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Creamy Sicilian Vegetable Soup

September 28, 2010

I know, I know.  It’s been a while.  This time of year is always crazy, from holidays to school starting, I’ve just been swamped.  Not to mention the fact that I made a vow to eat through what was in the freezer before cooking more.  Well, SUCCESS!  The freezer has emptied out and I’m back in the kitchen!  I’m hoping to have lots of new postings up as we move into fall and all of its goodness.

In the mean time…

A couple weeks ago, I went to a taping of the Martha Stewart Show.  Seeing TV tapings is one of the benefits of living in NYC.  One of her guests was the fabulous Lidia Bastianich, queen of Italian cooking.  I am all about sharing quality recipes, so here it is, the amazing Raw and Cooked salad that Lidia made on the show!  It’s patchkedik (a fantastic Yiddish word meaning that it takes some work).  It takes a bunch of steps, but the end result is really worth it. The salad is a great way to use up end of summer vegetables and add some color to a meal.  (Since this isn’t really my recipe, the real recipe, and namesake for the post, is below)

from the Martha Stewart recipe

I made the salad over Sukkot, so I couldn’t take pictures of it all nice and fresh (above is the picture from Martha’s website), but here’s my version of the recipe…

2 large vidalia onions
2 orange bell peppers
1 red bell pepper
5 red bliss potatoes
1/2 pound green beans, trimmed
3 tablespoons capers
2 large ripe tomatoes
1 romaine heart cut into large pieces
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
5 tablespoons olive oil + extra for brushing onions
1 tablespoon garlic salt
5 leaves fresh basil, finely chopped

Steps which can be done in advance:

Broil the bell peppers, rotating until all sides are blackened.  Put into a bowl wrapped in plastic wrap and let them cool.  Peel the skins off of the peppers and slice them into one inch strips.

Slice the onions into 3/4 inch slices.  Place on a baking sheet and brush in olive oil.  Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.

Prepare a large bowl of ice water.  Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.  Boil green beans for four minutes then transfer to ice bath, to stop the cooking process, until cooled.

Place potatoes in a pot.  Cover with cool water.  Bring to a boil for 15-20 minutes until soft, but before the peels come off.  Drain and slice into 1 1/2 inch thick wedges.

Right before serving:

Place peppers, onions, potatoes, green beans, tomato wedges, capers and lettuce pieces in bowl.  Dress with olive oil, red wine vinegar, basil, and garlic salt.

Beware though, the recipe makes A LOT…which is why I have this super easy leftovers recipe!

The salad is really tasty with the fresh tomatoes and crispy lettuce, but after two days in the fridge, it lost some of its oomf…so what’s a girl to do with delicious vegetables with tons of good flavor?  Puree them into soup, obviously!

I tossed half the salad (what I had left) into a blender with two cups of water, a few leaves of fresh basil from my windowsill, and some extra salt.  I pureed it until it was smooth.  The smells and flavor of this was out of this world.  The potatoes make it super creamy, the roasted peppers give it a gorgeous orange color, the tomatoes a lovely acidity, and the capers, green beans, and lettuce add yummy green flecks.  I tried the soup chilled as a gazpacho and heated as a soup and both were super delicious!  Both ways I garnished it with basil leaves.  Freshly shaved parmesan would also be a really delicious topping!

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