Soup is soothing. Soup is savory. Soup is so easy to make from scratch that I almost never buy it canned or frozen. And when the winter winds begin to blow, I love to make soup and have the smell of the mixed veggies cooking on the stove permeate our apartment. Soup becomes a one-dish meal to enjoy!
Soup is actually a great way to “eat your veggies,” because they simmer in a broth with herbs and spices that make them appealing. Thus, you can enjoy a savory blend of flavors and know that you are also getting good nutrition.
I usually make my own soup stock from the tops, stems and leaves of organic produce that I buy for stir fries, salads and main dishes. When I buy parsley or dill, I cut off the stems and place them in the freezer for future stock. I then use my fresh herbs in the recipes for that week. If I have leftover herbs from a recipe, I add them to the stock.
I put the broccoli stems, cauliflower cores, carrot greens, etc., in the freezer and when the bag is big enough, I add carrots, parsnips, dill, etc., and simmer it for 2 or 3 hours on the stove. Then I have soup stock as well as a flavorful broth for my rice and quinoa dishes — an ecological and economical way to enjoy soups, stews and other dishes.
Below is a recipe for my vegetarian soup stock, which varies according to the season and what is in my refrigerator and freezer. I also use miso, an Asian food made from fermented soybeans into a concentrated paste that adds flavor to soups and stews when I don’t have soup stock ready.
These soup recipes are simple to make and simply perfect for cold, winter nights coupled with salad, crusty bread or crispy crackers spread with almond butter. All recipes are pareve and gluten free.
Homemade Soup Stock
4-5 quarts water
Any or all of the following: garlic cloves, peeled; green parts of leeks, sliced lengthwise and washed of all sand; carrot greens, plus one or two carrots; celery tops with leaves; core from cabbage; cauliflower leaves and core; lower stems from broccoli; snapped-off stems from asparagus; beet greens, especially yellow beet greens for a golden soup color (I sometimes put a whole beet in the soup for a richer golden color, and then eat the beet)
1 sweet or white potato (optional)
herbs of choice on hand, such as parsley
I never have all of these on hand — I am giving you a long list so you can see that almost anything works. You could add parsnips, turnips greens, jicama, radishes, etc. What you have is what you use!
Wash all the veggies and herbs well to be sure there is no sand or dirt from the stems or in the leaves.
Cut or slice veggies into smaller pieces and place in a large pot of water with 2 or 3 peeled garlic cloves.
Bring the water to a boil, then simmer and allow to cook for at least one hour, preferably two.
After one or two hours, remove all the veggies, except carrots and perhaps the potatoes.
Cool the strained broth. I often transfer the broth to a new pot that is not hot and place it in the refrigerator. Then, when I can handle the soup, I pour the broth into jars and place back in the refrigerator. I slice the potatoes and carrots to be used in the next soup or dish, if needed.
Note: You can use this broth, minus the carrot and potato, not only for soup, but also for making any grain or bean dish, which will give added flavor as well as a nutritious boost to your dishes.
According to the Bible, Esau sold his birthright to his brother Jacob for a bowl of red lentils: “In Genesis, Esau returns to his twin brother Jacob, famished from the fields. He begs Jacob to give him some ‘red pottage’ (a play on his nickname, Hebrew: Edom, meaning “red”). Jacob offers Esau a bowl of stew in exchange for Esau’s birthright (the right to be recognized as firstborn with authority over the family), and Esau agrees. Thus, Jacob bought/exchanged Esau’s birthright. This is believed to be the origin of the English phrase “for a mess of pottage.”
4 cups soup stock (more for a thinner consistency)
2 cups organic red lentils, rinsed (they will turn yellow when cooked)
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1 carrot, scrubbed and sliced
salt and pepper to taste (or herbs of your choice or miso*)
Place all the ingredients in a large stock pot. Bring to a boil and lower to simmer.
Cook until tender, about 45 minutes. Puree using an immersion blender or leave as is for a stew consistency.
Garnish with parsley or dill before serving, if desired.
In keeping with the Bible version, I did not puree this, but that is an option, using an immersion blender. The version here is very thick, like a stew. Add more liquid for the soup version and puree.
*Mellow miso is a mild flavored soybean paste that adds richness to the soup. Blend 1 tablespoon in a small amount of water or stock and return to finished soup.
Variation: If you make this dish with Indian curry, you can serve it over rice for a different type of meal.
Because carrots, onions and garlic are part of the recipe, you don’t have to use stock. Just add some salt and pepper to taste while cooking or use 1 to 2 tablespoons mellow miso mixed with hot water or natural soy sauce to taste.
1 large yellow onion, sliced into rings
1-2 garlic cloves, chopped
3-4 scrubbed carrots, sliced into 1⁄2-inch circles
6 small potatoes, scrubbed and quartered
3-4 stalks of celery, scrubbed and chopped
8 cups pure water or soup stock
fresh parsley sprigs (or dried)
1 bay leaf
oil for sautéing
spices of your choice: thyme, oregano, sage, etc.
Add the onions, garlic, carrots, potatoes and celery to 4 cups of water or stock.
Bring veggies to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and add the other 4 cups of water or stock. Add herbs to taste and then simmer until vegetables are tender, about 1 hour.
Add salt and pepper — or miso dissolved in water or soy sauce — to taste. Simmer a few more minutes and serve.
Options: To make this a meal in a pot, I would cook a cup of rice, kasha or quinoa in a separate pot and add to the soup at the end to make it heartier.
Sweet Potato/Parsnip Soup
This simple soup is hearty and sweet or savory, depending on the spices or herbal additions. One recipe makes two flavorful soups.
2-3 scrubbed and baked sweet potatoes
2 scrubbed parsnips, cooked in water, about 1 cup
2-3 cups soup stock
cinnamon and nutmeg or other savory herbs
Peel the baked sweet potatoes and cooked parsnips and place in a blender.
Start with 2 to 3 cups of stock and puree, adding more liquid for a thinner consistency.
Divide the soup in half. Add cinnamon and nutmeg to taste to one half, and herbs such as oregano, thyme, etc., to the other half.
Ellen Sue Spicer-Jacobson is a freelance writer and natural foods cook. See her website, www.menupause.info , for more recipes and her cookbooks.