My new master recipe for making vegetable soup, easy to make on the fly with any and many on-hand and in-season vegetables, winter vegetables for now, but summer, spring and fall vegetables too. The recipe is perfect for cooks who belong to CSAs or shop at farmers markets because it both takes advantage of and helps use up fresh vegetables. (Want to add frozen vegetables too? Good idea!)
For the Weight Watchers crowd, I think you'll love this soup. A whole cup is just one point but the soup has such good flavor and texture that it's ever-so filling and satisfying. In fact, the recipe has become my own personal "Weight Watchers Vegetable Soup recipe".
Happy New Year, all! Welcome to 2012! Here's to making it a great year!
"... the best pot of veggie soup I have ever made." ~ TessM
"This was wonderful!" ~ Pippa
"Great recipe! Love it, love it!" ~ Anonymous
"Great recipe, thanks!" ~ Bridget
"... it tasted great! I'm proud of myself because I usually fail in the kitchen so this is a feat for me." ~ Karen
"Soooo useful!" ~ N McBee
Late in 2011, TIME Magazine named "the Protester" the "'Person' of the Year" for the influence that world-wide protests are making on the course of events.
Then the word people at Merriam-Webster announced that the "Word of the Year" is "pragmatic", a choice based on number of searches not importance. (Really? So many of us don't know what the word "pragmatic" means? My goodness.)
I'm jumping on these long-standing traditions and hereby declare "Homemade Vegetable Soup" the "Soup of the Year". Really. I do. It's a form of protest and it's pragmatic, both.
PROTEST Is anyone else just a little bored by the famous Weight Watchers Zero Points Vegetable Soup, the one Weight Watchers recipe that people flock to this time of year? Sure, there are variations – Mexican, Asian, Italian and Fresh Vegetable – but still. The soup is a little bland and the ingredient list is restrictive.
PRAGMATIC A “pragmatic” recipe is one that you can rely on, day in and day out. It can be varied based on what’s in season and what’s on hand and what appeals in the moment. It’s good for you. It’s one you don’t get tired of.
So I started my own protest with a pragmatic vegetable soup, my own personal “Weight Watchers Soup” if you will – but gave free rein with the vegetable choices, the cooking liquids and the spices.
WOW. What soup! Every potful was memorable. Along the way, I made note of the tricks that helped. You're going to love this soup in all its many variations!
CHOPPING TIPS Cut large pieces, you want to be able identify what vegetables are in the soup. Unless gnarly, leave the skins on. The vegetables needn’t be perfectly fresh.
VEGETABLE CHOICES Aim for 4 to 6 kinds of vegetables, varying color and shape and kind of vegetable. Use all fresh vegetables or half fresh vegetables and half good canned or frozen vegetables. Good fresh vegetables include bell peppers (red for color, green for price), turnips, fennel, rutabaga, sweet potatoes (peeled), potatoes (skins on), turnip, zucchini, bok choy, kohlrabi, cabbage. Good canned vegetables include corn and green beans. Good frozen vegetables include corn, green beans and green peas. The frozen vegetables, especially the blends, at Trader Joe’s are often wonderful. Be careful with broccoli and Brussels sprouts which are fine at first but by Day Three can turn the soup a little skunky, a little more sauerkraut-ish than my palate wants. If you like, add tender fresh greens like baby spinach and Swiss chard for the last five minutes of cooking.
COOKING TIPS The trick to this soup is flavor and texture. For flavor, let the onion/carrot/celery mixture cook really well, golden or darker. For texture, the other vegetables should be cooked just until done. It helps to add denser vegetables first, that would be starchy vegetables like potatoes and sweet potatoes.
CHOOSING LIQUIDS Experiment with liquids! For one especially good pot, I used the whey from homemade yogurt. V8 makes for something wonderfully tomato-y good but do substitute two cups more vegetables for the can of tomatoes. Homemade Vegetable Bouillon is excellent but by no means a requirement.
