Having soup in your fridge is like having a rainy day account. Whether it is cold soup in the summer or hot soup in the winter, you always can come home to a delicious meal in a hurry when the children are tired and hungry or you are too tired to cook. When the weather really turns cold, which so far this winter it hasn’t, the soup sometimes never even makes it to the fridge. I just keep a pot on the stove and bring it to a simmer each day until it is gone. It only gets richer.
Matthew and Frances are coming for a visit in a couple of days and while I am planning lots of special meals, I also want a few things that they can grab and for which I don’t have to do a thing. So of course, that means more banana bread and ricotta rum pound cake, but it also means soup. This hearty soup is a one-pot meal and is wonderful after a long day roaming the city or just being lazy by the fire place. This soup is one where you can adjust the vegetables according to taste and what you may have in your fridge or pantry. If you have small children, you may want to cut things into a smaller dice, but since we are all adults in my house, I enjoy large chunks of vegetables. Use this as a guide – not as something written in stone.
Hearty Farm Soup
Yield: 8-10 servings
2 Tablespoons EVOO
2 Tablespoons butter
3 large carrots, peeled and cut into circles (or diced) about 1/2 inch thick
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 leeks (white and light green part only) well washed and sliced
3 parsnips, peeled and cut like the carrots
2 potatoes (red or Yukon Gold) peeled and cut into large dice
1 smoked pork butt (about 2 pounds) cut into large chunks or 2 hamhocks or 2 smoked turkey legs
2 cans (15 oz. each) or about 4 cups of beans (Great Northern, navy or runner beans – I had Scarlet Runner and Garabanzo beans that I had cooked so I am using that)
4 cups chicken broth, preferably unsalted
2 cups water
1/2 green cabbage or 1 bunch kale (curly or Tuscan) cut into large chunks
Kosher Salt and cracked black pepper to taste
Shredded cheese such as a Pecorino, Asiago or Gruyere for serving
- In a 7 quart heavy Dutch oven or pot with a lid, heat the oil and butter on medium heat. Add the leeks and about 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Saute until the leeks begin to soften – about 5 minutes.
- Add the other raw vegetables, except for the cabbage, and saute them for about 3 minutes. Now add the smoked meat, the cooked beans, the stock and water. Bring to a boil.
- As the liquid comes to a boil, you will see some “scum” come to the surface. Using a spoon dipped in hot water, carefully remove as much of the scum as you can. It won’t hurt you or even taste particularly bad if you leave it, but your broth will not be as clear. Don’t be lazy, it’s not a big deal to do.
- After you have skimmed the soup and it has come to a full boil, cover the pot tightly and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 1 hour.
- At the end of the hour, add your cabbage and continue cooking, covered for 30 minutes more. If you need to add liquid, add some boiling water. I tend to like thick soups, but you can control the consistency.
- If you like, the absolute best way to serve this is to top with a thin slice of a crusty day-old country style bread, with one of the cheeses shredded over the top. Place the bowls in the oven at 375 degrees F (unless the will withstand the broiler setting) and heat until the cheese is melted. However, just simply sprinkling the cheese over the bowl of hot soup is delicious too and frankly less fuss.