Sell Us Veggies: Comforting Vegetable Soup

Comforting Vegetable Soup serve with crusty bread.

Comforting Vegetable Soup

Serving Size: 6-8 Servings

Ingredients

  • 1 sweet yellow onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
  • 2 carrots, thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 8 cups water or vegetable stock
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 sweet potato or small squash, peeled & diced
  • 1 white potato, diced
  • 1 medium parsnip, diced
  • 1 medium kohlrabi or golden beet
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen peas
  • 1 cup stemmed and chopped kale or rainbow chard
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast flakes (*see note)
  • 1 tablespoon red miso
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
  • Sea salt and black pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Place onion, celery, carrots, and oil in large soup pot. Sauté 5 to 10 minutes over medium heat until onions are soft. Add water or stock, garlic, potatoes and/or squash and root vegetables. Bring to boil. Cover and simmer 20 to 30 minutes until potatoes are tender. Add remaining ingredients except miso, parsley, and seasonings. Simmer 10 minutes until vegetables are tender. Remove from heat. Stir in miso and parsley. Season with sea salt and black pepper.
  • Serve with crusty bread.

Notes

*Nutritional yeast can be found in the bulk section of health food stores, and imparts a mellow, cheese-like flavor. It is not the same as traditional yeast. If you cannot find it, feel free to substitute a bit of freshly shaved parmesan in its place.

Food is really common property. When we eat plants, we are eating sunlight itself, the product of photosynthesis, the nutrients created by the turning of soil and the work of the earth. Making your own food is about transformation. It’s about the magic of living yeast, putting a lid on a pot of rice and watching sand-like grains evolve into tiny pillows that soak up the flavors of our sauces.

This kind of transformation involves a certain amount of faith. We work hard to prepare food. We wash the rice, knead the bread, stir the pot. We measure the ingredients carefully. We wait, we watch, we are aware of the temperature of the oven, the heat under the pan, the smell of the herbs and the stickiness of the garlic clove as we pull away sheets of papery skin.

Our natural tendency is to avoid ingredients we think might ruin our meal. We want to throw them away or maybe move them way back on the shelf, out of sight, behind everything else.

Scanning a recipe and finding the words “chard” or “parsnip” can be cause enough to move past the dish and find something with more familiar, comfortable ingredients. After all, many of us didn’t grow up eating fresh foods. We don’t know their flavor profile or the method of their preparation, and we fear they might ruin an otherwise palatable dinner.

Vegetables are often relegated to the side of the plate. They are an after-thought. We simply steam some frozen peas, boil some broccoli, then slather the plant with butter or a cheese sauce to mask its flavor, and focus on the meat of the meal.

It’s different when your diet is comprised entirely of plants. I’ve been vegan for seven years. In that time, everything I’ve consumed has been a product of the earth itself. The “meat” of my meal is the part of supper that is, for most cooks, the last item on the agenda.

Imagine for a moment if you cooked your main dish as you do your vegetables – if you took your breast of chicken or cut of steak, and simply threw it in some boiling water or tossed it in the microwave with a pat of butter and some stock. Of course, if these were the only modes of cooking you knew, you would think that meat was distasteful. By comparison, imagine treating your vegetables as you do your main course. Take the time to render a well-seasoned marinade and slowly roast the vegetables until their sugars caramelize, braise them in a pot on the stove, scraping up the browned bits of onion and sweet pepper and allowing them to mingle with a sauce. All of the sudden, vegetables can assume center stage.

That is how I eat. As a vegan, I tend to my plant foods with the same care you might offer a filet of fresh fish or a beef medallion.  My meals are a concert of wonderful, living foods – parsley salad with oil cured olives and lemon, antipasto of marinated beets and grilled fennel and radicchio, collard-kale-mushroom galettes, asparagus tarts and Brussels sprouts cooked with tahini and sweet dates. My children have been raised on this fare, as well, and seek the comfort of warm meals that nourish their growing bodies.

Soups are a wonderful introduction to cooking with fresh vegetables. Soup is forgiving. You can easily substitute ingredients, and if you let it simmer a bit too long the flavors only meld further. Children are receptive to the familiarity of a steaming bowl of hot soup, and nothing remedies a cold faster than a nutrient dense bowl of homemade soup.

Don’t worry if you don’t have every vegetable listed; this soup recipe is very flexible. Use whatever you have on hand. Frozen vegetables are okay, too. Feel free to serve with a hunk of crusty bread.

becky

Becky is a mother to Henry, age 7 and Midori, age 5. She is a professional cyslist for Team Novo Nordisk Women’s Cycling Team, as well as a pediatric vision therapist. When she is not traveling to races, she and her husband, Dennis, make their home in northern Colorado. You can find more of her writing over at the LiveWell Colorado Mom Blog.

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