Thursday, September 26, 2013

Comforting "Chicken-less" Noodle Soup

Where I work in the entertainment business district of Los Angeles known as "Century City," it is very hard to come by a decent lunch for under $10.00.  And more often the cost is substantially higher than that.  So bringing my lunch to work not only allows me to control the kind of the food I am eating, but my wallet is happier as well.  Often I will prepare several servings of favorite vegan meals in the evening or on the weekend and store them in the refrigerator so they are ready to grab-and-go in the morning when I am super-pressed for time.  What with bathroom jockeying, last minute homework, missing uniform pieces (and other wardrobe malfunctions), preparing various meals (breakfasts, school lunches, and work lunches), and carpool duty all colliding at 7:00 am, I need all the shortcuts I can get!

Delicious and comforting, Chicken-less Noodle Soup, loaded with fresh chunky vegetables, is one of my favorite make-ahead, grab-and-go lunches.  And the substitution of fresh turnips for potatoes in this pretty basic soup recipe not only intensifies the flavor, but it raises the already high nutrition value while lowering the calorie count, making it an excellent VB6 lunch choice.

The ingredients for this simple recipe include 2 leeks, 2 carrots,1 turnip, a few mushrooms, 1 cup of whole wheat noodles (eggless), and about 4 cups of good vegetable broth.  (I really like Manischewitz, which is clear, delicious, Kosher, and MSG free.)  In addition, I season and garnish the soup with fresh lemon, a bit of Italian flat-leaf parsley, and some salt and pepper.

First, I bring about 2 cups of water to a boil and cook the noodles al dente, according to package directions.  I rinse them in cool water and set them aside.  Since the noodles will soften more when added to the soup, it is best not to cook them too much at the outset.

While the noodles are cooking, I wash, trim and slice the leek, including some of the tender greens.  Leek often has bits of mud hidden between the membranes, so it is important to wash it thoroughly, both before and after slicing it.  I also peel and slice the carrots into nice bite-sized chunks.  

Next I peel and slice the turnip into thin wedges (just as you might a potato), and I cut the mushrooms into bite-size chunks.  Because I love vegetables so much, I cut them into rather large chunks that I can bite into and really taste.  Tiny vegetables just get lost.

I start by sautéing the leek and carrots in just a bit of olive oil (about a tablespoon) over medium heat for about 4 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently to make sure the leek does not brown.  

Then I add in the turnip and mushroom slices and saute for a few more minutes.

Next I add the vegetable broth and the cooked noodles to the pot, and stir everything together.  I bring the soup to a boil, and then let it simmer for 10-15 minutes.  It is done cooking when the carrot and turnip slices are "just" tender.

Next, I season the soup with salt, pepper, and a few squeezes of fresh lemon juice, and I let it cool way down.

I prepare my grab-and-go containers by filling them with delicious soup, and garnishing each with some chopped parsley and a thin wedge of lemon.

Comforting, healthy, and yummy, the soup will keep in the refrigerator for several days, ready for the taking!


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