This recipe is featured in my Comfort Soups To Keep You Warm recipe ebook along with 29 other AMAZING vegan soup recipes, vegetable stock recipes, and all the tips and tricks to making ANY kind of soup. It’s going to teach you basically to be a soup making expert and be able to cook delicious healthy meals at home, very easily from what you have around.
Somedays you just don’t know what to make for dinner, or only have odds and ends leftover from previous recipes. You look in your refrigerator and see a few carrots, an onion, some celery, some greens and maybe some mushrooms that have seen better days.
What do you do with it all?
You make homemade vegetable soup of course! This is what I do when I feel creatively drained or uninspired to make a new recipe from scratch.
This is also a great way to eat a “Nutrient Dense” or “Eat To Live” style vegan meal like Dr. Joel Fuhrman recommends. (Check out his books Super Immunity, or Eat To Live, if you already haven’t) Lots of low calorie, high antioxidant plant foods, gently cooked together are wonderful. In Feb 2012 I was at the McDougall 3-Day Advanced Study Weekend, and Dr. Fuhrman was telling us the benefits of eating just 1/2 an onion a day, about 1 tomato and just 1 mushroom and how nutritious these are to add to your diet regularly. He has an amazing wealth of knowledge, and I am definitely going to be making more nutrient dense, low calorie green vegetable based dishes from now on.
This soup is a great way to get more of these antioxidants and phytochemicals into your diet in a fairly easy no-fuss way. It’s also a great vegan cabbage soup recipe that is low calorie and packed with veggies.
It is also especially handy to keep some vegetable broth on hand (low sodium is always preferable) for just such an occasion, so you don’t have to make your own vegetable stock as well when you’re short on time. (When I do have time I like to make fresh vegetable stock every week and keep it in the fridge for daily sautéing and making soup with)
Making your own nutrient dense vegan homemade soup from scratch is quite easy. The hard work is only peeling and chopping your veggies. Basically use what you have and always start cooking the onions and the hardest vegetables first (so peel and prepare those first) and they can start cooking while you finish peeling/washing and slicing the other veggies.
It also helps to have some fresh herbs on hand. My top picks would be thyme, dill, basil, cilantro or parsley. These can easily be used up in soup recipes if you have any stray or wilting bits left, so don’t throw them away.
And as with making almost any homemade soup, I always throw in a few bay leaves. They really add a lot of flavour and are great for seasoning soup, vegetable stock or dried beans.
Basic Ingredients For Making Your Own Homemade Nutrient Dense Soup
- Low sodium vegetable broth (water and salt is not a good enough substitute for this, low salt bouillon and water will do in a pinch)
- Any vegetables such as carrots, celery, mushrooms, potatoes, yams/sweet potatoes, golden beets, turnips, broccoli, cabbage, spinach, kale, swiss chard, peas, corn, etc
- Beans or grains (if desired) white beans, lentils, chickpeas, pinto beans, black beans, barley, rice, pasta, etc (make sure beans are pre cooked, or canned before adding)
- Fresh herbs/dried herbs like thyme, bay leaf, dill, basil, rosemary, cilantro, parsley, Italian herb seasonings, Herbs De Provence etc
- Base flavor enhancers like canned tomatoes, tomato paste, coconut milk or almond milk (depending whether you want a tomato-ey or creamy soup) *This is optional
- Seasonings like salt, pepper, lemon juice, lime juice, sweetener (to balance acidity from tomatoes or lemon if desired) cumin, chili pepper, cayenne, smoked paprika, etc
If you add some things from each category (especially ones that you personally like…) and can season to taste and balance out blandness by kicking it up with some lemon, salt and a little sweetener if desired you will have a great soup on your hands.
Also a trick I have for bringing out sweetness to tomato based soups is to add golden beets to it. Golden beets can be found at your health food store, and some grocery stores or farmers markets. They are becoming more popular nowadays. They look almost like small yellowish turnips, but they are beets! (For one thing they don’t turn your hand red and make a mess) They contain natural sugars that leak out into the vegetable broth, so it balances out the harsh acidity of tomato based vegetable soups and goes really well with beans or barley as well. Just make sure you cut the pieces into little cubes, and start cooking them right away with the onions in broth. They take the longest to cook, so you don’t want them to be crunchy while the rest of your vegetables are soft.
