A childhood favorite: Alphabet soup

This weekend, while on a historical tour around Mennonite country in southern Ontario with our family, I came across dried alphabet noodles at a Mennonite General Store. Up to this point, I have never seen dried pasta in the shape of alphabets before. They lived only in the much-loved cans of Campbell’s alphabet or Heinz’s Alphagetti soups – both of which were considered an occasional treat in our household. Especially the Alphagetti, because of its perceived lower nutritional value.

In any case, I quickly scooped up a bag. For less than $3 for a reasonable-sized bag of homemade nostalgia, I didn’t need to think twice.

First thing I made when we returned to Toronto: my own homemade alphabet (and numbers, since it turned out the bag also contained numbers) vegetable soup. In a word, delicious.

As a tip, if you like adding rice or pasta to your soup, make the soup first and then cook the rice or pasta separately when the soup is ready for serving. Spoon in the pasta or rice into your serving bowls first, and pour in the soup over top. This keeps the pasta or rice from overcooking and falling apart.

Most of you will have a fabulous vegetable soup recipe already. However, in case you’re interested, I’ve included my uber-simple vegetable soup recipe below. You can really use any vegetables you happen to have in your fridge. Corn is fantastic to include for the sweetness it adds to any soup base.

Ingredients:

  • 2 large or 3 medium-sized carrots, chopped
  • 1 corn on cob, husked and “shaved” so kernels are cut off the cob
  • 4 tomatoes, chopped or 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 1/2 head of cauliflower, chopped
  • 1 stalk of celery, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or thinly sliced
  • 2-3 tablespoons of tomato sauce, to taste and consistency
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste
  • 4 cups of water or chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 cup of alphabet pasta

Optional ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon of cornstarch
  • Any other vegetable of your choice, or that happens to be available in your fridge

Peel and chop up your vegetables into small, bite-size pieces. For the corn, hold the corn upright by the stem with the tip on your cutting board. Cut down the cob lengthwise to remove the corn kernels from the cob. Save the cob for your soup.

Put either the water or soup stock into a large pot and bring it to boil. Once the water (or stock) is boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low, and throw in your vegetables along with the corn cob. Simmer for an hour to 90 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Bring a small pot of water to boil alongside your main pot of soup. Throw in your alphabet noodles, once the water is boiling. Reduce the heat to low. When the pasta is ready, drain the water and spoon into serving bowls. Pour the vegetable soup over top and it’s ready to serve!

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