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September 25, 2011

Vegetable Soup – Homemade

by Anne Paddock

Soup is one of those great comfort foods that tastes especially delicious on an Autumn or Winter day and vegetable soup is surprisingly simple to make.  The only time-consuming part is the cutting of the vegetables which can be chopped ahead of time and stored in a bowl of water in the refrigerator until ready to use. Years ago, I started making my own soups and continue to make variations several times a month. Virtually any vegetable can be used: carrots, celery, onions, corn, potatoes, zucchini, squash, leeks, cauliflower, green beans and more.

11401_th_IMG_3086Add a can of cannellini or red kidney beans and/or a few cups of cooked pasta (Sclafani “Little Hats 300” is my favorite pasta for soups – the pasta looks like thick hats or saucers and doesn’t get lost in the vegetables) to the soup pot and a great meal awaits.

Try to make all the vegetables the same size for ease in eating and use different colored vegetables to make the soup visually appealing. I vary my soup every time I make it based on the vegetables that are in the refrigerator and pantry but always include onions.  If small potatoes (yukon golds are delicious) are used, pre-cook and quarter the potatoes before adding to the soup.

2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3-4 large carrots, chopped
3-4 celery stalks, chopped
1 medium zucchini, chopped
1 small head of cauliflower, cut into small florets
8 ounces of green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces.
1 26 ounce box of Pomi chopped tomatoes*
1 3-inch Parmesan cheese rind**
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
4 bay leaves
1 can cannellini or red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
8 ounces of a small pasta, cooked
3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 cup of pesto
5-6 cups of reduced sodium vegetable broth
5-6 cups of water

1 cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese

  • Pour the olive oil into a large soup stock pot and heat to medium.
  • Add the onion, carrots, and celery and cook until tender, about 10 minutes (don’t brown the vegetables).
  • Add the zucchini, cauliflower , and green beans and cook gently for 10 minutes.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes, parmesan rind, thyme, bay leaves, and salt;  stir to blend.
  • Add enough water and chicken broth to fill the stock pot to 2 inches from the top.
  • Bring the soup to a soft boil and then reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Remove the soup from heat.
  • Discard the parmesan rind and bay leaves.
  • Add the fresh parsley and pesto, stirring to blend.
  • Add the cannellini or red kidney beans, if desired and pasta. Stir to blend.
  • Ladle the soup into serving bowls and top with grated parmesan cheese.

*Pomi tomatoes can be found in most grocery stores.  Packaged in a square box in the canned vegetable aisle, Pomi tomatoes have one ingredient:  tomatoes.

**I have fresh parmesan chunks on hand always for grating. When the cheese is gone and the rind is left, I put the rinds in a plastic bag and place in the freezer until needed for soups. The rind provides flavor to the soup.

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