CHOOSING DRIED HERBS Play with herbs too. I’m in love with DIY Fresh Dried Herbs but plain dried basil or common blends like Italian seasoning are delicious choices. This soup is a good way to use the spice blends that can take over our spice pantries. I love a slightly hot-spicy “Minnesota” spice blend my dad gave me for Christmas last year.
HOMEMADE VEGETABLE SOUP
Time to table: 90 minutes
Makes about 9 cups
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion (see CHOPPING TIPS, left)
- 2 ribs celery
- 2 carrots, peeled
CHOOSE 4-6 VEGETABLES
- 6 cups vegetables fresh, frozen or canned vegetables (about 28 ounces total)
(see VEGETABLE CHOICES, left)
- 4 cups liquid (water, stock or broth, enough to cover, see CHOOSING LIQUIDS, left)
- 15 ounces canned diced tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon dried herbs such as basil, Italian seasoning or other spice blends (see CHOOSING DRIED HERBS, left)
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt if using water for liquid, otherwise to taste
FOR RICHNESS In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat olive oil until shimmery on medium high. Add onion, celery and carrots and stir well to coat with oil. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables turn golden or darker in color.
VEGETABLES While the onion-celery-carrot mixture cooks, prep the other vegetables, it helps to keep starchier vegetables separate from the rest. Stir vegetables in (starchier ones first) and let cook for a few minutes, stirring often.
SEASON Cover with liquid. Add tomatoes, dried herbs and salt. Bring to a boil.
GENTLY COOK Cover and reduce heat to maintain a slow simmer and let cook for about 30 minutes or until vegetables are done.
TO SERVE Delicious serve fresh from the pot but keeps well over several days too.
VEGETABLES DON'T PILE POUNDS ONTO OUR BELLIES AND BACKSIDES.
Weight Watchers teaches us to be ever so conscious of – to record, even – every bite we eat. It’s a technique that works, in fact, you’ll see it atop my own list of tips for How to Lose Weight with Weight Watchers.
So this recipe may be hard for some Weight Watchers to accept, especially newcomers so pleased to finally get their food consumption back into control. I can hear them now:
"Alanna, how can you calculate points when the exact vegetables aren't named? Won’t the points vary with different vegetables?"
Yes! But these are vegetables not calorie-dense proteins and sweets. For anyone who prefers low-carb vegetables, choose from this list, How Many Carbs in Vegetables?
"But wait! Alanna, you put fat in this soup!"
You bet! Our bodies need healthy oils. Besides, the combination of olive oil and heat draw out the sweetness of the onion, celery and carrots that creates the rich, golden flavors of this soup. No bland soup, this! Besides, a single tablespoon divided nine ways is just 1/3 of a teaspoon of oil per cup of soup. Even Weight Watchers won't object.
"Isn't there an "official Weight Watchers vegetable soup recipe? Isn't it somehow a magic potion that makes losing weight with Weight Watchers happen?"
There are several Weigh Watchers vegetable soup recipes. Try them all, try this one too. Make and eat a pot every week. You can't go wrong.
So yes, this is vegetable soup, better still, homemade wholesome and whole-food vegetable soup. You’ll eat it a cup or two at a time, for lunch, for a snack, before supper, even for breakfast. It’s filling, it’s satisfying. The recipe is written especially to be loose and carefree. It’s written to revel in vegetables – so that we will, yes, eat more of them, as we all know we should.
So let’s obsess about the details of unhealthy too-large serving sizes and the cakes and muffins and yummy cheesy casseroles we stuff into our bodies. But when it comes to vegetables, let’s love and eat them with abandon. End of soapbox. They don't call me the "veggie evangelist" for nothing.
This Week, Years Past 2002 - 2011
Beef Stew with Cranberries Low-Fat Vegetable Soup Tin Foil Chicken & Veggies Morning Oatmeal: How & Why to Cook Oatmeal Every Day How to Lose Weight with Weight Watchers Italian Lemon Chicken Quick 'n' Easy Raw Salad
This Week, Elsewhere
More Weight Watchers-Friendly Recipes
to Make Again and Again
More Vegetable-Happy Soup Recipes for Winter
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