Comforting Vegetable Soup
A garden of veggies and Italian sausage come together in a bowl of healthy comfort for autumn.
Few dishes can cross cultural lines as beautifully as soup does. It’s a global comfort food, and for me, a warm bowl of broth with herbs and vegetables is like a comforting hug. Soup makes me want to put on fuzzy socks and watch a classic movie.
Everyone has a favorite soup; mine is vegetable, and this comforting recipe—while not authentically Italian—borrows from Italy’s pantry with ingredients such as salsiccia, tomatoes, garlic, oregano and rosemary. It’s hearty enough to stand as a meal on its own, but works well as a first course. And maybe best of all, my Comforting Vegetable Soup comes together in under 90 minutes.
For this recipe you will need:
4 cups (1 32-ounce box) vegetable stock
3 cloves garlic
2 stalks celery
2 yellow potatoes
2 cups chopped kale
1 can white beans
1 large can whole tomatoes
1 (16-ounce) frozen bag mixed vegetables (you’ll use about half)
4 links salsiccia
salt and pepper
Let’s Start Cooking
Chop the onion, garlic and celery for your soup’s base. Add two tablespoons of olive oil to a large stock pot (on medium-high heat) and sweat the veggies. Add potatoes and cook about three minutes.
For the Italian sausage, you can remove the casings before cooking or cut into coin-size bites. Whatever your preference, that’s fine. Sausage is added to the pot and browned. I added the dried oregano at this stage and stirred ingredients before adding the stock, tomatoes, fresh rosemary and the bay leaf. Add salt and pepper to taste. Turn down heat and simmer for about 30-40 minutes.
At this point, I added the kale, beans and frozen mixed vegetables (usually carrots, peas, corn and green beans). I tasted the broth to see if more seasonings were needed, adding more salt and oregano. It simmered about 30-35 additional minutes.
This recipe is similar to my mom’s signature Mormon Soup. She also made a wicked-good three-bean soup, ham and split pea for my dad, creamy potato, beer and cheese soup, broccoli and cheese soup, and Famous-Barr’s French Onion (a must for any St. Louis cook.) Those are at least the ones I can remember.
When I had a cold as a kid, vegetable soup was part of my treatment (that and lots of Vicks Vapor Rub). I’ll bet your mom also served you soup to feel better, which isn’t surprising considering French street vendors sold soup as an anecdote for physical exhaustion during the 16th century. A century later in Paris, an entrepreneur opened a shop specializing in these soups, and behold, the modern restaurant industry was born. If you’d like to know more about the history of soup, I recommend the book, Soup Through the Ages by Victoria R. Rumble, that also includes dozens of recipes.
Nostalgia aside, our moms and grandmothers also understood that in addition to being good for you, soup was one of the most economical dishes they could make. They also knew a pot of soup was a great way to use certain leftovers or any vegetable that had been in the fridge for a while. These practices still work today in our kitchens.
Let’s Talk Swap
And in the spirit of “use what you have,” it’s simple to swap out some of these ingredients to accommodate what’s in your pantry and refrigerator. The most obvious is to leave out the sausage for a tasty soup for Meatless Monday or to serve your vegetarian friends and family.
Other swap ideas include:
Swiss chard or spinach for kale
Small meatballs instead of sausage
Pasta to replace potatoes
Kidney or garbanzo beans for white beans (or leave beans out if you don’t like them)
Can I Freeze Soup?
Almost any soup can be frozen to enjoy later. They exceptions are cream-based soups. Comforting Vegetable Soup is perfect to freeze. Because I usually cook for two people, I reserve about half the soup for the freezer, and I like to divide that portion into single-servings. I like these two-cup bowls from Anchor Hocking because they are safe for the freezer and microwave (even the oven), and they go in the dishwasher for clean up. (Not a sponsored plug; I just like the product.)
Put Comforting Vegetable Soup into your recipe arsenal for fall and winter. Now more than ever, it’s important to keep our immune systems working while feeding our souls at the same time. And drop a comment below to share your favorite soup!