Larrupin

Uncommonly Good

Hearty Italian Vegetable Soup

I came across a Hearty Italian Vegetable Soup in an email today, and since I had a zucchini in the fridge I decided I needed to make it for lunch.

So I did.

Italian Vegetable Soup in Larrupin

I pinned it, and then printed the recipe. I made a few changes off the top, mostly to the sequence of events, and switched out the broth, the beans and the tomato products. My recipe—with the changes—is below.

I started with this deep cast iron skillet acquired at a garage sale. Paid a whopping $5 for the rusty old thing. The size is midway between a skillet and a Dutch Oven. I cleaned it up and this is my first time to use it.

Should have taken a “before” picture! It was a mess.

Iron Skillet, Flea Market Find

Ain’t it purty? Cleaned up right nice, din’t it?

Beautiful seasoning! This is what a well-seasoned iron skillet is supposed to look like! My plan was to resell it because it was so gross I didn’t know if I could get it all the way back. But I might be in love. Even though it’s a no-name skillet, it will do the job.

Celery and onion went in first.

Hearty Italian Vegetable Soup on Larrupin

I always chop the onion last, just in case it makes me cry. When the onions and celery are soft and smelling good, I add the garlic. Garlic will burn if you cook it too long or if the heat is too high so I wait to add it just before the next step.

Hearty Italian Vegetable Soup on Larrupin

I added the carrots here because I’m not a fan of soggy cooked carrots. Adding them now means they still have some crunch when the soup is done. If you like soft cooked carrots, you can put them in the pot at the beginning.

Hearty Italian Vegetable Soup on Larrupin

This is where I added the dried oregano. I could have added it sooner, but I forgot. I like to stir it around and coat the veggies with it before adding the liquids.  I don’t know if it’s true or not, but I think the veggies take in more flavor when I do this instead of letting the herbs just swim around in the liquid later.

Hearty Italian Vegetable Soup on Larrupin

Now I add the broth, crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce. Then the zucchini—I don’t like soggy zucchini either—and the rosemary. I intended to drop in a sprig of fresh rosemary, which is why I didn’t put it in with the oregano, but instead of taking the time to go outside and snip some, I used what I had in the cabinet.

While I waited for everything to come to a boil, I built a salad.

Salad on Larrupin

A couple of handfuls of spring mix; two slices of seasoned, crispy, oven-baked French bread croutons, broken into pieces; a sprinkle of sunflower seeds; and some slivers of Parmesan. I dressed it with homemade vinaigrette: olive oil, cranberry vinegar (homemade), brown and spicy mustard, Worcestershire, Tabasco, garlic granules, and sugar).

When the soup came to a boil…

Hearty Italian Vegetable Soup on Larrupin

… I added the pasta.

Then I ate my salad.

Italian Vegetable Soup in Larrupin

When I finished the salad the pasta was done, and, as pasta does, it absorbed a lot of liquid. I added the beans with the liquid (again, I don’t like soggy, smushy beans) and filled the empty can with water to add to the soup. I didn’t want to dilute the flavor, so I sprinkled a teaspoon or so of chicken bouillon granules on top and stirred it into the mix.

Hearty Italian Vegetable Soup on Larrupin

Salt and pepper to taste. I only added a smidge of salt but I gave it several good cranks of the pepper mill. I add pepper to practically everything.

Then I spooned it into my salad bowl. I used a wooden stirring spoon so I didn’t get a lot of liquid. I gave it a good splash of Tabasco and  garnished with slivers of cheese. I used a potato peeler.

It was larrupin!

Italian Vegeable Soup on Larrupin

Hearty Italian Vegetable Soup

It was 1 hour and 4 minutes from the first picture to the last. The original recipe said 30 minutes, 10 for prep and 20 to cook, but I couldn’t do it that fast unless I had help chopping the vegetables.

This would make a yummy brown bag lunch with a salad, and it will freeze well for leftovers. Leftovers and freezing are two more reasons I don’t overcook the veggies.

1.

3 large stalks Chopped Celery In Dutch oven, sauté onion and celery in oil.

2.

1 medium/smallish Chopped Onion

3.

2–3 Tbsp Olive oil

4.

2–3 Garlic Cloves Minced garlic Add garlic to sauté.

5.

1–2 tsp Dried oregano Season with dried herbs, stir to coat veggies.

6.

2–3 carrots Chunky chopped carrots Add carrots.

7.

1 32 oz box Swanson’s Chicken Broth Pour in broth, crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce.

8.

1 14.5 oz can Crushed tomatoes

9.

1 8 oz. Tomato sauce

10.

1–2  stems Fresh rosemary Add rosemary and zucchini. Bring to a boil.

11.

1 small zucchini Thick sliced zucchini

12.

2 cups Uncooked pasta Add pasta. Stir. Cook al dente.

Eat your salad while the pasta cooks.

13.

1× 15.5 oz can Great northern beans Add beans and liquid.

14.

1 15 oz. can Water Use the empty bean can to add water.

15.

1–2 tsp. Wyler’s Chicken Bouillon Granules Sprinkle on top. Stir.
To taste Salt & Pepper

Finish eating your salad and then ladle the soup into your salad bowl.