Additional Pointers For Cooking Homemade Soup
If you want a fast soup, cut all your veggies (especially potatoes and beets) into smaller cubes so they cook faster. Always add these first to the pot along with carrots and celery. Fresh hard herbs like thyme or rosemary need to go in at the beginning of the soup. Dried or tender herbs like basil, cilantro or parsley can go in near the end of cooking to retain their flavour. Quick cooking veggies like greens, broccoli, asparagus or cauliflower should be added 3-5 minutes before your soup is done so they don’t fall apart and go mushy. Canned corn is very forgiving and can go in at the beginning of cooking and will hold it’s firmness. Canned beans should go in the last 10 minutes or so of cooking as they are fairly soft already and you don’t want them to be mushy and overcooked. Always salt and pepper your soup at the end. Don’t just keep adding salt every time you stir it. When some of the water dissipates you can be left with an over salted or over spiced soup. Always reserve taste testing for the end when everything’s cooked and you can doctor up the flavour from there. Start with a little salt, pepper, spice, or sweetener and keep tasting and adding until you get it right to your liking. Always use low sodium, sodium free and sugar free canned foods so you can control the salt and sugar content of the soup. Read labels! *Note about adding pastas to soup. I really prefer cooking most pastas separately and then putting it into serving bowls and pouring the soup over it. This makes your soup nice and clear and pretty and reduces the risk of over cooking it. If you do cook the pasta in the soup, it’s going to use up some of the water and make it murky with the starch. Check the cooking time of your pasta and add it part way through the soup when the vegetables are starting to be almost soft enough.
And now my made up on the spot “throw it all in a pot” and cook it soup. This is a great way to get more greens into your diet or use up any extras that you don’t have a recipe planned for. This soup is packed with green vegetables, but is light and refreshing. We ate this by itself and basically ate the whole pot because it’s very low in calories. This is a great first course or “weight-loss soup” as well. Fill up on healthy vegetables!
“Clean Out The Refrigerator” Homemade Vegetable Soup
Featured in Comfort Soups To Keep You Warm by Veronica Grace
2 litres/quarts vegetable broth, (low sodium or homemade)
1 large onion, diced
4-6 cloves of garlic, minced
1-2 bay leaves
1 tbsp fresh thyme, or 1 tsp dried (or favourite herbs, like dill, basil, etc)
2 carrots, sliced
2 stalks of celery, sliced
1 medium golden beet or turnip, diced small (smaller is better)
1-2 cups of sliced mushrooms
6-8 asparagus spears, ends trimmed and cut into thirds (or other green vegetable of choice)
2 cups broccoli or broccolini florets
2 cups sliced green cabbage, or other greens
handful of parsley, chopped
juice of half a lemon
salt and fresh pepper to taste
1. Add 1 cup vegetable broth to a large soup pot and turn onto medium heat. Add bay leaves, thyme, onions and beets and sauté for 5-6 minutes. Add more broth if necessary to beets until they are almost covered. (While this is cooking you can continue peeling/slicing your other veggies)
2. Add the mushrooms, garlic, carrots, celery, cabbage and the rest of one carton of vegetable broth. Stir and let it keep cooking over medium-medium high heat for about 10-15 minutes. Add more vegetable broth if needed from the other carton. You want your vegetables to be almost done before adding the broccoli and asparagus. Check on the beets, if they are still too hard keep cooking until they are almost done.
3. Add the remaining vegetable broth and bring it up to a boil. When it’s boiling, turn it back down to medium-medium high and add the asparagus, broccoli and parsley (and any spinach if using). Cook for 2-4 minutes (depending on the size you cut them) and test the broccoli and asparagus for doneness. You don’t want them too wilted or mushy. When done immediately take off heat.
4. Add lemon juice, salt and pepper and season to taste. Adjust seasonings if desired.
What do you think of this “Eat To Live” style recipe? Have you ever made homemade soup before? What do you do with your leftover vegetables?