simple {garden} vegetable soup

if you’re a vegetable lover like me, there comes a time about once every two weeks or so when you have a collection of them left over in your refrigerator: a quarter of cabbage, half a cauliflower, some carrots, a zucchini or two, a few stalks of celery, mushrooms, maybe some asparagus, a small bunch of parsley….that’s what i found in my produce drawer when i was looking for inspiration tonight for creating a much needed comforting dinner. the decision was easy: it would be just what we needed at the end of a long and coldish day- a pot loaded with lots of good ingredients simmered together long enough to create that familiar flavor only a good vegetable soup can deliver. it is easy to prepare and soothingly delicious, with an ingredient list as fluid as the soup itself- you can use any and all vegetables you have available. i love to add a good sprinkle of parmesan cheese and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to round out the flavors just before digging in. oh, joy!

(very flexible) ingredients for 6-8 servings:

  • 4-5 cups good (preferably homemade) vegetable or chicken broth (see recipes here-vegetarian & here-chicken)
  • 1-2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes (for spicy-optional)
  • a small bunch of fresh herbs (thyme, parsley, &/or rosemary)
  • 3-4 leeks, sliced in half, then sliced and washed (soaked in water to remove dirt) or 1 large onion cubed
  • 3-4 roma tomatoes, cubed (or 1 cup stewed tomatoes)
  • 3-4 cups cubed (about the same size vegetables of choice)
  • good parmesan cheese
  • 1 lemon or lime
  • {in this case: 1/4 small cabbage, 1/2 small cauliflower, 2 zucchini’s, about 10 asparagus stalks, 3-4 celery stalks, 8-10 crimini mushrooms, leeks, 1 carrot, parsley, ripe roma tomatoes-choose organic if/when possible}
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1. in a heavy deep pot (or dutch oven) heat the olive oil and add the heartier vegetables (leeks or onions, celery, zucchini, carrots, mushrooms, cauliflower) with salt & pepper (and red pepper flakes if adding) and sautee on high while stirring for 3-4 minutes.
2. add other vegetables (like cabbage and asparagus) and sautee for another 3-5 minutes before adding the broth, tomatoes, and most of the (roughly chopped) herbs (save some for the end). bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer mostly covered (allow steam to get out) on low for about 30-40 minutes.

3. keep an eye on the soup and add broth if necessary. taste and adjust salt & pepper. add remaining fresh herbs (parsley &/or thyme-not rosemary), a sprinkle of parmesan (or gruyere) cheese, and serve piping HOT with a lemon wedge.

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