Spring in the Midwest is a very changeable season that keeps us just a little bit off-balance until the steady warmth of summer helps us forget the cold of winter. Yesterday was a gorgeous day in Chicago that begged to be spent outdoors. Mark and I hopped on our bikes and headed downtown on the lakeshore path to stop by the last indoor week of the Green City Market at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum.
When we arrived, the farmers were all packing up their wares, but we were able to score some dairy from Blue Marble, mushrooms from River Valley Ranch and a quart of slightly banged up apples that will be perfect in oatmeal this week. After we hit the market, we wandered through the nature museum. We spent the most time in the Butterfly Haven – a lush greenhouse full of flowering plants and butterflies flitting around and alight on every surface. How can you not be happy surrounded by hundreds of beautiful and delicate creatures?! An owl butterfly even landed on my helmet, and Mark was able to snap the pic below.
Today, the other side of spring is showing her face, and we’ve got gray skies and rain. I know the rain is needed for all the spring flowers and summer crops, but it really would have been nice to have a full weekend of sunshine. So, here at the edge of Spring, it’s time for another pot of wintery soup. I had a beef soup bone in the freezer from the farm share, and one last quart of stewed tomatoes I’d been hoarding, as well as a little bit of wild rice from Minnesota. There’s nothing fancy about this soup, but it’s hearty and I hope will be a fond farewell to the flavors and feeling of winter.
Beef Vegetable Soup
5 Weight Watchers Points per serving
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 stalks celery, diced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 T olive oil
4 cups chicken stock
2 cups water
1 quart stewed tomatoes
1 T dried rosemary
1 T dried basil
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 cups cooked wild rice
1 beef soup bone, about 1 1/2lb
1 chunk of parmesan cheese rind, optional
- Heat a 8 quart soup pot over medium heat. Add oil, carrots, onions and celery and saute for about 10 minutes, until the carrots just begin to soften. Add the garlic, rosemary, black pepper and basil and stir for one minute.
- Add the chicken stock, stewed tomatoes water, bay leaves, beef bone, red bell pepper and parmesan cheese rind, if using. Stir. Cover, and bring soup to a boil, then reduce heat to low, and simmer uncovered for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally, and spooning off any fat that gathers at the edge of the pot.
- Remove beef bone. bay leaves and parmesan rind from pot. Toss the rind and bay leaves. Set the beef aside to cool for a few minutes, then remove the meat from the bone and shred, discarding any fat.
- Add the beef back to the pot, and stir in the wild rice. Ladle into bowls and grate fresh parmesan over each bowl and serve.