A winter day in Minnesota can cut you right to the bone with its wind chill and overcast skies. On days when it’s impossible to walk outside without your eyes watering and immediately freezing shut (happened to me once!), I like to hunker down inside with a giant bowl of steaming soup. While cream-based soups are a decadent treat, I prefer making hearty broth soups filled with vegetables on winter nights. Plus they make me feel a little better about skipping an evening workout!
Despite the cold temperatures, it’s still quite easy to find local produce. Many of the farmers’ markets remain open with limited hours in the winter months and you can buy a winter CSA (community- supported agriculture) share to receive frozen packages of the summer and fall harvest. Check out www.localharvest.org for more information on where to find local produce in the winter. But markets around town, especially co-ops, feature fresh produce year-round!
Try these two hearty soups filled with veggies and warmth for any chilly day.
Makes 4 large portions
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ medium yellow onion, minced fine
2 celery stalks, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 15-oz can white beans
2 carrots, peeled & diced
1 cup green beans, trimmed and chopped into one-inch pieces
1 15-oz can chopped tomatoes
1 15-oz can kidney beans
1 quart of vegetable stock
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 parmesan rind (available at most markets)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 cup short pasta (I used elbow macaroni)
Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven. Add the onion, celery, and garlic, and sauté for about 5 minutes. Add the can of white beans and using a potato masher, mash up most of the beans. This will thicken the base of the soup.
Add the carrots, green beans, tomatoes, kidney beans, stock, oregano, parmesan rind, salt & pepper, and veggie stock. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat, cover, and let simmer for 20 minutes. Uncover and add in the dried pasta. Once the pasta has cooked, remove from heat and serve. Top each bowl with a drizzle of olive oil and freshly cut basil. Enjoy!
Vegetable Noodle Soup with Dumplings
Makes four large portions
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 parsnip, peeled and diced
1 leek, light green & white parts, washed, halved and sliced thin
2 cups frozen egg noodles
1 quart vegetable stock
1 teaspoon soy sauce
Salt & pepper to taste
¾ cup milk
1 ½ teaspoon salt
Prepare the dumplings by beating the eggs, milk, & salt together. Add flour to the mixture until you just cannot add anymore. This will make a very stiff dough. Set aside to prepare the soup base.
In a Dutch oven, heat the olive oil and sauté the garlic and shallots for about three minutes or until the onions are translucent. Add the carrots, celery, and parsnips (and any other veggies you want) and sauté until tender. Add the leeks and sauté for another minute. Flavor the vegetables with a dash of salt & pepper. Toss in the frozen noodles, and sauté briefly.
Pour the veggie stock over the vegetables and bring to a boil. Add the soy sauce and stir.
Add dumplings to the soup, using rounded tablespoons to create the dumplings. Reduce heat and boil covered for about 10 minutes or until the noodles have thickened up. If the soup is losing too much water, add more stock.
Garnish with basil and serve!
Christine Hinrichs is a vegetarian who loves everything related to food. She daydreams about recipes, frequents the local farmers’ markets and reads cookbooks before bed. When not preoccupied with food, she enjoys running the lakes and trails in the Twin Cities and helps rescue stray animals from local shelters. Read about her food adventures at ruminationsonfood.blogspot.com.