You'll use this easy technique whenever you're in the mood for a comforting bowl of soup this winter.

By Sarah Carey
Updated October 28, 2020
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If there's food more suited for cold weather than a steaming pot of vegetable soup, we have yet to find it. But too many of the versions out there are bland and uninspiring, with limp, insipid vegetables. That's why we came up with this handy choose-your-own-adventure formula. No matter what type of vegetables you use, it yields a big batch of soup that's full of flavor and texture. It's the kind of nourishing meal that the whole family will be happy to eat all season long, especially if served alongside a couple of crostini. Follow our general guidelines below, and remember, don't stress—soup is as forgiving as it is versatile.

homemade vegetable soup with toasted bread on cutting board
Credit: Marcus Nilsson

Always Start by Sautéing Aromatics

In a large pot, heat 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil over medium-high. Add 1 cup chopped onion or other alliums (leeks, shallots, scallions), 1 tablespoon minced garlic, 3/4 cup diced carrot, and 1/2 cup diced celery. Season with salt and cook, stirring, until onion is translucent, about three minutes.

tomato paste parmesan cheese and fresh herbs for soup
Credit: Marcus Nilsson

Deepen the Base

Stir in 1 teaspoon dried oregano or thyme (or two to three sprigs fresh) and/or 1 tablespoon tomato paste or a Parmesan rind for flavor.

starches squash turnips potato for soup
Credit: Marcus Nilsson

Give It Some Heft

Add 2 cups peeled and diced hard, starchy vegetables, like potatoes, parsnips, turnips, or squashes.

measuring cups of chicken vegetable broth and water
Credit: Marcus Nilsson

Pick a Liquid

Pour in 8 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth, or water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for five minutes.

fresh green beans broccoli and sliced zucchini for soup
Credit: Marcus Nilsson

Go Green

Put in 1 to 2 cups quick-cooking vegetables cut into bite-size pieces, like green beans, broccoli, zucchini, peas, and/or corn (unless using frozen; in that case, add in step six). Return to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook five minutes more.

rice peas chickpeas and leafy greens for soup
Credit: Marcus Nilsson

Add Texture

Stir in 1 cup cooked rice, pasta, or canned chickpeas or other beans or legumes, plus 1 to 2 cups chopped leafy greens, such as spinach, arugula, kale, or Swiss chard. Heat through.

olive oil shredded parmesan fresh herbs and toasted bread for soup
Credit: Marcus Nilsson

Serve or Save

Ladle into bowls; drizzle with more olive oil, Parmesan, and fresh herbs. Make crostini for dipping. To freeze the soup: Let cool, then ladle into resealable plastic bags. Freeze flat on a cookie tray, then stack horizontally.

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