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Kitchen Closet

We have many different kind of closets and wardrobes in our lives. Our kitchen "closet" is our pantry. It holds the chic (our particular taste treats) and the simple (basics). And our kitchen wardrobes change each season as does our clothes wardrobe. In warm weather we tend to eat more salads and grill food, whereas in cold weather months we look for warm, hearty comfort food.
I just cooked for my monthly book club (we read Paul Auster's Brooklyn Follies & unanimously enjoyed) and made potato skins inspired by my time in Idaho, and a hearty vegetable soup that Mark Bittman claims is the best (yes, his recipe). I've gotten requests for the recipe. Even my daughters make it!

Recipe: The best vegetable soup ever, no kidding!
Mark Bittman, New York Times columnist and author of "The Food Matters Cookbook"

3/4 cup olive oil, more or less
2 onions, peeled and chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery stalks, peeled and chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 bunch parsley, washed and chopped, thick stems discarded
2 or 3 cabbage leaves, chopped
1 bunch chard, preferably white, washed and chopped
1/4 cup tomato paste
3 to 4 cups cooked white beans, like cannelloni, with their liquid if possible (my note: lots of sodium, so rinse and use chicken stock or water)
Put about a third of the olive oil in the bottom of a deep pot and turn the heat to medium.
Add half the onion, carrot and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until they soften, which takes about 10 minutes.
Add about half of the remaining oil and repeat the process, seasoning with salt and pepper as you go.
Add the remaining oil with the parsley, cabbage and chard and cook, stirring occasionally, until everything is softened but not browned.

Add the tomato paste and stir.
Mash the beans so that they're about half mashed and half more-or-less whole. Add this mixture to the pot, along with any bean cooking liquid and enough water to make the whole mixture stewy but not watery.
Continue cooking, tasting and adjusting the seasoning as necessary, until all the vegetables are very tender and the soup is hot. Serve hot or warm.
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