End-Of-Summer Vegetable Soup
A Year-Round Soup That Triumphs With Autumn Vegetables
- Servings: 4 as a main course.
City cook Betsy Herold sent me this recipe for a vegetable soup that gets thickened with couscous and pink beans. Besides being truly delicious, the gift of this recipe is its versatility. As written, it is fully vegetarian, but Betsy said that it can be wonderful when made with chicken stock and adding some cooked shrimp or pieces of chicken. I would also suggest pieces of cooked pork.
Other variations she suggests are to purée any leftovers to thicken another soup or stew, or to make the soup itself creamier by adding a second can of drained pink beans that are first completely puréed.
- 2 medium leeks, white part, washed carefully and sliced thin
- 1 large or 2 small shallots, finely minced
- 3 medium cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cups thickly shredded carrots
- 1 cup fresh green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 large yellow pepper, coarsely diced into 1/2-1-inch pieces
- 2 medium zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch slices (cut slices in half if the zucchini are particularly large)
- 5 cups good vegetable broth; use diluted boxed stock or your own home-made broth
- 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley (flat leaf)
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup finely minced or shredded fresh basil 1 15.5 oz. can pink beans (drained and rinsed). These are sometimes also called chili beans.
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup couscous, cooked according to package instructions
- Place the extra virgin olive oil in a large soup pot and place over a moderate heat.
- Add the sliced leeks, minced shallots, minced garlic and hot red pepper flakes in the hot oil and cook until soft but not browned, about 2 minutes.
- Add the carrots, green beans, yellow pepper and zucchini and combine, continuing to cook until the vegetables soften, about 8 to 10 minutes.
- Add the vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer, leaving the pot uncovered.
- Add the parsley and basil, plus a generous pinch of salt and 8 or so grinds of black pepper. Gently stir to combine.
- Simmer uncovered until the vegetables are all tender and cooked, and the flavors combine -- about 30 to 45 minutes.
- Add the pink beans to the soup and using a large wooden spoon, crush some of the beans so that a few remain whole but most combine with the soup to thicken it. Taste and adjust seasonings and cook the soup an additional 15 minutes until the beans have fully combined with the vegetables.
- While the soup is cooking, prepare the couscous according to package instructions or in your usual way.
- When ready to serve, place a generous spoonful of cooked couscous (about 1/2 cup each serving) to each soup bowl and pour ladles of the soup over the couscous.
Tip: If you can't find pink or chili beans, pinto beans are a good substitution although they're a bit larger and may need a few more minutes to cook through.
Tip: Carrots can be found already shredded in most produce stores and supermarkets. If you can't find them, you can shred your own in a food processor or substitute ones that are cut into 1/4" slices, although these carrots will take a bit longer to cook than shredded ones.
Tip: Boxed vegetable stock can have a strong flavor so if this is what you're using, consider diluting it with water before adding to your soup. If you have neither boxed stock nor your own home-made vegetable broth, this soup works almost as well with only plain water. And if you're not a vegetarian, chicken stock is another alternative.