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Fall Harvest Vegetable Soup
When you make a stewed meat dish, you usually brown the meat first to richen the broth. So when you make a veggie soup, why not brown the veggies first? All the fond from the bottom of the pan helps make a flavorful veggie broth.
You'll score some more flavor if you hold off adding the browned veggies to the broth until the end. That way, the veggies will still have some texture and personality of their own.
The following should all be chopped in 1/2-inch chunks:
1/2 cup butternut squash
1/2 cup parsnips
1/2 cup carrots
1/2 cup Yukon gold potatoes
1/2 cup broccoli
1/2 cup cauliflower
2 bay leaves
1/2 fresh chili pepper, minced, seeds removed
Chopped cilantro for garnish
1/4 cup chick peas from can, or already cooked (optional)
Handful of cherry tomatoes (optional)
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
In addition, ready a few halved broccoli florets and a halved carrot. These will be your sacrificial veggies (see below).
Have a few large bowls handy.
In large, All-clad style saute pan on medium high heat, saute the potatoes in some canola oil, salt & pepper. Allow some chunks to stick to the bottom (don't use high heat, or nothing will stick). Turn a few times, but do not cook through. Remove potatoes and keep in a large bowl. Drain off excess oil or reserve it. Heat up the burned bits on the bottom of the pan (the fond) until brown, but not black. Pour in about 8 oz. water to deglaze, scraping up all the fond. Return the liquid to another bowl.
Repeat with the other vegetables. If the bowl of deglazing liquid is full, you can deglaze with some of it instead of using new water.
In a stock pot, saute the chili pepper for a few minutes along with your sacrificial veggies. They are sacrificial because they will be boiled to death to get the flavor out of them and into the broth, while the smaller chunks will be added at the end so that they keep their flavor and texture.
Add the bay leaves and deglazing liquid to the stock pot. The liquid should be medium to dark brown from all the deglazing action. Bring to boil and simmer until the sacrificial veggies turn mushy. Remove the sacrificial veggies and chuck them -- they have done their duty and have surrendered their flavor. If broth is not flavorful enough, reduce a little.
Add all browned vegetables, and optional chick peas and/or cherry tomatoes. Add some water if all veggies are not covered. Bring to a boil and simmer until potatoes are cooked through, but no longer (about 5 minutes). Broccoli should still be bright green and have some texture left. Don't overcook them.
Top with chopped cilantro and some thyme-rosemary croutons. Serves about 4.
Note: be careful of the steam when deglazing the pan.
©2011 Darrin DuFord