September 27, 2010

Vegetable and Rice Soup

I kicked off this weekend's adventures with a trip to the farmer's market. I've been meaning to go for weeks now. I finally saw Food Inc. this week, and apparently that was all the motivation I needed. Great film, by the way, as are the books by both authors featured. Full disclosure, though: I did eat a bowl of Smacks during the movie. Apparently, it was convincing enough to get me up at 7:30 on a Saturday morning, but not enough to keep me from eating things with 40+ ingredients.


Back to my market trip: I managed to resist the temptation of the crazy juices, donuts, bagels, and homemade pastries (are we sure that organic cream puffs aren't good for me? Really sure?) and mostly stick to my list. I made it back to my car loaded down with fresh eggs, tons of herbs that I will try my hardest not to kill, plenty of delicious things to dip in hummus, and grass-fed beef.

In celebration of delicious things, lunch was maybe the most amazing poached egg I've ever had, soaked up by a crusty piece of bread and topped with fresh rosemary. Dinner was the first burger I've had in a couple years (I think), on a flaky roll and topped with orange-dyed cheese that comes individually wrapped and somehow melts before any contact with heat. Things like this find their way home when you live with boys. The beef, though, was delicious.

I had planned to share my favorite recipe for pizza dough, but the vegetables and densely seeded homemade bread I came home with were just begging to become a pot of soup (with, um, bread. Which does not go in the soup.).
How could this not turn out well?
You see the garlic, right?

This soup is my go-to guy for any number of occasions: when it's cold out, when I accidentally buy way more vegetables that we'll normally eat, when I realize that the boy hasn't eaten anything green in a week. I've been making it for so long that it was weird to go back and look at the original recipe. No oregano? That's sometimes the only spice I add! What do you mean a small zucchini, I usually add two! I actually made this soup with beet greens instead of spinach once and ended up with a bright purple concoction. It was delicious, but I couldn't convince anyone else to try it. I think there's still some of that batch in my freezer.

As is, this soup is perfect for the end of summer. You can fill it up with that last push of summer produce still coming in, but it's warm and filling enough for those first nights where you start to feel hints of fall. Which I'm pretty sure doesn't exist in the South. Enjoy!

Vegetable and Rice Soup

Go ahead and toss in almost any veggies you have on hand. I sometimes add a can of french-cut green beans, and you can use just about any kind of green.  I often end up with a much bigger pot of soup than I intended, but it keeps beautifully in the freezer!

Adapted from Ellie Krieger.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 large (or 2 small) zucchini, diced
1.5 cups chopped okra
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
5 cups good quality chicken or vegetable stock
1 can (14.5 oz) cannellini or great northern beans, drained and rinsed well.
3 large sage leaves, chopped (or 0.5 teaspoon dried)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano (or 1 teaspoon dried)
2 cups spinach
1 cup cooked brown rice (preferably cooked in stock)
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Heat oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, celery, and carrots, and cook for about 2 minutes. Add zucchini and okra, cook for about 5 more minutes or until tender.

Add canned tomato (including juices) and stock. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for another 5 minutes. Meanwhile, chop the spinach and herbs, and in a small bowl, mash half the cannellini beans with the back of a fork.

Add beans (mashed and whole), spinach, and herbs. Turn off heat, the spinach will wilt on its own from the heat of the soup.

Add rice, and salt and pepper to taste. Serve with warm, crusty bread, and top with freshly grated parmesan cheese if desired.

Serves 8.


  1. We have the perfect weather for this soup! I can't wait to make it. I love things that are just packed full of veggies. I started making smoothies that have 2-3 cups of spinach in them - it turns them bright green, but you can't taste it at all!

  2. I just made chicken stock from two chickens I got at Whole Foods, so this will be a good addition to the long list of things I'll be making soon. I think I have about 22+ cups of chicken stock in the freezer right now.... whoops! :)

  3. Mary- I've always been skeptical about green smoothies. Maybe I'll try it, though.

    Megan- I saw that you made stock, and I'm impressed! I made turkey stock once, but it turned into a gross, gelatinous mess.
    I cook everything in stock, so too much isn't necessarily a bad thing.

  4. Wait. Wait wait wait. You just make a regular smoothie, with, like, strawberries and bananas and stuff, and put spinach in it? And you can't taste the spinach?!

    I'm dubious.

    I also don't know how to make a regular smoothie.

  5. This is the green smoothie recipe. I call it a green monster, just for fun:
    1 banana
    1 cup almond milk (or other milk of your choice, but I like almond milk because it's only 40 calories a cup, no added sugar, and vanilla flavored so it adds a little sweetness. If you dare think you can try another milk after that, then taste at your own risk)
    2-3 cups spinach
    a couple spoonfuls of Ovaltine. This is what brings the delicious factor in.

    I suppose you could also use strawberries and anything else you wanted, but I like to just use a banana because it doesn't have too strong of a flavor.

    Case in point on how delicious they are: this morning, Brad was getting ready for work (before I need to get up) and he came over to my side of the bed and whispered "will you make me a green monster for breakfast?"

  6. Oh, my word, I almost forgot the ice! DON'T leave out ice or it will be undrinkably thick.

  7. Hahah, Erik gets up an hour before I do, and he does the exact same thing to me! If I say something about getting up early, he makes sure I know whether he would like oatmeal or an omelet. He makes an excellent alarm clock.