Friday, October 2, 2009

Veggie Soup

My sneaky plan to get my family to eat healthier culminated tonight in a vegetable soup. I've never tried making soup before, but my cooking skills have been getting better. I stumbled on this recipe at - for Italian Bean & Grain soup. Shopping in Mauritius can be tough - there's really not that much variety in the shops, and I thought I'd be able to find everything in the recipe, so tonight I gave it a try.

  • Olive oil for frying
  • Some carrots - finely chopped
  • Some onions - finely chopped
  • Some celery - finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • a handful of fresh basil - finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic - minced.
  • 1 can of tomatoes (undrained)
  • 4 cups of chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup of Farro or pearl barley
  • 1 can of cannellini beans, rinsed
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Some grated Parmesan
  • Heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onions, celery, carrots, garlic, herbs. Cook for a little bit (3 - 4 minutes) until things start to soften.
  • Add tomatoes and stock.
  • Increase heat and bring to a boil.
  • Add barley and beans, and season with pepper.
  • Once it returns to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 40 minutes - until the barley is soft.
  • Sprinkle each serving with cheese and serve with a bread roll.

I'm impressed. My mother used to make veggie soup when I was a kid, and this tasted exactly like that. Of course, I am a very amateur chef, and so I forgot to put the garlic in until I added the beans. Also I couldn't find pearl barley - so I tried it with durum wheat (which I've also never eaten) - but that turned out to work perfectly. I think durum wheat (or perhaps pearl barley) is the secret ingredient to make vegetable soup taste like its supposed to. It also helps bulk up the meal enough that one helping of soup and I was done. Oh, and I don't know what Cannellini beans are - so I bought a tin that said "Haricots Blanc" (white beans).

The plan is to get us to eat vegetable full vegetarian meal about once a week. I say vegetable full, because mac'n'cheese hardly counts towards boosting our nutrition. The problem is the perception that vegetarian food isn't going to fill the tummy, or taste good. I proved both counts wrong last week with a potato and chickpea curry, and tonight with this veggie soup.


And I wrote my first blog post - 2 gold stars for KingMuzza. Now, on to the weekend...

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