Jan 08 2013

Fast Food My Way: Homemade Vegetable Soup in Less Time Than It Takes to Shovel the Drive

Whatever your complaint—a bad cold, the flu, or just one dark winter day too many—soup is good for what ails you. But soup-making has now become a black art practiced only by a coterie of cognoscenti, something far beyond the reach of ordinary mortals. That’s what the Mad Men in marketing would like you to think, anyway.

To which I reply: Piffle. Making soup from scratch is no harder than shoveling the drive, and it won’t take any longer. So before you grab a can off the shelf, give this recipe a try. It will put a steaming pot of vegetable soup on your table in less than 30 minutes.

  • 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 32-ounce container of broth (vegetable, chicken, or beef—cook’s choice)
  • Medium-sized potato (any variety), diced small
  • Small onion diced fine, or a few green onions, sliced fine
  • 2 full-sized carrots or a handful of “baby” carrots, grated or chopped very thin
  • 1 large stick of celery or 2 smaller sticks, chopped thin
  • A small handful of chopped greens—spinach, chard, escarole, or parsley (optional)
  • 1 cup frozen peas, corn, baby lima beans, or mixed vegetables (mix and match)
  • Salt and ground pepper to taste

The most time-consuming part of the job is the prep work. Empty the tomatoes into a large pot, then rinse the can with cold water (about half a can’s worth) and add the rinsings to the pot. Now add the broth and place the pot on a burner with the heat turned up high. While the broth and tomatoes are heating, cut up the potatoes, onion, carrots, and celery, adding them to the pot as you go along. I don’t bother peeling the potato and carrot—the peel adds fiber and micronutrients—but you can do so if you want. In any case, don’t agonize over the slicing, dicing, and chopping. You’re not being graded on appearances, though thin slices and smaller dices will cook faster.

Once the pot begins to boil, cover (leaving the lid slightly ajar) and reduce the heat. Simmer for around 15 minutes, checking now and then to be sure the pot isn’t boiling over. When the vegetables are tender, turn off the heat, add the chopped greens (if you’re using them) and the frozen vegetables. (There’s no need to thaw the frozen veggies beforehand.) Now season to taste and serve.

This recipe will fill four large bowls to overflowing. If that’s more than you need, just store the leftover soup in an air-tight container in the fridge or freezer. Reheat when wanted.


Soup is good for whatever ails you. And homemade soup is better than store-bought. So what’s stopping you? You can be shouting “Soup’s on!” in just 30 minutes.

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