So if you haven’t realized it yet, I’m a HUGE soup fan. I know, I’ll try to branch out to some different types of recipes soon, but really … homemade soup is an amazing choice for several reasons:
- You can make a big batch of soup over the weekend, serve it up for a couple meals, and freeze the rest for quick meals when you don’t have the time to cook.
- Soup is an amazing way to get your family eating vegetables without a lot of fuss!
- Soup is also a very economical meal. Serve it up solo or with a side salad or a wedge of cornbread, and you have a real meal that doesn’t break the bank!
- Last but not least, in these colder winter months, there’s no better way to warm up after a long day than a piping hot bowl of soup!
Now a lot of folks have forgotten about vegetable soups. In our society we’re so caught up with protein, many people think vegetable soup is somehow incomplete. Well, I’m hear to tell you those folks are wrong. Maybe they’ve been left unsatisfied by some salty, highly processed canned soup substitute, but a REAL, homemade vegetable soup is both hearty and delicious. And while fresh vegetables are great if you have them, I think frozen veggies can work just as well!
Making a great-tasting vegetable soup isn’t hard, but here are some of my secrets:
- Use a high quality vegetable broth. I like to use my own, homemade broth, but please, avoid highly processed broths like Swanson. They’re really not much more than salted water with some highly processed additives.
- I love my Crock-Pot®, and slow-cookers can do an good job with vegetables soups. But something magical happens when you sauté the onions, garlic, and other vegetables. This process really brings out more flavors, and it also makes the soup sweeter. Sweeter? Yes, sweeter! My recipe for Hearty Homemade Vegetable Soup tastes sweet, but there’s not even one added drop of sugar, honey or maple syrup. The secret is in the sautéing—it brings out the sweet flavors of the veggies. So if you want to use your slow-cooker, go for it … you just might be missing a little bit of flavor. 🙂
- I think chopped leeks also add a lot more flavor than onions, so give them a try sometime. If you don’t like leeks, I think a good sweet onion like a Vidalia or Walla Walla can work well too. Of course, yellow onions will work fine … but I think sautéing them becomes even more important to draw out their sweeter flavor!
- For the potatoes choose a nice Yukon Gold or red potato since both should hold their shape well. Russets will break apart so try to avoid them.
- Make sure you adjust the vegetables to suit the tastes of your family. I think I’ve got a delicious blend of veggies here, but pick what works best for your family. Probably one of the easiest substitutions to make is to add some peas.
- Don’t forget the lemon juice. I’m telling you, when cooking it’s the mixture of fresh flavors that gets our mouth watering. So squeeze in some real lemon juice and add the flavor. It does amazing things to round out the taste of this soup!
- And thanks to a reader comment below, here’s an idea if you have a family member who doesn’t like diced tomatoes. Simply puree the tomatoes and blend them into the soup. You’ll get all of the flavor with none of the chunks. Thanks to Sandy for this great idea!
So without further adieu, here it is. My favorite, Hearty Homemade Vegetable Soup. I hope your family enjoys it as much as mine does!
Hearty Homemade Vegetable Soup
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cups chopped leeks white part only or onions (see notes)
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh garlic
- Sea Salt
- 2 cups fresh or frozen carrots peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 cups potatoes peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 cups fresh or frozen green beans stemmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 8 cups vegetable broth we've got a great recipe for you or substitute your preferred recipe/brand
- 2, 14.5 ounce cans diced tomatoes
- 4 sprigs of fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried
- 2 cups fresh or frozen corn
- 1/2-1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 4 tablespoons fresh parsley chopped
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice freshly squeezed
- In a 8-quart pot, warm olive oil over medium-low heat.
- Add leeks/onions, garlic, and a pinch of sea salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft.
- Add carrots, potatoes, green beans. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until carrots start to get tender—about 5 minutes.
- Add the vegetable broth and increase the heat to medium high.
- Bring the pot to a simmer, then add the tomatoes, corn, and pepper.
- Reduce heat to low. Cover and cook for about 25 to 30 minutes or until all the vegetables are fork tender.
- Add the parsley, lemon juice, and remove from heat.
- Season to taste with sea salt.
Kitchen Resources & Tips:
- A great kitchen ladle is a must for any soup or chili recipe. I recently realized the ladle I had been using was old and plastic … which got me wondering what sort of plastic it was made of and then thinking there might be BPA in it. So I decided it was time to replace the old one with something that I didn’t have to worry about, like this stainless steel ladle from ChefLand.
- A great, non-slip cutting board is an invaluable kitchen asset when cutting up the vegetables for your soup. I upgraded to these Epicurean non-slip boards this summer, and I’ve been really pleased with them.
- A high quality set of cutting knives can make a huge difference, especially when you’re cooking REAL food. My local knife shop advised me to invest in the higher quality Zwilling J.A. Henckels Twin Signature brand (much higher quality than the J.A. Henckels International brand) and time has proven them right. (To make sure you know which Henckels knives are better, here’s a tip — look for the “twins” on the knives vs. the single guy sporting the trident.) While you can buy these knives online, if you’ve got a local knife/cutlery store, support them instead. I love my local cutlery store and bring my knives in every six months or so to get them maintained with a nice, sharp edge!