So it's the middle of the Lenten season and Hubbo (who is not Greek but incredibly supportive) and I are fasting until Easter (Holy Pascha, April 8th.) The traditional Greek Orthodox Lenten calendar calls for most days to be strict fasts which entails not consuming any sort of animal byproduct (this includes dairy and eggs) and no wine and no oil (okay, I can't do the oil part, I just can't....it's my only concession however.) Now you may be saying to yourself, wait, I know a person of Greek decent and they don't do this whole vegan-esque thing do they? No most of the ones I know (aka the majority of my family) don't either. Or they just don't eat meat. It's pretty tough (and I think being in America tends to make it a bit tougher, impulse wise and more processed foods, less fresh markets, etc.) Nevertheless, I do think I feel really good after, both in body and mind (I think a little suffering is good for the soul) and therefore I think it's worth it.
This Lent my favorite meal has been Roasted Vegetable Soup!
For a while now I've been suplimenting my vegetable soups with chicken stock because I just couldn't get the flavor I required from the veggies alone. So I decided to reference making a vegetable stock and consulted the book How To Cook Everything by Mark Bittman (Hubs is a bit obsessed with cook books, so we have an ample supply.) The recipe for stock suggested roasting very roughly cut veggies before boiling them with water to create a more flavorful stock. (This was the point where I slapped my forehead, why couldn't I think of that.)
So instead of making a stock, I figured, I'd just chop my veggies finer, roast them and keep them in the soup. I used pretty much what I had on hand, but feel free to improvize.
onions (about 2 or so)
leeks (both the white and tender green parts)
zucchini and/or summer squash
1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
a good salt (I use Kosher salt because I am too cheep to buy sea salt)
FGP (fresh ground pepper)
Slice onions to medium-thinness (1/2 centimeter or so)
in a large flame proof casserole (I used the Le Creuset large oval Dutch Oven -- I think they call it a French Oven haha!) heat a couple of tbsp. of olive oil and caramelize the onions until they are nice and brown. (approx time 30 min. (I did this because during the roasting there is a lot of moisture that comes out of the other veggies that would prevent the onions from becoming as caramelized as I like them.)
While the onions are caramelizing, chop the other veggies to the desired size. After the onions have finished caramelizing toss in the other veggies (minus anything like greenbeans, the canned tomato, and the squashes) coat with oil (add a little more if needed) and roast in the oven (400 degrees) for about an hour turning periodically to make sure all get nice and browned.
Once veggies are nicely roasted, return to stove top and cover them with water (typically 2 quarts or so) and add the can of tomatoes. To this season with bay leaves (notice I said leaves, this means more than 1, I usually add 3 or 4,) salt, pepper, oregano, thyme (I love thyme...I go a bit overboard with it) and cayenne for heat! Simmer to allow flavors to meld.....and your done!
I think that the soup is better the second day, but it is enjoyable right out of the pot.