I am not going to list this as a recipe, because I want you to make this based on what you have in the refrigerator and what you think you and your family will enjoy. Be creative, sometimes I make this based on what I have that simply needs to be used up at the time. Sometimes, I make this out of whatever vegetables I can purchase that are already cut up at the supermarket. It costs more, but it is cheaper than eating out or ordering in, and much healthier!
Take a 6-8 quart pot, heat two tablespoons of olive oil and sauté a large onion or two medium onions, sliced or diced, until they are wilted and starting to brown. If you are making this for kids, cut everything up small. Add 3 large cloves of chopped garlic, and cook just until the garlic is no longer raw.
Add water to the pot until it is a little less than three quarters full and bring to a boil. If you would like additional flavor you can use some prepared stock, but please use something organic that is not too salty. I like Pacific and Imagine brands.
While it is coming to a boil, you can start cutting up your veggies into bite size pieces. Add squash, sweet potatoes, carrots, string beans, celery, yams, green or red peppers, turnips, parsnips …. Whatever you think you will enjoy.
Base the amount of vegetables you add on how much liquid you want in the soup. The more you add, the more it will be like a stew.
Once the liquid starts to boil, lower it to medium and start adding the vegetables as you are chopping. Cook this very slowly; just enough so it knows it’s cooking. Once all the vegetables are in you can add salt, pepper, a little garlic powder, and a bit of turmeric. If you like it spicy, you can add some dried chilies. Add any herbs you like, I usually add some parsley, and rosemary, but be careful if you’re cooking for kids- they don’t usually like the taste of rosemary. Save fast cooking veggies for the last 15 minutes or so. Yellow squash and zucchini are great, but they cook quickly, so add them in towards the end. You can add mushrooms (shitake and maitake are great in the winter) any greens, cut up very small- like spinach, collard greens, dandelion greens or kale. You can also add any leftovers you have that are still fresh- towards the end.
Start off easy on the salt and add it in a little at a time while it is cooking based on your taste tests.
The key is to cook it slow so the vegetable’s flavors get the chance to meld.
It is cooked when the vegetables are soft and the soup tastes good. You can let it sit out until it is cooled.
This is a pot luck kind of thing in the winter. Have you ever read Stone Soup? That’s the concept we are shooting for- a little of this and a little of that. Make enough so you have leftovers. I sometimes cut up an apple and throw it in towards the end. If you make chicken or fish and have leftovers, you can heat them up and put them on the table for anyone that wants to add them in.
If you don’t use any animal protein, this soup will keep for over a week, easy. You can add some more water or stock, add different vegetables, eat it with brown rice, quinoa, or even some small cooked whole wheat pasta or brown rice pasta (Tinkyada brand is gluten –free and yummy). Just don’t put the grains in the whole batch unless you are eating it all or it will absorb all the liquid overnight.
This is an amazing healthy meal in the winter. It is a vehicle for all the foods you need to ensure you are getting the nutrients you need to get you through the season.
Have fun and experiment!