Submitted by Abigail Clement, who is new to Boston and picks up Edible Boston at different locations around town. This is a soup my mother used to make, adapted from a recipe from the cookbook Motherhood and Apple Pie—Recipes from Upstate New York: hand picked by the Junior League of Rochester. I grew up in Northern Virginia, and this was a favorite in the late fall. I remember it being on the stove after getting home from late-night soccer games, when I really needed some warming up! My mom never follows recipes, and when she makes it, she skips the cheese to make it vegan. I sometimes do the same, but usually sprinkle the cheese on top of each serving. This is the definition of comfort food for me!
Serves 6-8 hungry people.
INGREDIENTS 8 cups water 1 tablespoon salt 2 cups potatoes, peeled and diced 2 cups onions, peeled and diced 2 cups carrots, peeled and diced 2 cups green beans, cut into 1-inch lengths (or 1 package frozen green beans) 1 10-ounce package frozen peas 2 cups cooked white beans (or 1 can navy beans, drained and rinsed) ½ cup spaghetti, broken into pieces 1 slice stale white bread Freshly ground black pepper Pinch of saffron 3 cloves garlic, mashed 2 tablespoons tomato paste 1½ tablespoons basil ½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese ½ cup olive oil
DIRECTIONS Bring water to a boil in a large soup pot and add the salt. Add the potatoes, onions, and carrots to the water, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook for 45 minutes.
Add the green beans, peas, white beans, and broken spaghetti. Crumble in the stale bread, season with black pepper to taste, and add the saffron. Bring back to a simmer and cook another 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a soup serving bowl or tureen, stir together the garlic, tomato paste, basil, and Parmigiano Reggiano. Beat in the olive oil, one drop at a time, to make a loose paste.
With a whisk, blend 1 cup of the hot soup broth into the paste, then return the mixture to the soup pot. Stir to blend thoroughly, check for seasoning, and serve with crusty bread.