By Freya Bellin
Ripe, fresh tomatoes are elusive this time of year, but good quality canned tomatoes do the trick in this hearty winter-time soup. They can be just as sweet as the ones you find in the middle of August, and you get to skip over the washing and chopping step. Plus, they break down a little faster than the fresh kind.
I used half stock and half water for the liquid, but the broth was still quite flavorful from the onions, celery, and garlic cooked at the beginning. I especially liked the celery, which was subtle, but noticeable and appreciated. With the addition of bulgur the soup becomes heartier and more of a standalone meal. As mentioned below, the starch lends a surprising creaminess, making this soup seem much richer than it is. Unlike most soups, I found that I really preferred this one on day 1, so try to serve it all at once if possible. It shouldn’t be too hard to find willing eaters. Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.
Makes: 4 servings
Time: 30 minutes
There’s no faster, surer way to enrich soup than by stirring in a handful of grains; they absorb the surrounding flavors and release starch to make the broth thick and creamy. Bulgur is ideal because it cooks in a flash, but you can use whatever you’ve got, including already cooked grains (leftovers are perfect) or ground grains like cornmeal. Depending on which you choose, the cooking time may decrease or increase from a little to (rarely) a lot, and you might need to add more liquid.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, halved and sliced
1 large celery stalk, chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
Salt and black pepper
1⁄2 cup white wine
3 cups chopped tomatoes (canned are fine; include their juice)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried
5 to 6 cups vegetable stock or water, or more as needed
3⁄4 cup bulgur
1⁄4 cup chopped fresh parsley, for garnish, optional
1⁄2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, for garnish, optional
1. Put the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. When it’s hot, add the onion, celery, and garlic. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until the onion begins to soften and turn golden, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the white wine and cook, stirring to loosen the bits of vegetable that have stuck to the bottom of the pan, for about 1 minute.
2. Add the tomatoes and thyme and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes break up, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the stock and bulgur, bring to a boil, and reduce the heat so the mixture gently bubbles. Cover and cook, stirring once or twice, until the bulgur is tender, about 10 minutes. If the mixture is too thick, add a little more stock or water. (You can make the soup up to this point and refrigerate for several days or freeze for months. Gently reheat before proceeding.) Taste and adjust the seasoning. Garnish with the parsley and Parmesan if you’re using them, and serve.
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