Umbrian Vegetable Soup (Zuppa di Verdure all’Agliata)

I used to hate vegetables as a child, but I don’t recall my mother actually making much effort to feed me a variety of vegetables.  Recently she confided in me that she never liked vegetables, but as an elderly person she is making an effort to eat some.  That explains why vegetables were absent from most of my childhood!!

I only started to really enjoy and appreciate vegetables when my children were born (that would be about 13 years ago).  As a new parent I wanted to ensure that I was feeding my children the best that I can give to them.  I’m happy to say that my children will eat and at least try most vegetables.  Some of our favorite vegetables that keep on appearing on our kitchen table are:  kale (or other leafy greens), spinach, carrots, bell peppers, beets, parsnips, squash, tomatoes (technically considered a fruit, but oh well…), zucchinis, potatoes (all varieties) & jicama. I will make any excuses to add these vegetables to our favorite soup, stew and/or stir fry!

I also added  lot of these vegetables to this Umbrian Vegetable Soup which made the soup really savory, sweet and rich. Even though I acquired this recipe from Saveur, it originally came from Lidia Bastianich.  This soup is perfect for the cool Fall weather; just have some bread with the soup and you’re set to go!

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Serves 12:

1⁄2 cup packed basil leaves
1⁄4 cup extra-virgin olive oil,
plus more for drizzling
2 Tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
4 cloves garlic
1⁄2 medium onion, cut into chunks
8 oz. red new potatoes, cut into 1⁄2″ cubes
3 stalks celery, minced
2 medium carrots, minced
2 plum tomatoes, cored and minced
Kosher salt, to taste
3 oz. spinach, trimmed and rinsed
(about 2 loosely packed cups)
1 1⁄2 cups canned cannellini beans, rinsed
1 cup fresh or frozen green peas
1⁄2 small head frisée, leaves cut
into bite-size pieces (about 2 cups)
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Freshly grated Grana Padano or Parmesan,
for serving

1. Place half the basil, 2 tbsp. oil, parsley, garlic, and onions in the bowl of a food processor and process until slightly chunky. Heat remaining oil in an 8-qt. pot over medium-high heat and add herb–garlic mixture. Cook, stirring often, until no liquid remains, about 5 minutes. Add potatoes, celery, carrots, and tomatoes. Cook, stirring often, until vegetables are golden brown, about 6 minutes. Add salt and 4 cups water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.
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2. Stir in spinach, beans, peas, and frisée and cook until greens are wilted and just tender, about 10 minutes; season with salt and pepper and stir in remaining basil. To serve, ladle soup into bowls, sprinkle with Grana Padano, and drizzle with oil.
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My opinion: As I have mentioned before, this soup is savory, mild and rich.  Garlic and basil brings the freshness and other vegetables contribute to the sweet and rich broth.  Aside from the vegetables in the ingredient list I added parsnip, golden beets and extra tomatoes. 

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