Veg out

Sugar cookies, fried oysters, chocolate cheesecake, spicy chili, crispy sweet potato latkes…I love all the foods that fall out of Santa’s pack this time of year. Yes, even eggnog and fruitcake. Deck the halls with lots of excess, I always say.

But even the most dedicated festive feaster needs a palate cleanser at some point. Last night, it was vegetable soup. I chose the recipe because it would be easy to prepare and serve before two other couples and the Hub and I went to a concert. But it also seemed to hit some cleansing, warming spot with me and everyone else. I’m glad, because I worry about expectations. When you’re a professional food writer, some people seem to think that you prepare lobster risotto with truffle oil every night, or some such thing. Sorry to burst your champagne bubble, but we need our vegetable soup, too.

The soup is so easy: About two cups each of chopped carrots and celery, about three cups chopped onions, all cooked in olive oil in the biggest pot you have (it makes a LOT) until they’re soft, not brown. Add about four cups of chicken broth and about four cups of water, or all broth if you want. Then about one and a half russet potatoes, peeled and chopped, and a can of diced tomatoes. Cook it all about 30 minutes, covered, on a low simmer, then add about a cup of shredded cabbage. Taste for salt and pepper. Maybe a dash or two of garlic powder (not salt, powder; read the label for once). That’s it. There are glorious leftovers in my refrigerator now, waiting to be frozen.

And before you think I’ve already gone over to the January dieting – as I write this, I am munching on my second piece of the day of Moravian sugar cake made by my neighbor, The Queen of Pie. I’ve earned it, after chopping all those vegetables. And I didn’t even deep-fry them in bacon grease.

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