One of my cooking goals is to make a big pot of soup every week. Most weeks it happens. I am not a big fan of raw veggies, as good as everyone says they are for us. My digestion prefers cooked veggies. Our basic soup is simple and satisfying. We use readily available, inexpensive ingredients and get several servings of vegetables in every bowl. Soup is the perfect fast food and knowing there is a pot in the refrigerator has saved us many lunches out!
Start with a 1-2 tablespoons good quality olive oil in a large, heavy pot. on medium heat…we use a 6 qt pot for our soup but all quantities are negotiable to the family you have–more or less, depending on your needs–if you only have a four quart pot, adjust accordingly.
Chop onions…..1, 2, 3 –how much onion is too much? We like a lot, so I use a minimum of two. Saute onion in the heated pot until translucent and slightly browned.
Celery is next. I either chop by hand or put it through my food processor. My sons prefer smaller pieces, so if I’m feeling virtuous, I will send them through the processor. I love the celery hearts from Costco and usually use two in our soup–half a package. Add to the onion and cook until tender.
Carrots are the star veggie with their bright color and mild flavor. A full pound for our soup. Add to the celery and onion. Saute briefly and then put the lid on to steam the carrots until soft.
After the veggies are perfect–not mushy, but crisp, tender, I add the seasonings. This is where your preferences can make it any kind of soup you like. I generally use the bouillon paste from Costco as a start–chicken, beef or a mixture of both. I love tarragon with chicken, Italian seasoning with beef. After you have let your seasonings bloom in the vegetables/oil…….add fluids. Again, you can use what you have–plain water, vegetable juice, whole/stewed/diced tomatoes–seasoned or not…….all make excellent fluid choices. Tomatoes are a favorite at our house, so I usually add a can or two of diced tomatoes. I am especially fond of tomatoes with green chilies–it adds just the right amount of “heat” to the pot.
Meat is usually leftover chicken breast or ham, diced; canned chicken or beef; ground beef or sausage–really, you can add any meat you have on hand. This is soup, not stew, so the meat plays a lesser role–for flavor and interest. And, of course, the more meat the better everyone likes it!
The last addition I learned from my mother-in-law. A head of cabbage, chopped in fine strips added just before serving adds a lovely texture. Steam briefly with the lid on and there you have it–daily soup without all the outrageous amounts of salt of the canned variety. Colorful, bursting with vegetables and immensely satisfying.