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Spring Vegetable Soup Featuring Five Veggies

Combine some of the best spring vegetables -- zucchini, fennel, asparagus, and others -- in a light and bright broth-based soup. We've got the secrets!

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-After a long winter enjoying hearty chilli or stew recipes, this spring vegetable soup is a welcome change. The soup is quick to make. The secret is to do all the chopping and mincing before you start cooking. Just place each ingredient in a separate bowl as you go along. Let's get started. First, chop 1 large onion. You'll need 1 cup. Then chop enough fennel to make half a cup. Mince 3 cloves of garlic. Trim 1-1/2 pounds of fresh asparagus spears then cut them into 1-inch pieces. You should have about 4 cups. Next, cut 2 medium zucchini in half lengthwise the cut them into quarter-inch slices. You'll need 2-1/2 cups. And now, chop 3 Roma tomatoes or enough to make 1 cup. Finely chop 2 tablespoons of fresh basil. All of the ingredients are ready. It's time to cook. Over medium high heat, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a 4-quart Dutch oven. Once the oil is hot, add the onion, the fennel, and the garlic. Cook and stir until the onions begin to brown or caramelize. This will take 8 to 10 minutes. Browning the vegetables so they begin to caramelize makes the broth sweeter and richer tasting so you get a satisfying soup. Stir in three 14-1/2 ounce cans of vegetable broth or chicken broth and bring the soup to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low, cover the Dutch oven, and simmer the soup for 5 minutes. Next, stir in the asparagus, the zucchini, and the tomatoes. Return the soup to a boil then reduce the heat to medium low again and replace the cover. Simmer the soup until the zucchini is just tender. This will take about 5 minutes. Season the soup with a half teaspoon of salt, a quarter teaspoon of black pepper, and the chopped basil. For a flavorful finishing touch, sprinkle each bowl of spring vegetable soup with a little grated parmesan cheese and fresh basil on top. Pretty as a picture.