What You Learn Making Vegetable Soup (+ Turkey Meatballs!)

by Nov 7, 2018

Wilted chard and once vibrant dragon tongue beans were giving me the guilties each morning as I pushed them aside to find my almond milk.  Night after night I was just too tired to think about how to make them into dinner.  And then I remembered Rainbow Soup!

When my kids were little, sometimes we made dinner together, one on each side of me, standing on stools to reach the counter.  For soup, we’d make mounds of colorful veggies then take turns dropping them into the pot.  Somehow, as the years went by, I had forgotten how much fun it is to make veggie soup.   Fun and you learn something.  Which is one of the reasons I like cooking so much.

Here’s what I learned from making vegetable soup:

  1. Soup helps reduce food waste.  Get those veggies out of the fridge where you can see them and use them up!
  2. Soup is more relaxing than take out (sometimes).   On nights I’m tempted to get take out because I’ve had a busy day, sometimes staying put and cooking with what I have on hand is more satisfying in every way.  (But then there are the nights where we’re all tired but there’s still the band concert…on those nights, take out rules!)
  3. Soup means you get bread for dinner!  I especially love bringing home a loaf from our local bakery, Wild Crumb.  Bread for dinner with a bunch of veggies…now that’s my kind of healthy.

If you want to add some extra protein to the meal, below is a simple recipe for turkey meatballs.  I try to keep a chub of ground turkey in the freezer so that I always have an option for feeding the boy (meat lover).  It can defrost in a matter of minutes – just set it in a bowl of warm water and get on with your veggie chopping.

Vegetable Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced or half-rounds
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil or avocado oil
  • 14.5 ounce can tomatoes, chopped
  • 4 cups chicken broth Imagine brand is good
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 3 zucchini, diced or half-rounds
  • 1 small handful green beans, stem ends removed and snapped into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 small potato, peeled and diced to 1/2-inch

Instructions

  1. In a large stock pot, heat the oil on medium heat then add the onion, carrot, and celery and cook until softened, about 10 minutes.

  2. Add the tomatoes and cook a couple minutes to concentrate the tomato juices. Then add the chicken stock, water, salt, oregano, zucchini, green beans and potato. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes until potatoes are fork tender.  If you want to add the meatballs, do so after you bring the soup to a boil and before you start the 20 minutes simmer.

Recipe Notes / Tips

  • Vegetable soup is very forgiving, so substitute with what you have.  I think about four complementary categories when I make a soup:  
    • Onions (any kind is fine, yellow, red, white, or leeks, shallots, green garlic, anything allium)
    • Greens (chard, kale or lighter greens like escarole, even spinach...just minimize the cooking on the tender ones like spinach)
    • Root Veggies (anything goes:  parsnips, rutabaga, turnip, carrots, potato, celery root...I don't like beets in soup so I save those for roasting)
    • Something fresh and crisp (fresh shelling beans, kohlrabi, peas, celery, zucchini or other summer squash)
    • Tomato of some sort, not a lot or you end up with tomato soup (fresh chopped, canned, a couple tablespoons tomato paste)
  • Extras make it better:  shredded parmesan, olive oil, flaky sea salt, meatballs, bread or croutons
  • I keep a box of  bouillon cubes in my pantry as back up for when I don't have broth on hand.  It's so easy to dissolve in hot water and get on with a recipe.  I prefer brands Edward & Sons and Rapunzel.  Taste for yourself and see what you like.  (Low sodium and I don't adjust the salt in a recipe.  Higher sodium, I taste and might reduce the amount of added salt.)

Turkey Meatballs

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 1 piece whole wheat bread, crumbled into pieces
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • optional: 2 Tbsp. parsley, finely minced
  • optional: 2 Tbsp. grated parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. In medium bowl, mix egg and salt with fork. Add remaining ingredients and mix with fork until combined.

  2. Using a 2 tablespoon cookie scoop (or by portioning that amount into your hand and rolling into a ball), scoop the meat mixture and either 1) drop into simmering soup and simmer 20 minutes or 2) place on a sheet pan and bake 425°F 15-20 minutes.


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