2 cups small pasta, uncooked (try shells or spirals)

1/4 cup ketchup

Salt, to taste

Heat oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add mushrooms, onion, leek and carrots. Cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Add broth, potato, dill, paprika and pepper.

Bring soup to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook for 40 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Add pasta and cook another 10 minutes. Stir in ketchup and salt.

Makes eight 1 1/4-cup servings.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: