Vibrant Veggie Soups for Spring

In Chili & Soup, Recipes by Mark MaskerLeave a Comment

“You can’t eat this soup standing up, your knees buckle.”Jerry Seinfeld
– Jerry, in “The Soup Nazi”

“The guy who runs the place is a little temperamental, especially about the ordering procedure. He’s secretly referred to as the Soup Nazi.”
“Why? What happens if you don’t order right?”
“He yells and you don’t get your soup.”
– Jerry and Elaine, in “The Soup Nazi”

(Thanks to the Seinfeld Quotes site)

March is behind us, with its wind and taxes. Now that we’re solidly into Spring, it’s time to find meals that can be made ahead and heated up after a long day of turning the dirt, planting veggies, and generally cavorting outdoors. And what better solution to the quick-meal quandry than a fantastic bowl of soup? I know what you’re thinking, “soup is for cold weather days.” Au contraire! The recipes we share here represent the best of vegetarian soups: satisfying, light and full of healthy stuff. Serve any of them with some crusty bread, a salad, and your favorite beverage for a rewarding end to your busy day of gardening. Who knows…you may even find your knees buckling with pleasure as you slurp.

Vibrant Vegetable Stock
This stock is good enough to serve as a first course consommé, in addition to using it as a basis for some of the recipes that follow. Baking or caramelizing the vegetables before adding the water gives an additional richness to the stock. If you wish, adding a 1 to 2 inch piece of kombu seaweed will also add a further depth of flavor. This stock will keep for 2 days, covered, in the refrigerator. It can also be frozen; divide it into 2- or 3-cup freezer containers. Feel free to add any vegetable trimmings from the bag in your freezer, but beware of cabbage or broccoli, whose flavors tend to dominate the stock.

Of course, to save time you can use a boxed vegetable broth for these recipes, but the end result won’t be quite the same.

Preparing Vibrant Vegetable Stock. Photo by Sergio Salvador

4 onions, not peeled, cut into eighths
3 large ribs celery, cut into fourths
2 leeks, white part only
1 head garlic
4 carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
2 tablespoons high quality olive oil
3 green onions, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 cup chopped New Mexican green chiles, or more to taste
1/3 cup chopped parsley, including the stems
1/4 cup fresh chopped basil or 2 tablespoons of dried basil
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/2 cup chopped button mushrooms
1/2 cup chopped celery leaves
1 zucchini, peeled and sliced
3 cups coarsely chopped tomatoes
3 quarts cold water
5 whole black peppercorns

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the onions, celery, leeks, garlic, and carrots in a shallow pan and pour the wine over the top. Bake uncovered for 1 1/2 hours.

Heat the oil in a pot and add the caramelized vegetables and the green onions and saute for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the remaining ingredients (except the water and peppercorns) and saute for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the cold water and the peppercorns and bring the mixture to a boil. Then lower the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 2 hours. Remove the cover and simmer for another 30 minutes. Strain the stock through a fine strainer lined with cheesecloth or a coffee filter and salt to taste.

Yield: About 2 1/2 quarts
Heat Scale: Mild

Near-Vegan Minestrone

Near-Vegan Minestrone. Photo by Wes Naman

This minestrone is so vegetarian it’s almost vegan (except for those pesky little orzos)! Serve it with a hamburger (just kidding—make that a veggie burger) or with a side salad and some crusty bread.

2 carrots, chopped
1 small zucchini, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 28-ounce can crushed or diced tomatoes
4 cups Vibrant Vegetable Stock (see recipe)
2 cups tomato juice
2 teaspoons dried basil
1 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 tablespoon New Mexican red chile powder
1/2 cup small orzo pasta
1 15-ounce can kidney beans (optional)
Finely chopped Italian parsley or fresh basil for garnish

In a large pot, sauté the onion, carrots, and zucchini in olive oil for 6 to 8 minutes, until almost soft. Add the remaining ingredients, except for the beans.

Bring the soup bring to a low simmer and cook for at least 20 minutes. Add the beans (if using) and cook for a few more minutes. Serve in individual bowls garnished with the parsley or basil.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Heat Scale: Mild

Snappy Snow Pea Soup. Photo by Wes Naman

Snappy Snow Pea Soup
Here’s a soup that’s fast and easy to make. It depends almost entirely on the flavor of the fresh snow pea, one of nature’s great vegetables. Add firm Japanese silken tofu to make a complete protein soup if you like soybean products. For a complete meal, serve this before a entrée of vegetable tempura.

6 cups Vibrant Vegetable Stock (see recipe)
2 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons minced parsley
2 tablespoons minced garlic
4 tablespoons minced scallion
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 teaspoons ground ginger
4 teaspoons freshly ground white pepper
2 tablespoons chopped watercress
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 cups snow peas cut diagonally
3 lemons, sliced thinly
Asian hot sauce, such as Sriracha, to taste

In a pan, combine the water, sugar, parsley, garlic, scallion, soy sauce, ginger, and pepper and boil for 5 minutes. Add the watercress, cilantro, and snow peas and boil 3 more minutes. Transfer the soup to bowls, add the hot sauce to taste, and float the lemon wheels for garnish.

Yield: 4 servings
Heat Scale: Varies

For more great vegetarian soup recipes, read the full article on the SuperSite here.

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Managing Editor | Mark is a freelance journalist based out of Los Angeles. He’s our Do-It-Yourself specialist, and happily agrees to try pretty much every twisted project we come up with.

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