Like most folks, I’ve resolved to eat more vegetables in the new year. Here’s an inexpensive and appetizing idea that’s been making my goal much easier. Each weekend, make one big pot of Very Versatile Vegetable Soup to enjoy for lunch the entire week.
This soup is delicious, but to avoid the “soup again?” syndrome, simple additions to the basic vegetable soup totally change up the flavours so we don’t get bored. Some variation ideas follow the recipe.
What makes this recipe unique is that the veggies are sautéed for a little caramelization, maximizing their natural sweetness. This adds tremendous depth of umami flavor you don’t usually find in vegetable soup.
Of course, you can add any veggies you like to this soup, but I concentrated on lower-carb veggies. However, strong tasting vegetables like broccoli or asparagus tend to overpower the other flavors.
This delectable recipe can be made on the stovetop or a crock pot, makes about 10 servings, is easily doubled and freezes beautifully in single or family-size portions.
VERSATILE VEGETABLE SOUP
Yield: 10 servings Time: 1 hour (stovetop)
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 large onion, chopped
4 large carrots, chopped
4 celery stalks, chopped
4 to 6 cloves garlic, minced (more if you love garlic!)
1 medium head green cabbage, chopped
1 (28 ounce) can Italian-style diced tomatoes, undrained
2 cups green beans, fresh or frozen, chopped
2 small russet potatoes (optional) peeled and chopped
8 cups (five 14.5 ounce cans) low-sodium chicken, beef or vegetable broth
One big pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
1. The secret to this soup is the saute. Put 1 tablespoon oil in a large soup pot on medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until nearly translucent. Add carrot and saute for 3 minutes. Add celery and continue to cook for another 3 minutes, adding more oil as needed. (Remember that you’re not cooking the veggies, just sautéing for the scrumptious flavor it imparts. If you get a little golden color, that’s fantastic!)
2. Add the garlic and mix it together for 1 minute. Add cabbage and stir. I add a little salt and pepper now. Cook until the cabbage begins to wilt. Add the tomatoes, green beans, potatoes, if using, broth and pepper flakes, and mix it all together.
3. If you’re putting this in a crock pot to finish; dump it in now, set to LOW for 6 to 8 hours. To finish on the stovetop; let it come to a boil then turn heat to low. Let it gently simmer away until the veggies are tender, and the soup smells divine, roughly 30 minutes.
4. Add salt and pepper to taste at the end because as the soup reduces, it concentrates the flavors, including salt. You can replace half the broth with water to reduce the sodium.
Change the flavour by adding these ingredients to the hot soup by the bowl.
Mock Minestrone — White beans, big handful of spinach, cooked ditalini or small shell pasta, and Parmesan cheese.
Cabbage Roll — Cooked hamburger, rice and a splash of Worcestershire. Finish with a dollop of sour cream.
Southwest — Add shredded cooked chicken, black beans, corn and a dash of cumin and chili powder. Top with shredded cheese.
Greek Lemon Chicken — Cooked shredded chicken, orzo or rice, dried or fresh oregano and a big squeeze of lemon.
I’m for anything that makes it easy and affordable to reach our nutritional goals.
Lifestyle expert Patti Diamond is the penny-pinching, party-planning, recipe developer and content creator of the website “Divas On A Dime — Where Frugal, Meets Fabulous!” Visit Patti at http://www.divasonadime.com and join the conversation on Facebook at DivasOnADimeDotCom. E-mail Patti at firstname.lastname@example.org