There truly are no limits to the ingredients we can lovingly slip into the soup pot! The secret to “Delicioso” (a la “sensuous”) cooking however, is literally a sense of good taste, imagination, a discerning tongue, an eye for artistic beauty and a spirit of adventure..enough of one to confidently break away from a printed recipe and eliminate, add or substitute ingredients that are your own favorites.
This recipe…the “bones” of it,that is… is adapted from one I found and saved from a September 1994 Cooking Light magazine. I eliminated, added and substituted ingredients from the first trial out of convenience, and also because I preferred, for instance, cannelini beans or chick peas to the original lima beans. Also, I will add extra ingredients as the kitchen muse inspires me…Soups and stews always taste better on the 2nd-4th days anyway!
This soup has become a family (and guests’) favorite..I hope it will be a favorite of yours as well!
1/2 can of 15.5 oz cannelini beans, drained (or bean of your choice), 2 cups of chopped onion and leek (I mix the two), 3 cloves garlic chopped, 2 carrots, diced, 2 cups diced zucchini or fresh green beans chopped in 3rds, 1 rib of celery, diced, 2-3 small cocktail tomatoes, seeded and quartered, 1 48-oz can low-sodium chicken broth plus one or two regular sized cans of chicken broth as desired, 1 bottle of clam juice (optional), 1 (or 2) 10 oz cans chopped clams undrained, 1 small wedge of lemon to squeeze. 5-6 large cleaned shrimp, or 3 large scallops halved or 1 sleeve calamari, cut in rings..(all optional) Seasonings: dried parsely, dried marjoram, dried basil, cayenne powder, 1-teasp fennel seed crushed.
***NOTE: I never cook pasta IN the soup as it swells and takes over. I prefer to cook it ahead and line the soup bowl with desired amount and ladle to soup over the pasta..this way, the pasta retains its soft but firmer texture without becoming fat and gluey, soaking up too much of the broth.
Gently saute onion and/or leeks and garlic in 1-2 tablesp olive oil until soft and just slightly golden, (do NOT burn), add chopped carrots, celery..saute lightly..add green beans or zucchini..saute very lightly. Add large can chicken broth, add chopped canned clams undrained, add a bottle of clam juice if desired, add more broth. Bring to a boil, quickly turn down to a simmer, ad a pinch of dried parsley, dried basil, dried sweet marjoram. A judicious squeeze of lemon (careful, taste). Add 1-2 teasp of crushed fennel seed (or a little more..you should be able to smell its delicate scent)). Simmer gently for about 10 minutes. Add the rinsed cannellini beans, chopped tomato. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add the shrimp, or scallops, or calamari rings. Simmer until they are just clear. Adjust seasonings by TASTING, tasting, tasting along the way.
In the serving bowls, add a little pasta first. Ladle soup over pasta, so there is of course more soup than pasta. Sprinkle with a little cayenne powder if desired, and finally sprinkle a little freshly grated parmesan cheese as a garnish. A crusty artisan bread is perfect. A crusty artisan OLIVE bread is even more perfect. A light red wine or beer…your choice.
Happy Valentine’s Day, btw from Christine, the Greening Spirit
(Sensuous Cooking is an expression of Love….)
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