Everybody needs a basic vegetable soup recipe that’s quick, easy and empties the fridge of what’s hanging out and starting to look stupid; this is mine. Bonus: it makes tons of soup (think 20 cups or more) so there’s lots left to reheat during the week or freeze for later. Second bonus: the turmeric makes for a bright and sunny soup which is perfect when it’s cold and grey. While the spicing may seem a little strange, it works – so just have faith and try it.
What you need:
- 1 large leek, quartered and sliced into small squares
- 2 onions, diced
- 4 cloves of garlic, 2 of them minced, 2 of them peeled and whole
- 1/4 of a large squash or 1/2 of a small squash, cooked and cut into bite-size pieces
- 1/2 a head of cabbage, diced
- 3 carrots, diced
- 5 ribs of celery, diced
- 4 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1-1/2 to 2 cups of dried whole yellow peas
- 8 bay leaves, divided
- 3 whole cloves
- a 1’’ piece/stick of cinnamon or cassia
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
- 1/4 teaspoon dried tarragon
- 1 teaspoon sea salt (or more or less, to taste)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 3 cubes of veggie bouillon, cut into smallish pieces
- 12 cups water
What you do:
- Soak the dry beans overnight in water.
- Drain the beans; add to a pot with fresh water to cover by an inch or two, 3 of the bay leaves and the 2 whole garlic cloves.
- Either pressure cook for 12 minutes and allow a natural pressure release; or simmer on stove-top until beans are cooked through and breaking up some (an hour or so). Drain, compost garlic and bay, then set aside.
- While the beans are cooking, dice all the veggies if that isn’t done already. The leek, onion and minced garlic can go in one bowl while the cabbage, carrot and celery can go into another. Leave the cooked squash on its own since it gets added at the very end along with the beans.
- Heat a really big soup pot – heed the warning, it better be big – over medium heat. Add the olive oil, onions, leek and minced garlic. Sauté until translucent, 5-10 minutes. Turn down the heat a little if there’s any browning action happening.
- Add the carrots, celery and cabbage to the pot along with all of the spices and the cubes of veggie bouillon. Leave aside the salt and pepper, those get added at the very end. Sauté everything until it’s tender-crisp, 4-6 minutes. The vegetables should release enough moisture to ensure that the spices don’t stick to the bottom of the pot, but if it seems too dry you can add a splash of water or two.
- Add the water and bring to a low boil. Reduce heat and cover. Simmer until the veggies are almost as done as you want them.
- Uncover and add the beans, squash, salt and pepper. Mix, turn off the heat, cover the pot and let the flavours get to know each other awhile before serving.
- Replace four cups of the water with a liter or so of crushed tomatoes. You might want to substitute the thyme, or part of it, for oregano and/or basil as well.
- Add half a can of tomato paste along with the water. Spice modification as per the crushed tomato option above.
- Switch the veggies suggested for whatever you have that’s starting to look somewhat suspect in the fridge crisper.
- Switch the yellow peas for a different variety of bean.
- Omit the tarragon, thyme and marjoram and add a tablespoon of curry powder instead. If you do that you might want to use coconut oil instead of the olive oil and perhaps even substitute some of the water with coconut milk.
- Omit the salt and when serving, to each bowl, add a teaspoon (or more, to taste) of mellow white miso.