Shoulder Season Soup

Dinner: September 28, 2010

I’m in commuter hell this week – I’ve had a succession of early or late buses in the morning, consistently late trains, and unplanned cab rides home from the train station which, in addition to being annoyingly expensive and sometimes terrifying, have put me in a big ole cranky mood in the evening, and craving exactly what we’ve been trying to get away from – comfort food.

I sat on the train in my work clothes drenched to the bone after a rain-soaked spin through the Boston Public Market on Tuesday, with tomatoes and fennel and green beans and squash globes and all sorts of other goodies in my totes, and decided a big veg-laden soup was in order. After I got home, I peeled off my damp clothes and changed into something warm and dry, and then I got to chopping: slender leeks, carrots, fresh celery, beautifully ripe plum tomatoes, sweet red peppers, globe zucchini, fresh thyme branches and green beans all went into my pot at various stages, sprinkled with salt and bathed in dribbles of olive oil and a judicious amount of red wine as they cooked down. I added a little bit of orzo to the mix, and when it was tender, added a good amount of freshly grated parm to the soup off the heat. I blitzed up a fresh parsley and fennel frond pistou in the mini chopper to spoon on top, and served up our soup with a few thick slices of Olga’s Pane Francese and some gooey, runny cheese from Farmstead.

As antidotes go, this was just about perfect.

12 thoughts on “Shoulder Season Soup

  1. Good for you. My commute for the last ten years has been limited to a steep uphill half-mile walk, but I know how hard it is to start cooking the minute you walk in the door. This sounds beautiful.

  2. Elaine says:

    This looks so yummy-and I would love to recreate it- this might sound stupid but what did you use for the soup base-or broth?

    • Jennifer Hess says:

      Hi Elaine – not a stupid question at all! I added about 2 cups of plain tap water to the soup after my initial softening of the leeks/celery/carrot/fennel/bell peppers, and after the tomatoes had begun to cook down. The remaining liquid was released by the vegetables as they cooked. I did add about 1/4 cup of red wine, which added some fruity acidity and roundness, and tasted and salted along the way to make sure the flavors were in balance. Try it out and let me know how it works for you!

  3. Oh, I feel you on the crappy commutes–last night was the first time in weeks that the train hadn’t been late, and I have a sinking suspicion that it was a proverbial bone thrown at me in anticipation of what will be a windy and wet trek home tonight.

    I’m going to have to give this soup a try, albeit minus the green beans. Veg soups with red wine are absolutely scrumptious!

  4. jamie says:

    you are in a word…….inspiring!
    i feel so much “yes you can” coming through in your blog.
    thank you

  5. alice says:

    I did the PVD-BOS train commute more years than I care to think about, so I know how important it is to come home to a comfy place, with good food and drink at the end of the trip. I am a big soup person – this one sounds right up my alley! Thanks for sharing!

  6. Hey Jenn Hope your doing well. Just wanted to let you know I made this soup and my family loved it. They have requested I make it again and more of it. Thanks for the recipe. I enjoy your writing so much and your recipes are a blessing especially when my mind draws a blank as to what to cook. I often come to your page and away find inspiration. God bless you and your family. warm regards Carmen<

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