This Wonderful Wife Tip is inspired by Jacques Pepin, my personal cooking hero, and although he calls it a Peasant Soup it is a rich, satisfying meal.
If you have vegetable or chicken broth in your pantry you can pull this soup together very quickly–like maybe 30 min. from start to finish. Water works perfectly fine if you don’t have broth on hand, but you’ll want to let it simmer longer so the total cooking time might be closer to an hour. It’s a great way to use up any veggies you have on hand and it’s a great way to use up wilted salad greens (add during the last 5 minutes or so). You finish off this dish with freshly grated cheese and croutons so the soup is very forgiving!
Chop as many of the following as you have on hand (smaller pieces will cook more quickly):
1 small-medium onion
1 stalk of celery
1-2 cloves of garlic
A handful or two of salad greens (or any greens, really!)
Personal note: I’ve made dinner with as little as 1 onion, 2 stalks of celery, some mesclun greens, 1 box of chicken broth, grated cheese and 2 slices of stale bread thanks to this soup so don’t hesitate to do it “bare bones” if you’re looking for a quick homemade meal. You could even get away with serving just chicken or veggie broth with the bread and cheese, but I’m sure you’ve got something in your fridge that you can throw in here!
To make the soup: Chop all of your vegetables before starting your saute. Add about 1 Tbl. olive oil to a 2-3 quart soup pot and heat on low-medium heat for a minute or so. Start by adding the onions–they should sizzle a bit when they hit the oil, saute them for a couple of minutes stirring often and then add the remaining vegetables until they are coated in oil adding the carrots first, then celery, but don’t add the garlic until you have already sauteed the other veggies for 5-7 minutes (just long enough so that they are nicely coated in oil and starting to soften) so it doesn’t turn brown or burn in the saute. Add salt and pepper to the saute and if you want a little pinch of oregano or a dash of cayenne or alleppo pepper.
Next, add a few cups of water or broth or a mix of the two to the pot–you’ll want to completely cover the vegetables with liquid plus another few cups depending on the number of veggies you used and the size of your pot so you can just eyeball this, but don’t worry ’cause it’s kinda foolproof. I usually end up using about 6-8 cups of liquid and this is enough for two of us even if it cooks down a bit as it simmers.
Turn up the heat to high and put a lid on the pot until the soup comes to a boil and then promptly turn down the heat. You’ll want a vigorous simmer with the lid slightly askew. If you used a broth this soup is probably ready to eat after you let it simmer for 15 minutes as long as the veggies as soft enough for your liking. If you use water, then I suggest you cook it down a little longer–say 30 min. to an hour–so the flavors develop a bit. Taste it and taste it again. Add salt and pepper as needed.
Make some croutons: While the soup is simmering (you’ll want to keep an eye on it and stir it every 10-15 minutes) take a few slices of bread (I estimate 2 slices to serve 2 people) and lightly toast them to dry them out a bit in your oven or toaster. Cut them up into a crouton size and if you want, just leave them on the counter while the soup cooks before you serve it up.
To Serve: Grate some cheddar cheese (or Gruyere or Jarlsberg if you prefer) into the bottom of a bowl–you can be generous, add a handful of croutons and ladle the warm soup over the top. Mix it all around and enjoy the cheesy goodness with the soup soaked bread. It is de-(wait for it…)-lish!
This is a picture of my heirloom carrot harvest last September. Do you think I had enough of them?
Check out my very first Wonderful Wife Tip with another great soup recipe here.