I am sitting here, in fabulous San Francisco, attending BlogHerFood’10(writing this with total and utter glee) and I couldn’t leave my home without cleaning out my vegetable drawer.  My veggies simply needed some love.  And had I not loved my veggies, there would have been lots and lots of waste.  I would not have been able to leave in good consciousness had I wasted all those veggies.  So, I put my carrots, leeks, celery, kale, chard, radishes, fennel and parsnips to good use.  Here is what transpired once I cleaned out the drawer:

Roasted Carrot Soup
Vegetable Stock
Fettuccine with Kale and Sausages
A very, very simple Apple Tart
Israeli salad (cucumbers, Roma tomatoes, red onion, radishes, lemon)
While I roasted my veggies for the soup, I started a big batch of vegetable stock.  The beauty of making your own stocks is that you can use up veggies that are on the verge of being thrown out, plus, stocks freeze really, really well!  I use both vegetable stock and chicken stock in almost all of my savory dishes and there is really nothing better than homemade stocks!

Roasted Carrot Soup

2 lbs. carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2″ chunks
2 Spanish onions, rough chopped
3 leeks, white part only, cleaned and chopped (reserve green parts for stock)
3 garlic cloves, rough chopped
2 Tbls. olive oil
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
7 cups vegetable stock (preferably homemade)
fresh chives

• preheat oven to 375*.  lightly spray a large jelly roll pan with cooking spray.
• combine the carrots, leeks*, onions, garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper, and cumin on the tray.  toss lightly with your hands.  spread evenly, try not to overlap veggies.
• roast in preheated oven for 40-55 minutes or until veggies are tender, but not burnt.
•in the meantime, warm your vegetable stock and chop your chives.
• in a blender, blend equal amount veggies and stock until completely pureed.  you will have to do this in several batches.
• warm pureed soup over a low flame.  you may need to add more stock or water to get the consistency you prefer.  check seasonings.
• if you so desire, add some heavy cream (I didn’t and it was still delicious)
• serve in individual bowls and sprinkle with chives and a drizzle of good olive oil.

* to clean leeks, cut the white parts in half and soak in warm water for 10 minutes.  you will see sand grains at the bottom of your water.  rinse and repeat.  while you are doing the whites, do the green parts as well as you will be using them in your vegetable stock.

The Best Vegetable Stock

1 lb leeks, white and green parts
1 lb. carrots, cleaned and chopped
1 1/2 yellow onion chopped
1 fennel bulb, chopped
3 parsnips, chopped
the leaves and ends of a bunch of celery
handful of parsley
2 bay leaves
3 garlic cloves, unpeeled
10 black peppercorns
8 quarts of water

• heat a little sunflower oil in a large stock pot ( I use a huge le creuset).  saute leeks (white part only), carrots, fennel, parsnip, onion, and celery leaves/ends.  saute for 10 minutes until just starting to soften.  add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil.
• once boiled, turn fire down to simmer and slightly cover.  simmer for 1 1/2 hours.  turn off fire, remove lid and let cool for 30 minutes.
• remove veggies, discard.  strain stock into another stock pot.  let cool completely.
• once cooled, store in quart sized, freezer friendly containers(I get mine at surfas.  will post photos later).
• label the containers with date and description.  can be frozen for up to 2 months.