Tuesday, December 14, 2010

0 Recipe #214: Homemade Alphabet Soup For Grown-Ups :)

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Homemade alphabet soup with stelline, miniature star-shaped pasta.

Like many other kids, I grew up eating Campbell's alphabet soup. When we were small, our mother would feed us their "vegetarian vegetable" soup (with ABC's), usually on a cold winter's day. She'd call us in for lunch after we'd been playing in the snow -- we'd usually spend hours outside making snowmen & igloos. :) We'd come out of the cold, quickly peel off our jackets and snow boots, and then head into the kitchen for a nice hot bowl of alphabet soup.

I haven't had Campbell's alphabet soup in years, but obviously have fond memories of eating it as a child. It was something we really used to look forward to as kids, primarily because it would give us an excuse to play with our food and get away with it. ;) We'd spoon out the letters and arrange them on our plates, seeing how many words we could spell from our bowls. It was great fun!

So, from this inspiration came the idea to make a grown-up version of alphabet soup, but of course, it can enjoyed by adults and kids alike.

The nice thing about this version is that it has far less sodium and other additives than Campbell's version. That means you won't have to keep running into the kitchen for a glass of water every few minutes. ;) Plus, there's a great variety of vegetables in it. So you can enjoy this soup knowing that every tasty mouthful is good for you too. :)

As for pasta choices, you can either go with the traditional ABC's or try using mini pasta shapes like stelline, orechiette, anelletti, rotelli, ditalini, tripolini, tubetti, gnocchetti sardi, rahettiradiatori, or farfellini. So go wild and just have fun with it!

Homemade Alphabet Soup For Grown-Ups :)

1/2 gallon (8 c.) water
1 Tbsp. garlic, peeled & finely minced (about 2 large cloves)
1/2 c. yellow onion, peeled & diced
1 large, fresh bay leaf
1/2 c. celery, chopped crosswise into 1/4" thick pieces (about 1 large stalk)
1 c. baby carrots, sliced crosswise into 1/4" thick rounds
1/2 c. parsnips, peeled & sliced crosswise into 1/4" thick rounds (about 1 1/4 large parsnips)
1 c. red-skinned potatoes, peeled & diced into 1/2" cubes (about 1 medium-sized potato)
2 Tbsp. fresh dill, finely minced & tightly packed
1/4 c. fresh curly leaf parsley, finely minced & tightly packed
1/2 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
1/2 Tbsp. fresh rosemary leaves, roughly chopped & tightly packed
1/2 c. miniature pasta shapes (alphabet letters, stellinerotelliditalinirahettiradiatorifarfellini, etc.)
1 c. (canned) cannellini beans, drained & rinsed (about 1/2 of a 19 oz. can)
1 1/4 c. fresh vine-ripened tomatoes, diced (about 1 1/2 medium-sized tomatoes)
1 1/2 c. fresh watercress, roughly chopped & tightly packed
1 1/2 c. fresh baby spinach, tightly packed
6 Tbsp. tomato paste
1/2 tsp. salt, or to taste
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper or to taste
2 Tbsp. fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped & tightly packed
1-2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice, or to taste

Directions: Bring water to a rolling boil, about 8-10 minutes. Add garlic, onion, bay leaf, celery, baby carrots, parsnips, potatoes, dill, parsley, thyme, & rosemary, and continue to boil, uncovered, until vegetables have become tender, about 15 minutes.

While soup is boiling, make the mini pasta shapes. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water, seasoned with a drop of olive oil, to a rolling boil, about 8 minutes. Add pasta & cook until al dente, according to package instructions. (Barilla's stelline takes 7 minutes to cook.) When ready, drain into a colander & set aside. At this point, you should be ready to add the remaining vegetables to the soup.

Add cannellini beans, tomatoes, watercress, spinach, & tomato paste to the soup, and continue to boil for about 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally to evenly distribute tomato paste. Season with salt & pepper, & remove from heat. Add basil & lemon juice (a bit at time, to taste), give soup a quick stir, & then cover & let rest for about 10-15 minutes, or until cool. Discard bay leaf.

Add pasta into soup just before serving. Serve immediately.

Yield: Approximately 1/2 gallon (8 c.), or about 4-6 servings.

Chef's Notes: Only make the pasta shapes if you're going to serve the soup on the same day. Otherwise, you can refrigerate the soup until you're ready to serve it. And then, just before serving, boil, drain, & add the pasta to the soup.

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