Saturday, September 27, 2008

Eat Your Soup!

Coming from a rather low-income family who survived World War II, my mother was raised to watch her pennies and therefore cook on a budget. So it's not surprising that she has kept the habit of making vegetable soup during cold months -a peasant's meal back then. It's inexpensive, filling and very satisfying.

Even though my parents are living more comfortably than my grandparents, most of their dinners still start with a soup during the cold seasons. And that's how I grew up too. A simple dinner would be a bowl of soup, a boiled egg with "mouillettes" (thin and narrow pieces of buttered bread used to dip in the egg -"mouiller"/to wet), cheese and fruit.

Even though Juan has tried my Mom's soup many times while back home in France, from the seven years we have known each other, I have never prepared it for him. And that's pretty incredible, considering how much I cook. Go figure.

Poor Juan caught a cold last week, so I thought it was a great time to make him a comforting bowl of soup. I chose whatever looked good to me at the market, but the sky really is the limit! I do not get tired of eating it -and neither does Juan-. It's comforting, and undeniably good for you. It feels like a warm hug from the inside.

My mother's soup is a medley of vegetables from our garden. She always uses leeks, carrots and at least one potato but the rest is really depending on her moods. She always cooks her vegetables in her pressure cooker, then blends it.

One tip I can give to you for making this soup is to really check its consistency. I personally do not like my soup to be very thick -I don't find it very pleasant on my tongue-, so I make sure to blend the vegetables with very little liquid. That way, I can adjust the thickness by slowly adding ladles of the cooking liquid.

And here's how I eat it: with a very small piece of butter that I put directly in my bowl and a splash of milk (and I always check the seasoning). Try it, I can already hear you say: "hmmmm".

Vegetable Soup

(serves 6 to 8, or makes one big batch for 2 and serves over three meals).

1/2 green cabbage, sliced roughly.

2 medium carrots, peeled cut into 4 chunks.

1 big zucchini, cut into big chunks

1 medium white onion, peeled and cut into big chunks

1 big white potato, peeled and quartered.

Boil a big pot of water with some salt. Meanwhile cut all the vegetables.

When the water is boiling, immerse all the vegetables and cook for 40 minutes.

With a skimmer spoon or a ladle, scoop out the vegetables and put in the blender. Try not to put too much water to be able to adjust the thickness afterwards. Work in batches and be careful to not overfill your blender (only fill it half full). You are working with hot liquid (I hold the top of the blender with a towel in order to not burn myself)!

Pour each blended batch in a big saucepan. Stir the soup and add more cooking liquid if your soup looks too thick. Again, I personally do not like when it is too thick so I usually add about 3 ladles of liquid. Add slowly.

Add 1 tsp 1/2 of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper, stir and serve hot!

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