Garnish Parmesan Cheese
Optional Tabasco Sauce

 

December 6, 2012 Posted by | Brown Bag, Salad, Soup | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Welcome to Brown Bagging

BLT Soup

Right after New Year’s Day, many morning news shows fill spare air time with variations on the theme, New Year’s Resolutions. In January Dr. Oz filled one of those slots on Good Morning America and listed the top ten things you can eat, or change about your eating habits, to be healthier this year. Number one on his list was  “avoid saturated fats.”

My weakness is salty, savory foods rather than sweets, and in particular I love French fries and potato chips. Going out to lunch, usually to a fast food joint, meant I was eating a lot of burgers and fries. My weight was also creeping up and add all that to the unexpected she-should-have-died heart attack my mom had two years ago and I decided it was time for me to make some changes.

Spinach Strawberry Salad

Spinach Strawberry Salad

I decided to start with Dr. Oz’s “avoid saturated fats,” primarily my favorites: French fries, greasy burgers and potato chips. But in order to do that, I needed to change my lunch routine without breaking the bank. The logical thing to do was to make my own lunch. So that’s what I’ve been doing for more than a month.

Every single day.

In one month I’ve saved about $160, and lost one pant size. W00t!

Since I started brown bagging, I’ve had lots of salads, some soups, and a few sandwiches. I’ve had some leftovers: spaghetti, roast chicken and rice, things like that. I’ve also stocked my desk with filling, good-for-me snacks.

Hungarian Mushroom Soup

Hungarian Mushroom Soup

While I’m doing this to eat healthier, I’m also broke. It’s much cheaper to buy at the grocery store than at a convenience store so I’m on a zero tolerance policy when it comes to “extra” spending.  I take coffee from home. I buy milk by the gallon and liters or half-gallons of juice and take it to work in recycled bottles. I make my own “iced” herb tea to have with lunch.

I have some to-go salad containers with good lids I saved from my fast-food days that work great for salads. I do the final salad assembly at my desk to keep them crisp and fresh. The same with sandwiches. I heat the soups in the microwave and take the garnishes in separate containers.

Mushroom Potato Soup

Mushroom Potato Soup

I have another blog, Larrupin, with details and recipes—some good for brown bags, some not so much—but this one will be more how-to. I’ll share the plans and lists and how I go about doing this every day. I’ll also show you the bowls, containers, bottles and bags I use to get it there every day. That part is still a work in progress.

So far I’ve been eating at my desk, which is not much of a break. But now that I’ve established the habit of taking my lunch and the weather is improving, I’ll take it to the park, just three blocks from my office, or eat at my desk and then take a walk.

What do you usually do for lunch? Where do you go to eat and how much do you spend? Do you eat healthy, or scarf down a fast lunch of burgers and fries? And if you’re a fan of brown bags let me know how you do it and what your favorites are. And while you’re at it, click the box to get email updates when I create a new post. I’m looking forward to hearing from you.

Jan

April 18, 2010 Posted by | Brown Bag, Soup | , , , | 2 Comments

Mushroom Potato Soup

It’s another snowy day in Oklahoma.  And yes, it’s the first day of spring. So it’s a good day for soup.

I bought leeks last week for potato soup and I also had almost eight ounces of mushrooms in the fridge that I needed to use. But instead of making two soups, I put them together and came up with this one.

First, I took the outer leaves off the leeks and after removing the root end I cut them into super thin slices. I put the slices in a colander ran water over them while separating the rings to be sure and get all the dirt from between the layers. Leeks are part of the family of onions and, while similar to onions, they have a milder flavor. I like the flavor they give my soups and stews, and I was also happy to see them on this website as one of the World’s Healthiest Foods.

When I was satisfied the leeks were clean, I put them in a three quart sauce pan over low heat. I added a splash of olive oil and stirred it into the leeks.  While the leeks started to saute, I washed and sliced the mushrooms, saved a few of the best for garnish and added the rest of the mushrooms to the pan.

When the leeks were soft and the mushrooms had given up their liquid I added some white wine, just to cover the veggies, and let it continue to cook while I peeled the potatoes. I cut the potatoes into medium chunks and put them in the pan with the leeks and mushrooms. I added water* to just barely cover the potatoes and turned up the heat.

*NOTE:  I usually use chicken broth instead of water, or at least water with chicken bullion, but my son is dating a vegetarian, and has agreed to try it for a month. He was coming over later in the day, so I made this vegetarian for him. I didn’t mention the mushrooms though. He insists he doesn’t like them. Shhhh…

It wasn’t long before the potatoes were fork tender. I turned the heat down and used a potato masher to break it all into smaller pieces. Next I got out my immersion blender and used it to turn the potatoes and mushrooms into a thick puree. I seasoned the soup with salt and pepper and my own garlic rich Janz herb blend. It very thick so now I added milk. I poured in a little at a time and stirred it in until it was the soupy consistency I was looking for.

When I was ready to eat, I filled a bowl and garnished it with a small dollop of sour cream, several super thin slices of carrots (I used a potato peeler to get them paper thin), fresh mushroom slices and a sprinkle of green onions. I am a pepper fiend so I had to add fresh cracked pepper to the top.

