2 medium leeks
2 quarts cold water
2 large carrots
2 medium turnips, peeled and sliced
1 medium onion, sliced
2 large stalks celery, cut into 2-inch pieces
3 large sprigs Italian parsley
2 medium parsnips, peeled and cut up
2 medium sweet potatoes peeled and quartered
2 bay leaves
2 large basil leaves or 1 teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon whole peppercorns
2 green zucchini, trimmed and cut up
½ pound green beans, trimmed and cut up
1 tablespoon salt
Remove roots from leeks and trim off the rough darker leaves. Cut leeks lengthwise in half, and each half again lengthwise. Cut into 3-inch pieces and drop into a large basin with plenty of cold water. Wash thoroughly, spreading the leaves apart to remove the dirt. Place in a large stockpot with 2 quarts of cold water and all the other ingredients. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer, covered, for approximately ½ hour. Strain through a fine strainer.
NOTE 1: The vegetables used to make the broth can be served as a side dish. Season them with 2 tablespoons of wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste.
From: Edda Servi Machlin, The Classic Cuisine of the Italian Jews, Croton on Hudson, Giro Press, 1982.
Note 2: Having now essayed the Miso Soup/Hollow Man Diet (100% miso soup all the time) for a week or so, prefatory to a self-imposed stay-on-it-until-the-diet-is-finished régime, I think I will occasionally substitute this broth for sustenance. As much as I like miso soup, and as many subtle ways as it can be varied, it does become boring.
Edda Servi Machlin’s book is wonderful and a classic itself. Taking it down from my bookshelf this cold, gray morning, I noticed that my mother had the volume inscribed by the author, a nice discovery. Although many of the dishes Ms. Machlin writes about are more obviously enticing than this spartan soup, this is a richly appealing, harmonious, subtle and "complete" recipe. To imbibe the brodo together with its dressed vegetable parents, as Ms. Machlin recommends, at a solitary table sounds to me like a launching pad for enlightenment.
However, for readers unable to muster my (or any) level of excitement in the plain company of a brodo vegetale recipe, I have also provided Edward Burne-Jones' drawing below for delectation. A sketch of Aglaia Coronio (link), model for the right-hand figure in Burne-Jones’ 1882 painting The Mill in the Victoria & Albert Museum, who died under tragic circumstances in 1906, Ms. Coronio was in the news this week as the original owner of Burne –Jones' astonishing full-scale 1871 sketch series for Days of Creation (link), which Bonham’s London will be auctioning on January 23d.