Hearty Vegetable Soup (aka, Makeshift Minestrone)

Monday, April 2, 2012

Would you prefer watching a video? Check out the cooking video showing me making a variation of this soup here. Start with leftovers and it only takes about fifteen minutes!

Nothing quite hits the spot on a rainy Saturday like homemade soup.

I’m hoping is to post something everyday this week with an eye towards keeping things brief, as I’m all too aware of the myriad interesting things that fly across your screen and vie for your attention. That said, it’s important for me to continue building a solid repertoire and boy is there lots to cover! (See how this entire paragraph is just a waste of space and time? Apparently I’m even verbose when writing about about being succinct.)

I should have part two of the squash soup video posted tomorrow, as my battle with iMovie has continued and it’s still kicking my … winning.  In the meantime, here’s another soup idea for you. It’s something to the effect of a tomato-based veggie soup slash makeshift minestrone. On Saturday it was more precisely billed as “it’s cold and rainy-I want soup-what can I make to use up the final bits of last week’s produce.” That’s obviously far too long for a soup name, so let’s just go ahead and call it hearty veggie soup. Perfect for Meatless Monday, too!

What You Need

I began with about 1 c of leftover tomato sauce, which can be a starting point for such things as tomato soup or chili. I was initially planning on making a velvety cream of tomato soup. However, I had all sorts of veggie remains, including 1/2 celery root, 1/2 poblano pepper, 1/2 c store-bought veggie juice, 6 small tomatoes, a few cups of mixed greens, and various herbs. I also had whole wheat elbow macaroni in the pantry. Onions, garlic, and parmigiania cheese are always on hand in my house. Starting to sound like minestrone, yes?  It basically is minestrone without the white beans, which I didn’t have.

What To Do

Heat a few tbsp of olive oil (or canola, if you prefer). Add chopped pepper and onion (1/2 or whole) and diced celery root. Sprinkle with ~1/4 tsp salt (if you like) and ground pepper. While cooking over medium heat 6-8 minutes, chop the tomatoes. Next, add several cloves of crushed garlic (2-4) and stir for 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add leftover tomato sauce and fresh tomatoes and allow the mixture to come together for 5 minutes or so, stirring occasionally. Add ~1 c veggie juice and 3-4 c stock, a bit at a time. I used no-sodium bouillon as my stocks were frozen; I always have bouillon on hand for this reason. Don’t add the stock all at once because you don’t want the soup to become too thin and dilute all the flavors.  If you have a parmigiana rind, you can add that, too. Stir, bring to a boil, and turn down to simmer.

Soup close-up: Tons of veggies, and a sprinkle of parmigiana or asiago finishes it off beautifully.

Prepare your pasta. Cook it slightly less than al dente as it will continue to cook when added to the soup. Do try whole grain pasta if you haven’t before – this soup is the perfect place to do so, and I’ll bet you can’t even taste a difference. While the pasta is cooking, chop your herbs; I used parsley, rosemary, and thyme. After adding all that, I remembered I had a few cups of salad greens left (spinach, arugula, and mesclun) so I chopped those up and added that, too. Give it a stir.

Mix in the macaroni, and simmer for ~5 minutes or until the pasta is cooked to your liking, Add a bit more starchy pasta water / stock / juice to thin out, taste, and adjust the seasonings as needed. Dried herbs have a more intense flavor than fresh herbs, and even with about 1/4 c parsley and a few springs of both rosemary and thyme, I found I needed ~1 tsp each dried oregano and basil and additional black pepper. You can add a pinch of crushed red pepper at this point, too, for a kick. Often with these big Italian flavors you don’t need a lot of salt, so try adjusting with herbs before adding more sodium.

Want more cooking details? Check out this video.

Other Soup Notes and Options

  • Celery root (aka, celeriac) is just that, the root of celery. It’s starchy and needs time to soften so keep that in mind. I actually prefer celery but celeriac is in season.
  • Carrots are traditionally included in minestrone and make a nice addition; I was out and my husband hates cooked carrots. They will take time to soften so sauté with the other hard veggies.
  • You can omit the fresh tomatoes if you like, using canned (chopped or diced) or just leftover tomato sauce.
  • You can omit the veggie/tomato juice, but you might then need more stock.
  • Homemade stock is always best, but there are plenty of great store-bought options out there, including bouillon as I used here; always opt for low- or no-sodium.
  • Looking for something even more filling? Add beans. White beans are traditionally used in minestrone, but it’s your soup, use what you like. Garbanzos would work nicely in this particular blend, I think. Again, opt for no sodium if using canned beans.
  • Looking for something lighter in calories or gluten-free? Omit the pasta or select a gluten-free variety.
  • For more on soup and why it’s so good for you, read this post and search the category menu from the home page.

So much for brevity. Sigh. Ah, well. There’s always tomorrow, she says hopefully..


Dr. P.K. Newby is a nutrition scientist, speaker, and author with expertise in all things food, farm to fork, whether preventing obesity and other chronic diseases through diet or teaching planet-conscious eating. As a health expert and food personality, she brings together her passions for food, cooking, science, and sustainability to educate and inspire, helping people eat their way towards better health, one delectable bite at a time. Healthy Hedonism (TM) is her philosophy: Because healthy food shouldn’t suck.

Copyright © 2011-2020 P.K. Newby. All Rights Reserved.

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