A pioneering champion of sustainable foods, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall embraces all manner of vegetables in his latest cookbook, River Cottage Veg, an inventive offering of more than 200 vegetable-based recipes that includes vegan recipes, handy weeknight one-pot meals, pure and simple raw dishes, hearty salads and more. This roasted eggplant recipe with seasoned potatoes is from chapter 4 “Hefty soups”.
We often prepare this recipe to showcase some of our early summer produce from the River Cottage garden. You may not have access to the same range of just-picked veg, but gather some good, fresh stuff from a farm stand, farmers market, or greengrocer, and you will get a similar result. Vary the veg according to what is available. Just chop it all into small, similar-sized pieces and “build” the soup, cooking the harder, denser vegetables for slightly longer, and you’ll end up with a vibrant, fresh-tasting bowl. For more vegetable-based recipes, see Frequently Vegetarian: Making a Case for Eating More Vegetables.
• 2 small fennel bulbs, trimmed (any feathery fronds chopped and reserved)
• 2 celery stalks
• A small bunch of green onions, trimmed
• About 1 pound small zucchini
• A bunch of ruby or rainbow Swiss chard
• 2 tablespoons butter
• 1 tablespoon canola or olive oil
• 1 quart vegetable stock
• Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 3 to 5 ounces fresh shelled peas
• 3 to 5 ounces fresh shelled fava beans, blanched and peeled if large
• 2 small lettuces, such as Little Gem, shredded
• 2 tablespoons finely chopped mixed herbs, such as mint, lemon balm, parsley, basil, fennel fronds, and/or chives
• A few fresh pea shoots (optional)
1. Chop the fennel, celery, green onions, and zucchini into small dice, keeping them separate. Tear the leaves from the chard stalks and shred them; cut the stalks into small pieces.
2. Heat a saucepan over medium heat and add the butter and oil. Add the fennel, celery, green onions, and chard stalks and cook gently for about 10 minutes, until soft but not colored. Add the stock and bring to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Make sure your broth is simmering well and add the zucchini. Once returned to a simmer, cook for 1 minute, then add the peas and fava beans. Simmer for another 2 minutes. Check that the peas and beans are just tender, then add the lettuce and the shredded chard leaves. Simmer for another minute.
4. Add the chopped herbs along with any feathery fennel fronds and, if you have them, the pea shoots, then immediately remove from the heat. Check the seasoning, then ladle into warmed bowls and serve. Serves 6.
Reprinted with permission from River Cottage Veg by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, © 2013. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.
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