When my son arrived, I garnished his soup with carrot slices and grated Jarlsberg cheese. Other possible garnishes include avocado slices, grated Parmesan, seasoned croutons, and crumbled bacon.

Here’s the ingredient list with estimated quantities.

The Soup:

  • 4 leeks, sliced very thin, separated, washed well
  • 6–8 ounces button mushrooms, sliced
  • Olive oil, a tablespoon or so
  • About 1/2 C white wine
  • 5–6 medium potatoes, peeled, large dice
  • Water (or chicken broth) to cover potatoes
  • Seasonings: salt, pepper, Janz Seasoning Blend
  • Milk

Garnishes:

  • Sour Cream
  • Carrot slices, paper thin
  • Mushroom slices, very fresh mushrooms
  • Chives
  • Grated cheese, whatever sounds good to you
  • Avocado slices
  • Seasoned croutons
  • Crumbled bacon

Mmmmm…. Larrupin!

March 21, 2010 Posted by | Soup | , , , , | Leave a comment

BLT—and then some—Soup

This isn’t your old-fashioned Campbell’s lunchtime  soup.

Although as a kid I loved my Campbell’s Tomato Soup filled with an equal part of crumbled saltines.

Craving a BLT, I pulled a Ziploc bag of homemade tomato soup from the freezer.
The frozen slab of soup went into the microwave on defrost and while I spread a few slices of bacon in a hot skillet.
When the soup defrosted enough to break into pieces, I put it in a 4 quart glass measuring cup to finish. The bacon cooked until crispy and I pulled the other ingredients together:

  • 8–10 small leaves of baby spinach
  • 6–8 leaves of cilantro
  • Sliced almonds
  • Parmesan and Romano cheeses
  • Janz seasoned croutons
  • Pepper mill filled with black pepper

 

Bacon, Spinach, Tomato Soup

Tomato Soup garnished with baby spinach, cilantro and crispy crumbled bacon.

When the soup was hot I poured it into a shallow soup bowl and garnished it as follows:

  1. Make a rosette of baby spinach leaves in the center of the bowl
  2. Add a few cilantro leaves
  3. Crumbled crispy bacon on top of the spinach

 

BLT Soup And Then Some

Tomato Soup layered with spinach, cilantro, bacon, almonds, cheeses, and a great big crusty crouton.

Continue garnishing with sliced almonds, grated cheeses and crunchy croutons. Don’t forget to add a generous grind of black pepper.

Larrupin!

March 8, 2010 Posted by | Soup | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Janz Hungarian Mushroom Soup

Mushroom soup is one of my favorites, especially since it’s so easy to make from scratch.
Saute a few mushrooms in butter or olive oil and add a splash of white wine or a squeeze of lemon juice for a little tartness. Add chicken broth, or water and chicken bouillon and let it simmer. Thicken with cornstarch if you want, add milk, cream, sour cream or even cream cheese to make it more creamy than brothy if that’s what you like. 
Garnish with fresh grated Parmesan or a slice of provolone, maybe some avocado slices, a dollop of sour cream and a generous sprinkling of fresh ground pepper blend… mmmm. A splatter of sliced almonds would add a tasty crunch. 

A few days ago I had some mushrooms I wanted to use, but I wanted something different. So I did some searching and came across a Hungarian take on mushroom soup which of course I had to tweak.

Janz Hungarian Mushroom Soup

1 T olive oil
1/2 C thinly sliced yellow onion
1T butter
 8 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced
1/2 C white wine
1/2 T dried dill weed
1/2 T paprika
1/2 T soy sauce
1 C chicken broth
1 C milk
1 T cornstarch
1 t salt
Ground black pepper to taste
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 C chopped Italian parsley
1/4 C sour cream
Seasoned croutons
3-4 slices of crisp bacon
Feta, crumbled
Green onions, thinly sliced

Saute onions in olive oil until tender, about 5 minutes
Add sliced mushroom, butter, and wine. Saute 5 more minutes
Stir in the dill, paprika, soy sauce and broth. Reduce heat to low, and simmer 15 minutes.
Combine milk and cornstarch in a pint jar with a tight lid and shake well to mix. Pour this into the soup and stir well to blend. Simmer 15 more minutes stirring occasionally.
Finally, stir in the salt, pepper, lemon juice, parsley and sour cream. Mix together and allow to heat through over low heat, about 3-5 minutes. Do not boil.
To serve, place several large seasoned croutons in the bottom of a shallow soup bowl. Ladle a serving of soup over the croutons. Garnish with crumbled feta, crispy bacon and green onions.

Larrupin!


PS: This is a larrupin good brown bag lunch.

Put a meal size portion in a plastic container, the croutons and bacon go in another container and use another small container for the feta and green onions. At lunchtime put the croutons and soup in a microwave-proof bowl (one that won’t get hot when you take it out), and when it’s hot, garnish with the bacon, feta and green onions. 

March 5, 2010 Posted by | Brown Bag, Soup | , , | Leave a comment

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