Clean Out The Fridge and Cook It To Death Soup

SERVES: 6

This soup is a solution to the age-old problem of a random assortment of old, wilting, sad-ass vegetables. The point of this soup is to cook the vegetables to death, to coax out as much flavor as possible, which means, it doesn't matter if your celery is already limp and floppy, it's headed that direction anyway. As long as it isn't rotten, it's fair game. Choose any mix of the suggested vegetables below, and play around with the combinations depending on what you have. The great thing is, you'll never make the exact same soup twice.

Active Time: 1 hr

Total Time: 2+ hrs

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Produce

  • 20 ounces onions or alliums (red onion, white onion, vidalia, shallots, scallions)
  • 2 ½ pounds any hearty root vegetables (carrots, parsnips, turnips, fennel, celery, rutabaga)
  • 10 garlic cloves
  • 1 ½ pounds any hearty greens (collards, spinach, broccolini, broccoli rabe, cabbage, swiss chard)
  • ½ cup pesto (store bought, or homemade)

Pantry

  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped calabrian chilies OR 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 (14-ounce) cans any kind of bean or legume (cannellini, chickpea, butter bean, black eyed pea, etc)
  • 5 cups water, vegetable stock, or chicken stock
  • Crusty bread for serving (optional)

Dairy

  • Grated Parmigiano Reggiano, for finishing
  • 1-2 parm rinds (optional, if you have 'em)

1. Do Some prep:

  • Chop the 1 ¼ pounds (20 oz) alliums you have chosen (a mix is great!).
  • Peel any root veg that needs peeling (parsnips, rutabaga, thick-skinned turnips) and chop all root vegs into ½" dice.
  • Firmly smash and peel 10 garlic cloves. Discard the skins, and keep them in the smashed state.

2. Start Sweating:

  • Heat ½ cup olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the alliums, garlic, and root vegetables all at once. Throw in a few big pinches of salt and some freshly ground black pepper, stir well and cook until the onions juuuust start to stick to the pot, 7-10 minutes. At this point, reduce the heat to medium and keep cooking, stirring occasionally until all the vegs are nice and softened and sweet (taste it!) but not caramelized or brown, 5-7 minutes longer.
  • Meanwhile, coarsely chop 1 ½ pounds hearty greens (if using spinach, no need).

3. Add the chilis, greens, and beans:

  • Once the vegetables are softened, scoot them to the side of the pot to make a little empty space. Add 2 tablespoons chopped oil packed Calabrian chilies (or 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes), and 1 tablespoon double concentrated tomato paste. Stir into the oil at the bottom of the pot and cook 2 minutes until it begins to thicken and darken. Then stir in the vegetables to coat in the tomato paste.
  • Drain (no need to rinse) 2 cans of any type of bean or legume, add them to the pot along with 5 cups chicken stock or water, a couple of parm rinds (if you happen to have them), and all of the chopped greens. If you can't fit them all, you'll add them in two additions, covering between to help wilt them and make more space. Add another few big pinches of salt (you'll need quite a bit to season all this stuff), and another nice glug of olive oil and stir well.
  • Cover the pot and cook over medium for 15 minutes, to wilt the greens. After 15 minutes, uncover, adjust the heat as needed to maintain a gentle simmer. Add another big splash of fresh olive oil and keep cooking, at least 30 and up to 90 minutes longer. The idea here is to really coax out as much flavor as possible from all the vegetables, so if they seem overcooked, that's kinda the point. This is comfort food at its finest. Add a bitmore water or stock along the way if needed to keep it thick but loose enough to be soup-like. Taste for seasoning.

4. Serve:

  • Preheat your broiler and oil up some big slices or hunks of crusty bread, if you're making them. Broil, flipping and turning the bread often until charred in spots.
  • Just before serving, grate some parm into the pot and stir well. Divide the soup among serving bowls. Drizzle some pesto over each bowl, and grate more parm over each as well. Finish with more olive oil! This soup freezes well so if you're not gonna eat all those leftovers, freeze em for a later date!