As the days get shorter and the nights chillier, nothing is more satisfying than a bowl of warming soup. Made with homemade vegetable broth and packed with all kinds of veggies, this healthy vegetable soup might become your new family favorite!
I absolutely adore soups this time of the year. I tend to eat a lot of raw food in the spring and summer. But once the cold season starts, I start craving more warming foods. So, instead of having cooling, light salads for lunch, I switch over to soothing soups. I might still have the occasional salad (and smoothies), but I tend to gravitate towards cooked foods.
I eat this vegetable soup without anything on the side. Tanner usually needs a bit more substance, so he enjoys it with a sandwich or grilled cheese (which I never make for him, so it’s usually just a sandwich). My 3-year old is convinced that soup is a great dip, so she has it with crackers or a piece of bread. She also refuses to eat hot soup, so she always throws in a couple of ice cubes for good measure. Weird? I certainly think so!
Anyway, after a season of making soups with summer produce, my family was thankful for a soup change. A change that still relies on seasonal veggies and nourishing homemade broth from veggie scraps, but tastes completely different.
Tips for Making Vegetable Soup
Once you’ve got a good broth, your soup is essentially made. All it takes for a good vegetable soup is to simmer vegetables in it until they’re cooked. I went back to my mirepoix mix – onions, carrots, and celery – along with some tomatoes and sweet potatoes. However, you can use any vegetables you like. If you’re making vegetable soup in the spring or summer, feel free to incorporate spring/summer produce – asparagus, green peas, leafy greens, summer squashes …
The one ingredient that was very intentional on my part were the potatoes (you can use sweet or regular). Potatoes are very high in starch. As the potatoes cook, they release starch, naturally thickening the soup into a rich hearty broth.
I always start my vegetable soup by sweating out the onions in the oil first. Then I add some of the other aromatics (garlic and spices), and finally the other vegetables and liquid. There is no shortcut to good flavor! Some vegetables, such as carrots, celery, and potatoes can work just fine added directly to simmering soups. Aromatic vegetables (onions, garlic, leeks, etc.), on the other hand, almost always need a brief sweat in a fat-based liquid before adding the remaining ingredients.
If you sweat the aromatics first, you’ll notice that your soup has a mellower, more balanced aroma, and a slightly sweeter flavor. The soup will taste smoother and more integrated. This is because heat increases the rate of reactions that occur when aromatic compounds combine with each other in the pot. The most prominent example is an onion. Have you ever noticed that when you cut it open, it has barely any aroma? It’s only after a few chemicals inside the onion cells are combined that the familiar sulfurous, pungent aroma begins to form. Heating these compounds will cause them to continue to convert to different, less pungent ones, and eventually an onion will soften into a mellow sweetness.
So what if you just put onions into a pot with hot water? Well, you would be limited to a maximum temperature of 212°F (100°C). This is too low for some of these specific reactions to take place (most famously the Maillard browning reactions). In a pot with oil, on the other hand, you have the ability to heat your vegetables to a higher temperature.
Tools You’ll Need
1. Cookware Set (Calphalon, Stainless Steel) | 2. Knife Set (6 Pieces, Utopia, Stainless Steel) | 3.Cutting Board (24″x 18″, Michigan Maple Block. Maple) | 4. Measuring Cup (4 Cups, Pyrex, Glass) | 5. Measuring Spoons (Set of 6, 1Easylife, Stainless Steel)
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- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 1 cup V8 juice*
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tomatoes
- 3 carrots, chopped
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 1 ear corn (optional)
- 1/2 large sweet potato
- 1 tsp. dried basil
- 1 tsp. minced onion
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- 1 tsp. smoked paprika
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
- 1/4 tsp. black pepper
- salt, to taste
- fresh parsley, for garnish
- Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat, Add the onion and garlic and sauté until translucent, about 3-5 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes and spices/herbs. Stir well and keep sauteing until most of the liquid from the tomatoes has evaporated and the spices are fragrant, about 5 minutes.
- Add the carrots, celery, corn (optional), and sweet potato. Stir and add the vegetable broth and V8 juice, Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to a simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are completely tender and beginning to fall apart, about 25 minutes.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately. Garnish with some fresh parsley.
- Store leftover soup covered in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. For longer term storage, freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months. The easiest way to reheat frozen soup is to remove it from the freezer and place it in the refrigerator 24 hours before reheating to thaw slightly. Reheat on a stovetop, adding extra 1/4 cup (60 ml) water/broth at a time if too thick.