Soup season is my jam! Nearly every week I make a big batch of soup or chili and Eric and I eat it for lunch all week. It’s simple, comforting and soooo delicious! Plus, during cold and flu season, I like to think a little hot broth and a dash of turmeric helps to boost my immune system!
One of my go-tos is a basic homemade vegetable soup, like the chicken noodle soup you might eat when you’re sick. It’s a perfect way to use up any vegetables or beans that might go bad soon and it’s hearty and healthy. Once I make this basic recipe, I add to it based on what I have around.
Extra lentils? Toss ’em in! Water from pasta made the night before? You bet I save that and add it to the pot! It makes for a new flavor every time, which keeps this soup exciting.
How to Make Basic Homemade Vegetable Soup
It starts with a mirepoix (pronounced meer-pwah), which is a combination of chopped onions, celery, and carrots sautéed in oil (olive or coconut work great) over medium heat. Tip: When you sauté onions, add in a little salt (not too much! We’re adding broth soon…) and it will slow down the browning process. We don’t want them brown, just translucent.
Then, add in some minced garlic and stir for about a minute, until fragrant. Next, add a teaspoon of ground turmeric for pretty color, mustardy flavor, and health benefits. Now it’s time for liquid.
I like to use a combination of vegetable broth or stock and water. As for the stock/broth, it notoriously contains unnerving amounts of sodium, so go for a reduced salt or “no salt added” brand like Kitchen Basics Unsalted Vegetable Stock if you can find it. Add in one 32 oz. carton of broth, plus four cups of water to the pot.
Next add in your hearty ingredients. One small to medium white or sweet potato, or half a cup of grains like quinoa or brown rice work well in this recipe.
Turn up the heat to high and bring soup to a boil. Then, turn it back down to medium-low to simmer. If using brown rice, simmer at least 25 minutes. For quinoa and/or potatoes, simmer at least 15 minutes. Cooking pasta (according to the al dente time listed on the box) in the simmering soup would work, too, though I don’t know how well it would keep as leftovers.
Once the soup is simmering, add any fresh or dried herbs to the pot. Bay leaves, thyme, sage and rosemary are all traditional herbs for soup, so add in what you have around. You could make an herb bundle (bouquet garni) by tying together your herbs with some kitchen twine and throwing it into the pot, then fish it out later before serving and storing.
About five minutes before the soup is ready you can add in your beans. (They should be pre-cooked or from a can!)
When the beans are heated through, taste the soup and decide if it needs any additional black pepper. I don’t usually add any salt at this point, but you can adjust that as well, if needed. Serve with lemon wedges. I learned this from Giada De Laurentiis—it really brightens up the flavors! Minced parsley is also a great garnish.
And there you have it! Pair it with a big salad and you’ve got the makings of a perfect meal.
If you’re not serving a crowd, you’re going to have lots of leftovers. I find that my soup stores well in the fridge for about five days, just cool it completely before refrigerating. When I take soup to work I just fill up a mason jar, then pour it into a bowl and heat it in the microwave at lunch time.
Basic Homemade Vegetable Soup Recipe
- 1 tbsp. olive or coconut oil
- ½ yellow onion, chopped
- ½ tsp. ground turmeric
- 4 carrots, chopped
- 3 celery stalks, chopped
- 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
- 32 oz. vegetable broth or stock (low sodium preferred, chicken stock would work too)
- 4 cups water
- 3 cups cooked beans or 2 cans beans
- Fresh and dried herbs (some combination of bay, thyme, rosemary, sage tied with kitchen twine)
- Lemon wedges and/or parsley for serving
- Optional: ½ c. quinoa, brown rice, or 1 medium potato, chopped
- Heat oil over low-medium heat, then add chopped onion, celery and carrots to the pot. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the vegetables begin to soften.
- Add in minced garlic and stir constantly for about a minute, until fragrant. Add ground turmeric and stir for an additional minute. Add vegetable stock or broth and water to pot and turn heat to high.
- If using, add in potatoes, rice and/or quinoa. *See notes for cooking times. When it reaches a boil, turn it back down to medium-low to simmer.
- Once the soup is simmering, add any fresh or dried herbs to the pot.
- About five minutes before the soup is ready, add in your beans.
- When the beans are heated through, taste the soup and decide if it needs any additional black pepper. I don't usually add any salt at this point, but you can adjust that as well, if needed. Serve with lemon wedges and/or minced parsley.
For brown rice, simmer at least 25 minutes, or until rice is cooked through.
Navy, cannellini, kidney or garbanzo beans all work well in this recipe.
Leftover pasta water or bean/lentil water are great replacements for the 4 cups water. They each add additional flavor and starch to this recipe.
Make this your own by experimenting with flavors your family enjoys. In place of the herbs, some grated ginger and a little pinch of cayenne would be nice, for added flavor and health benefits.
Soups to Keep You Cozy This Fall/Winter
I have tried and loved each and every one of these soups! Check them out and make them yourself. You won’t regret it!
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