Being a "recipe cook" myself, I have long admired people who can simply look in the cupboard, check what's in their fridge, and whip together a scrumptious meal. No cookbook, no directions, no guidance needed save what they already possess, whether from instinct, practice, or lessons absorbed from a mentor or two along the way.
I am thrilled to have discovered just such a mentor, though she's one I've never met except through her book.
The teacher is Ellen Ecker Ogden, the book is From The Cook's Garden
, and today's lesson is all about vegetable soup.
Did you know you can pretty reliably combine vegetables that grow in the same season and come up with taste combinations that just work? (Tomatoes and eggplant and basil in the summer, for example; or potatoes and leeks in cooler weather.)
I learned that from Ellen Ecker Ogden. I also learned that she starts most of her cooking from the garden simply by heating up a little olive oil, adding chopped onion and garlic, then running outside to see what's ripe.
Sounds like a successful recipe to me.
In that spirit, I recently tried her pureed vegetable soup. The olive oil, onions, and garlic were already on my shelves. From the freezer, I plucked a zippered baggie of 1 1/2 c. pumpkin puree I had made back in the fall (for instructions, see this post
from Kevin's Closet Cooking blog). From my fridge came a couple of carrots. And from my kitchen window ledge came some home-grown, dried rosemary.
Have a little rosemary, won't you? Please. I insist.
The result? The best soup I have ever made. Absolutely delicious. Here are the instructions, in case you want to try it yourself.
PUREED VEGETABLE SOUP
2 T. olive oil
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 t. finely chopped fresh herbs or 1/2 t. dried herbs (I used rosemary)
3 c. chopped mixed vegetables (I used pumpkin puree and a couple carrots)
1 medium potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
4 c. vegetable broth (I used 4 c. water plus 4 vegetable bouillon cubes)
salt and pepper to taste
In large stockpot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook until soft, stirring, about 5 minutes. Add the herbs, vegetables, and potato, and cook about 5 more minutes, stirring often. Add the broth and let simmer over medium heat, with the pot partially covered, for about 30 more minutes. Vegetables should be tender. Process in blender in small batches until it's all pureed. Season with salt and pepper. Serve hot or cold.
A couple more hints from this book: You can add cream to this soup, or sherry, or fresh leafy greens before blending. You can also top with a dollop of sour cream or, my choice, plain yogurt.
So how about you: Are you a recipe cook? Or are you blessed with that instinct that lets you create away in the kitchen without written instructions?
NOTE: This post is linked to Works-for-me-Wednesday
at the We Are That Family blog. Check it out for zillions of great ideas.
NOTE #2: Check out the "grow your own" roundup
, for a collection of recipes that contain home-grown ingredients. Roundup hosted by Nate @ House of Annie blog.
Labels: main dishes, vegetables