Hearty Vegetable Soup Base

You can add tortellini or tofu to the soup base for a variety .

You can add tortellini or tofu to the soup base for a variety .

Hearty Vegetable Soup
Serves 6-8
Prep time-15-20 minutes
Cooking time-30-45 minutes

My family loves this basic hearty vegetable soup recipe, and it’s quick and easy to make. If you’re serving a big crowd, it’s easy to double the recipe (or, if you want leftovers to freeze and reheat for a later date, you can also double the recipe).  If you’re a busy caregiver, its the perfect recipe for preparing ahead of time.

In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the chopped carrots (they take the longest to cook, so I add them first). Keep chopping each vegetable and adding it to the pot as soon as you finish chopping it. Cover the veggies and let them steam and simmer for about ten minutes, then add the tomato paste, tomato sauce, salt and water. Stir well, and allow to simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.

1 Tbs. olive oil
1 cup chopped carrots-small dice
1/2 finely chopped onion
2 cloves chopped garlic
1 diced jalapeño OR 1 tsp. red pepper flakes (or both, if you like spicy food)
2 cups of chopped Napa cabbage or green cabbage
1 1/2 cups potatoes-small dice
1 chopped yellow squash-bigger chunks
1 chopped zucchini-bigger chunks
2 cups fresh spinach (chopped)
1 small can of tomato paste
1 can tomato sauce
4 cups water
2 tsp salt

IF you’d like to make the soup a minestrone, add
1 can of drained cannellini beans
1 Tbs. dried basil
½ tsp. dried oregano
1 cup dried tortellini

OR you could make it a vegan soup and add curry-tofu to the soup:
Rinse and prepare a package of extra firm tofu (see below under ‘tofu tips’) and cut it into 1/2 –inch chunks. Heat 1 Tbs. olive oil in a frying pan and add ½ tsp. turmeric, 1 tsp. curry powder and 1 Tbs. of chicken-flavored seasoning (I use Bill’s Best Chickenish Flavoring—it’s vegan and gluten-free) and 1 tsp. salt. Stir the spices and let them bubble for a minute before adding the cubed tofu. Fry the tofu until it’s golden and then add to the soup.

Tofu tips. The most widely available tofu is ‘tub tofu’ that comes in a plastic tub with water. Make sure you purchase ‘Extra Firm’ if you buy ‘tub tofu’. This kind of tofu tastes best if you drain it, rinse it and then squeeze the water out of it before cooking with it. I usually unwrap the tofu, drain and rinse it, set it on a plate, put a plastic lid on top, and set a gallon of milk on top of the lid. The weight of the jug of milk will squeeze out the remaining liquid (it takes about an hour to get most of the water out). If ‘brick tofu’ is available in your area, it is easier to work with and doesn’t require the squeezing process to make it tasty. ‘Brick tofu’ is super-firm and comes wrapped in a brick with no water.

To find out more about why I cook the way I do, see my “Healthy (er) Choices Manifesto” post http://www.blessedbutstressed.com/?p=185