Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Vegetable Soup with Garlicky Croutons

A warming, hearty vegetable soup with all the colors of the rainbow: orange carrots, green baby spinach, red tomatoes, white fingerling potatoes.  Top it off with some brown cubes of multigrain bread. Sometimes the best part of a meal is how beautiful it is. But that's not the best part of this soup. The best part is how good it is!

The flavor of this soup is excellent.  Besides all the vegetables, I love the use of fresh thyme sprigs (one of which I lost until I found it in my lunch at work... and I never found the bay leaf... oops!  Don't tell Mark or Alex who think you can die form eating those).  And then there's the croutons.

Oh, the croutons. Do not skip the croutons.  They are mandatory.  They are just average cubes of multigrain bread, but when you stir fry them in butter and garlic, they turn into something magical.  I will confess that I had trouble getting them crusty and started to get scared that I was going to burn them, but once I took them off the heat, they crisped up nicely.  They aren't so crispy the next day, but I soak them in the soup anyway so it doesn't really matter.

I ate this soup for dinner, and so did my enthusiastic family.  My mom kept saying how much she loved it. I was more than happy to eat it for lunch all week long at work.  I will say that next time I will probably add some beans for protein - I'm thinking white beans will work well. But other than that, this soup recipe is a keeper.


vegetable soup with garlicky croutons
yield 8-10 servings

for the soup:
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
28 ounce canned tomatoes
4 cups vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
3 sprigs fresh thyme
parmesan rind (optional but recommended)
12 ounces fingerling potatoes, cut into 1/4-inch thick pieces
4 cups baby spinach leaves
salt and pepper, to taste

for the croutons:
3 cups multigrain bread cubes
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 - 4 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper


1)  In a Dutch oven or large stockpot, melt the butter over medium high heat.  Add the onion, carrot, and celery to the pot and cook until mostly softened, 6 - 7 minutes. Stir in garlic and sauté about 1 minute, just until fragrant.  Stir in the diced tomatoes, vegetable stock, bay leaf, thyme and the parmesan rind.  Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and let cook 20 minutes.

2) Add the chopped fingerling potatoes to the pot and simmer just until the potatoes are fork tender.  Stir in the spinach and cook until fully wilted.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Remove the bay leaf.

3) While the soup is simmering, make the croutons.  Heat a large skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium heat.  Melt the butter over medium to medium-low heat. Stir in the garlic and cook about 1 minute.  Stir in the bread cubes, stirring occasionally, until they are golden brown and crisp on all sides (adjusting the heat if necessary).  Serve the soup warm with the croutons on top.

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