Warm up on a chilly day with this hearty vegetable soup


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 celery stalks cut into pieces 1/2″ pieces
4 leeks (white and pale-green parts only cut in half lengthwise and cut into 1″ pieces (may substitute with onion)
3 carrots, cut into cubes
2 garlic cloves (crushed)
Red pepper (2 pinches)
Salt and freshly ground pepper (to taste)
5 1/4 cups of homemade or store-bought chicken stock (may substitute with vegetable stock)
1-1/2 cups water
1 small (1 to 1-1/2 pounds) of butternut squash, peeled and cut into cubes
2 golden potatoes cut into cubes
1 head escarole, cut into 1 inch thick ribbons (my substitute with bok choi)
1 can chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh mint
2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh dill

Variations:  May add noodles or shredded chicken for a hearty meal.

1.  Heat oil in a large Dutch oven or stockpot over medium-high heat. Cook leeks, celery, carrots, garlic, red-pepper flakes, and 1 teaspoon salt, stirring occasionally, until leeks are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add stock and water, and bring to a boil.

2. Add squash and potatoes. Return to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer, partially covered, until vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in escarole and chickpeas, and return to a boil. Stir in lemon juice and herbs. Season with salt and pepper.  Makes approximately 12 servings.




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