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Salad Bar Soup

The name of this soup strikes me as particularly hokey. However, salad bar soup is precisely what this is. I was in Whole Foods on a strategic apple research sortie, which I had to squeeze in before the all out fun and chaos of helping lead a 36 girl Brownie troop through a “meeting.” I had about 5 extra minutes to figure out a dinner plan that I would have no more than 30 minutes to prepare later that night, AND everything had to sit in my car for several hours…which was fine because it was about 40 degrees outside.

Whole Foods has an amazing salad bar and an area in the produce section with prepared vegetables, and by that I mean they are raw, but already chopped and sliced.

So I grabbed a container and threw in a handful of julienned carrots, asparagus spears, sliced mushrooms, and a bunch of green onions. On the way to the salad bar area I grabbed several cans of chicken broth, a container of refrigerated cheese tortellini, a wedge of parmesan-reggiano cheese, and a loaf of crusty bread. At the salad bar, I obtained a big handful of fresh baby spinach and green peas.

If you don’t have this sort of salad bar at hand, you can surely use frozen versions of these items, but you will need to adjust your cooking times accordingly.

Upon returning home, with my rear absolutely and positively kicked by the very bouncy and excellent troop…each girl of which I love dearly, I threw it all in a pot and cooked it for perhaps ten minutes total. It is fresh and simple. It is hot and hearty. It is beyond easy. Try it one night when you aren’t in the mood for a production but you still are craving fresh and healthful food.

Preparation:

4 cans of low sodium chicken broth (or 3 plus 1 can of water)
1 package of cheese tortellini from the refrigerator case
Parmesan-reggiano cheese
Assorted vegetables (asparagus, carrots, green onions, peas, spinach, mushrooms, etc)
½ teaspoon dried basil
Salt and Pepper

Bring the broth and water (if using) to a simmer. You can add the rind of the cheese to the broth for a little added flavor. Add the tortellini, carrots and mushrooms and any vegetables that need a longer cooking time. Simmer for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the asparagus, and any remaining vegetables that need a shorter time to cook. Also add the dried basil. Simmer for an additional 2 minutes. Remove the soup pot from the heat and add in the spinach, green onions, and peas. The peas will warm and the spinach will wilt with the residual heat, and need not actually cook. Season (liberally) to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve with warm bread and shredded parmesan cheese.

There is truly no end to the number and variety of vegetables you can add to this simple soup. I’d love to hear what you add if you try it.

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