My Mother's Garden Vegetable Soup


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Wolfgang PuckBecause the vegetables probably won’t come straight from your garden, you have my permission to use good quality chicken, beef, or vegetable broth instead of water, to give your soup the fullest flavor possible. Whatever liquid you add, include some salt with it, so the seasoning has time to penetrate the vegetables while they simmer. Finally, I’ve included my own finishing touch to the recipe, which I learned while cooking in Provence. I like to pass a bowlful of pistou, a puree of tomatoes, basil, and garlic, encouraging everyone to stir a dollop into their bowls just before eating. Its powerful aroma is the perfect fanfare for this wonderful harvest soup. Click here for Wolfgang Puck's full introduction.

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  • 2 small leeks, white parts only, split lengthwise, thoroughly washed with cold running water, patted dry, and diced
  • 1 small onion, peeled and diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled
  • 1 large potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 medium zucchini, trimmed and diced
  • 12 green beans, trimmed and diced
  • 6 Tbs. olive oil
  • 3 Tbs. water
  • 2 quarts good quality canned or home made chicken broth, beef broth, or vegetable broth
  • Salt
  • 6 ripe tomatoes, peeled and seeded
  • 30 fresh basil leaves, washed and dried
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, peeled
  • Freshly ground black pepper

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Cut the leeks, onion, celery, carrots, potato, zucchini, and green beans into 1/4-inch dice.

In a 6-quart stockpot, combine 3 Tbs. of the olive oil with the 3 Tbs. of water. Add the diced leeks and onion and sauté over medium-low heat until all the water evaporates and the vegetables are tender but not yet beginning to brown, about 5 minutes.

Add the celery, potato, carrots, zucchini, and broth, and season to taste with salt. Raise the heat to high and bring the broth to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a gentle boil and cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil and fill a bowl nearby with ice cubes and water. With a small, sharp knife, cut out the cores of the tomatoes and score a shallow X in the skin on the opposite side. With a slotted spoon, lower the tomatoes into the boiling water and boil until the skin begins to wrinkle, 20 to 30 seconds. Remove the tomatoes with the slotted spoon to the ice water. When the tomatoes are cool enough to handle, peel off their skins, using the knife to help if necessary. Halve the tomatoes and squeeze out their seeds. Coarsely chop the tomatoes.

In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, put the tomatoes, basil, garlic, and remaining 3 Tbs. olive oil. Pulse the machine until the vegetables are pureed to make a pistou. Transfer to a sauceboat or bowl and set aside.

About 5 minutes before the soup is done, stir the diced green beans into the pot and continue cooking until all the vegetables are tender.

Season the cooked soup to taste with more salt and black pepper to taste. Stir the pistou into the cooked soup or pass the pistou separately for each person to add to taste. Ladle the soup into a tureen or individual bowls and serve.

Yield: 6 servings

(Chef Wolfgang Puck’s TV series, “Wolfgang Puck’s Cooking Class,” airs Sundays on the Food Network. Also, his latest cookbook, “Wolfgang Puck Makes It Easy,” is now available in bookstores. Write Wolfgang Puck in care of Tribune Media Services Inc., 2225 Kenmore Ave., Suite 114, Buffalo, N.Y. 14207.)


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