Hearty Vegetable Soup, Killer Stock and Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits!

15 Mar

Dear Bec,

Winter is finally drawing to a close and as spring starts appearing around the edges, it is a good time to reflect on the few perks of winter.  Cuddly kitties warming the bed at night, orion’s belt shining down on your from the sky and delicious baked goods and hearty soups are some of the only things I actually enjoy about winter.  The forecast says it will be in the 50’s by the end of the week here in Minneapolis, so in the meantime, it is time to appreciate the last good days of soup weather!  This recipe is inspired in part by mom’s vegetable soup, partly by my own obsession with parsnips and partly just a good excuse to get rid of the carrots in the back of my fridge.  I hope you enjoy it!

Vegetarian soups can be pretty intimidating.  It is hard to infuse them with enough flavor without a hearty meat to beef them up (pun most likely intended).  However, with a good vegetable stock in hand, vegetarian soups can be as savory and flavorful as any of their carnivorous counterparts. I found this stock recipe on my favorite food blog, http://chubbyvegetarian.blogspot.com I didn’t have a lot of the ingredients or the patience to follow it exactly, so I will give y’all a run down of my pretty significantly modified version of their stock.  It turned out pretty well, though it probably would be better if you actually food-processed all the ingredients like the recipe told me to.  Oh well, maybe next time.



Olive oil
4 carrots (roughly chopped)
4 stocks celery (roughly chopped)
1 large onion (roughly chopped)
1 handful of parsley
1 lemon
1 handful of peppercorns
1 bulb garlic (roughly chopped)
2-3 bay leaves
4 sprigs thyme
2 Tbsp miso
1-2 cups dried mushrooms (I added portobello stems as well, because I had them on hand)
salt to taste

In a large stock pot, add the olive oil and heat.  Once the oil is heated, add the onion and cook until translucent.  Then add celery and carrots.  Cook for a few minutes.  Add all the other veggies and cook for a minute or two.  Then add water to about 2inches short of filling the stock pot.  Half the lemon, squeeze the juice out and then throw the rest into the stock.  Add miso.  Bring stock to a boil and then simmer for twenty minutes.  Strain out all the veggies and then return stock to the stock pot and reduce volume to half.  Add salt to taste (again, I added quite a bit).

Making a ton of stock like this is great because you can freeze portions of it and keep it on hand to add more flavor to any of your favorite chilies, soups and sauces.  I tend to freeze it in 2-3 cup portions to use whenever the mood strikes!

Now onto the soup.

Delicious and Hearty Vegetable Soup

1 red onion (diced)
2 carrots (diced)
2 stocks celery (diced)
A whole lot of garlic (I used a bulb)
2 largish parsnips (diced a bit larger than the carrots)
1 bunch chard (rough chopped with stems- feel free to use any other green instead)
2 Portobello (or any other) mushrooms (chopped kinda small, feel free to use the stems)
1-2 bell peppers of any stripe
1-2 cans tomatoes (I have some stewed tomatoes frozen from the farmers market last year that I used)
1-2 Cups frozen peas (more if you are as crazy about them as I am)
Juice of one lemon
1/2-1 bunch of parsley
2 bay leaves (I am still not convinced these things do anything…)
4 sprigs thyme
2 Tbsp dried oregano
some crushed red pepper if you’d like
fresh ground salt and pepper to taste
Any vegetable you think would taste good in a vegetable soup (frozen corn, potatoes, zucchini, bell peppers, beets…)

In a stock pot, heat some olive oil (2-3 Tbsp or however much pours out of the bottle when you put it upside-down).  Add onions, carrots and celery and cook until onions are translucent.  Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes or so.  Add parsnips and cook until just beginning to become tender.  Then add the mushrooms and cook until oozing their juices.  Add bell pepper for about a minute.  Then add stock, water, bay leaves, thyme sprigs, peas and tomatoes.  You will probably use about twice as much water as stock, though if you want more of a stew, add less water.  Once soup is simmering, add chard and parsley (always add parsley last).  Salt and pepper to taste.  Doesn’t have enough acid?  Add some white or red wine, white wine vinegar or lemon juice.  Stock didn’t do the trick in beefing up the flavor?  Add bouillon cubes (though you shouldn’t have to if you made stock).  Take it from me- it probably needs more salt.  Fuss with soup until it tastes good.

You can serve your soup with any number of things from baguette to crackers to grilled cheese sandwiches.  You could add pasta or rice to it to give it some carbs.  You can add cheddar or mozzarella or parmesan or any other cheese.  You could probably just eat the soup as is.  I chose to eat it with these amazingly flaky and delicious buttermilk biscuits.  This is the recipe used at the restaurant I work at.  We fudge on all the measurements, so if it seems a little bit confusing, I apologize.

Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits


4 C flour
1 heaping Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 C (1 stick) butter
1 1/2 C buttermilk (or until dough is sticky- I think I ended up using closer to two cups)
Optional additions: sharp cheddar, blue cheese, brie cheese, baby spinach, green onions- you name it, you can probably add it (as long as it isn’t too wet).  They are also amazing plain.

Add these ingredients in the order listed.  The dough should be sticky- for breakfast sandwiches, make it a little wetter.  For a flakier biscuit, use less buttermilk.  Scoop out biscuits to whatever size you desire- just make sure they are all roughly equal.  Preheat oven to 375 and bake for 18 minutes, or until done.  (Again, browned if you want browned biscuits, just golden if you want a doughier biscuit- it is up to you.)  The one main trick to making a flaky and delicious biscuit is to grate the butter into the flour mixture with a large cheese grater.  If you don’t have a cheese grater, you can dice the butter, though it will be less effective and more annoying.  Put them in your hot oven and take them out when they look done.  Best served hot.

I usually serve this soup with my favorite salad.  Enjoy!


4 Responses to “Hearty Vegetable Soup, Killer Stock and Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits!”

  1. Zoe March 15, 2011 at 5:23 pm #

    So just the other day I was thinking about how my biscuits are never better than O.K. I’m so excited to use your recipe and give them a whirl!! Yay!

  2. jmwenstrom March 15, 2011 at 6:30 pm #

    I promise- these are more than just ok.

  3. Julia March 16, 2011 at 12:57 pm #

    Again, looks so good. That photo of those biscuits did it for me – I’m trying it.


  1. Summer Solstice with Sally (and Brunhilde) = Savory Satisfaction « The People v. Picket Fence - June 22, 2011

    […] I baked a half batch of Jess’ insane buttermilk biscuits (which really are as easy to make as she says).  Then, we cooked 2 cups of strawberries with 2T brown sugar and 1t pure vanilla extract until […]

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