As we continue to move into cooler weather, I've been looking for some new soup recipes. This one comes from the folks at Moosewood Restaurant in New York. According to them, this hearty soup is usually made around the time that olives are harvested. I know I just wrote about Italy yesterday....
One day, I hope I can make it there during the olive harvest. I heard recently that someone invented a machine that shakes the olives from their branches. That's not what I want to see. Instead, I want to go someplace where they still do everything by hand. A place where they use heavy stone wheels to crush the oil out, as they have done for centuries. Take that back. Millennia.
Wouldn't it be great to dip some crusty bread into that fresh, spicy, cloudy oil? I bet there's nothing like that taste anywhere, certainly not out of a bottle. Of course, you'd have to be there to try it.
Tuscan Harvest Soup
makes 10 cups
2 cups chopped onion
1 tsp salt
2 tbl olive oil
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tsp ground fennel seed
1 cup celery, chopped
1 1/2 cup carrots, chopped
1 cup fennel bulb, chopped
2 cups green cabbage, chopped
2 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash
4 cups vegetable stock
1 cup water
1 15 oz can cannellini beans, drained
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 tbl minced thyme
1/4 cup chopped fennel leaves (or parsley)
3 tbl lemon juice
In a covered soup pot on medium-low heat, cook the onions and salt in the olive oil for about five minutes. Add the garlic, ground fennel, and celery and cook for about three minutes. Stir in the carrots and cook for about three minutes. Add the chopped fennel bulb and cabbage, and cook for about five minutes. Add the squash, vegetable broth, and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until the squash softens bur does not fall apart, five to ten minutes.
In a blender, puree 1 cup of the beans with 1 cup of the soup. Stir the puree into the soup pot. Add the remaining beans, black pepper, thyme, and fennel leaves. Simmer, covered for about 10 minutes until all of the vegetables are tender and flavors have melded.
Just before serving, stir in lemon juice. If desired, place a piece of toasted bread in individual soup bowl, and drizzle with a little olive oil. Ladle the soup over the bread and drizzle a little more olive oil on top.