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Saturday, January 28, 2017

Grandma's Vegetable Soup

My friend Sarah and I have been buddies for decades, growing up together in North Carolina, and both ending up in New York City years later. She recently left New York and moved to San Francisco to start a new adventure, get re-inspired, and make more art (check out her stuff here!). I miss her.

But when we both were in NYC we would get together for dinners, sometimes out at restaurants, but often at her apartment catching up over a good warm meal and bottle of wine. One night she made me this vegetable soup-- her Grandma's recipe-- and I've been in love with it ever since. Each time I make it I add or try something new and over the past few years have adapted it a bit, primarily making it less vegetarian (i.e., NOT vegetarian). Isn't it better to start every soup with bacon fat??? If you disagree, this can easily be made deliciously vegetarian by subbing the bacon fat with butter/olive oil and using vegetable broth instead of chicken broth. It is filling, satisfying, healthy. A perfect lunch or dinner.

3 pieces of bacon
1-2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, chopped
1 fennel bulb, chopped
1/3 cup flour
1 large (28 oz) and 1 small (14 oz) can of diced tomatoes
6 cups chicken (or vegetable) broth plus 2 cups water
2 red potatoes, chopped
1 cup canned (rinsed) red kidney beans
4 celery stalks, diced
4 carrots, diced
green beans, 1-inch chop
1/2 head of broccoli, chopped florets
a handful of fresh dill, chopped
red pepper flakes
salt and pepper

Cook the bacon in the bottom of a large soup pot and cook until the fat is rendered. Remove the bacon and eat it (you just need the fat for the soup). Add a tablespoon or two of butter, along with the onion and fennel and cook, stirring regularly until softened. Add the flour and stir constantly for approximately 3 minutes.

Add the tomatoes (with juice from the can) and the chicken broth and water and bring to a low boil. Add the potatoes and let simmer for a few minutes. Add the kidney beans and the celery, and continue simmering for a few minutes. Add the carrots and green beans and cook until all vegetables are cooked through.

Lastly, add the broccoli, dill, red pepper flakes (to taste), and salt and pepper. Don't be afraid to season liberally with the herbs and seasonings! Serve with parmesan toast.

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