The time between mid-October and mid-April is soup season at my home. Sometimes, these soups are elaborate and I will only make them on weekends. Like pumpkin soup. But during the week, especially on evenings on which I do not feel like doing anything time-intensive (or would rather not cook at all) or on cold days on which I need a quick boost of comfort, I will resort to my favorite soup: a simple vegetable soup featuring ingredients that always have in my pantry/fridge. I call this Spring Awakening Vegetable Soup (even though the name is not particularly accurate) and have been making it for years. You need about seven minutes and you’ve got a delicious meal with lots of nutritional value.
All you need is water, some broth, an onion, a potato, a carrot, a zucchini, half a small can of corn, a handful of quinoa, red or yellow lentils and tiny gluten-free noodles and some fresh herbs. And peas (if you happen to have some) are also great. I always have a bit of soup seasoning in my freezer. It’s cut up parsley, celery, onions, other herbs – you get the idea! It gives the soup a great burst in terms of flavor.
To make this soup, put about 500 ml of water (that’s half a liter) onto your stove, peel the onion, quarter it and place into the water. Add broth. Wash the carrots and cut into small pieces or slices. Peel and wash the potato, cut into small-ish pieces and throw into the soup. Add the corn, the quinoa and the lentils as well as the noodles. Finally, wash the zucchini and quarter it length-wise and then cut into slices. Let boil for about four minutes, add the peas toward the end and season with a good handful of chopped parsley. You want the vegetables to be cooked, but still fresh and al dente. This recipe makes about three medium bowls of soup. Just enough if you ask me.
This soup is incredibly versatile, and could also pass as stew. I sometimes make it with cauliflower, green beans or broccoli, but then omit the zucchini. Sometimes I add half a medium can of chickpeas (or fresh if I happen to have them), sometimes I leave out the quinoa and the legumes as well as the noodles and puree the soup. When it’s pureed, I eat each bowl of soup with a generous chug of yoghurt. I have also pureed the soup in part and added two tablespoons of whipping cream. Voilà spring awakening vegetable cream soup! You can make hot variations of it, by including some red pepper powder or use this soup as a base for vegetable stock (without the legumes, the quinoa and the noodles).
The reason I am posting this recipe, even though it’s such a simple one, is that I’ve been eating this soup and variations of it several times a week throughout January. It’s spectacular for a quick meal. This soup has great nutritional value, it’s very filling, it will heat you up and the broth is simply delicious, bursting with gentle flavor from the fresh vegetables.
Plus, my posts as of late have not been leaving anyone with the impression that I’m a particular healthy eater. I heard the term “grilled-cheese-sandwich-vegetarian” the other day (not in reference to me, just in general) and it kind of struck me. It’s really important to me that those of you who follow this blog know and understand that eating vegetarian and gluten-free can be both healthy and more importantly that it does not require a huge operation or tons of skill. Yes, it does get annoying to cook so many meals at home, but you don’t have to intricately play out a recipe in your kitchen out after hours of planning, following up on a shopping list that required you to visit five different stores every! single! time! you! cook! or! eat! You can also opt to eat healthy and at home without being elaborate. Ever!
Eating healthy and cooking meals at home does not have to entail a huge pile of dishes. Sometimes simply throwing a few ingredients into a pot of water and eating your meal straight out of the pot can be fantastic. I don’t really eat meals straight out of a pot, but I know people who do, and if throwing your manners overboard in the comfort of your own home is what it takes for your internal decision-making process to opt in favor of a rich soup full of vegetables instead of ordering out pizza for the third consecutive night, then please: go ahead.
What I am trying to say: truly great meals are those meals that we prepare often, meals that we can rely on every single time we make them. Life is so busy and ever-changing that it’s truly comforting to eat something simple, down-to-earth and perhaps a little boring. Making them for the first time can obviously be exciting and new, but once you have established a routine and learn how to work with what you happen to have at home, it’s a no-brainer.Great dishes do not have to be spectacular and complicated. Just like this soup.