I rarely use a recipe for anything in general, and soup is no exception. I just feel like soups and stews turn out so much better on the fly (I think there’s a joke somewhere in there about a fly in my soup but it’s late and my brain’s not quite getting there).
So, while I’m not exactly posting the recipe per se, I’ll kinda give you guys a quick ‘n’ dirty rundown on how my toothsome soup came to be.
In a big pot on medium heat, I sautéed half an onion in a generous splash of olive oil until the onion was soft and translucent.
I threw in 2 carrots, 4 stalks of celery and a sweet potato - all coarsely chopped. (Honestly though, you could probably use whatever veggies tickle your fancy! I just used what I happened to have on hand at that moment.)
Then, I stirred in the star of the show - about 3 finely minced tablespoons of the beautiful fresh oregano I was given yesterday. I also added a couple of pinches of dried thyme and black pepper and let the works mingle together for about 5 minutes, nudging it around with my wooden spoon occasionally.
When the soup came to a rolling boil, I added a small spoonful of bouillon and just over half a cup of a dry bean medley - I think it was comprised of lentils, split peas, barley, black eyed peas, mung beans and a couple of others I couldn’t name - and then I turned the heat down to a simmer. I put the lid on the pot and let it all cook for about an hour, stirring occasionally.
About 5 minutes before the soup was ready to serve, I threw in some tiny star pasta (Maya’s request).
When the pasta was just shy of al dente, I turned off the heat and tossed in some frozen peas. I like to add frozen peas at literally the last minute of cooking; that way they stay bright and green and they only take about 60 seconds to cook through.
I generously ladled the vegetable bean soup into big bowls and served it with a basket of homemade crusty french bread.
You guys, the soup was nothing short of absolutely fantastic. I could hear everyone quietly “mmm-ing” under their breath with every bite. Even Maya cleaned her bowl, and if you’ve met my child IRL, you know that finishing her dinner is not part of her usual repertoire. I gotta tell ya: There is something so magical about homemade soup stock. The flavor is so rich, full and earthy. So much better than the metallic tasting store-bought stuff.
What a delicious dinner. I am “souper” excited for leftovers tomorrow!
And the best part? The whole pot of soup (probably about 6-8 large servings) cost less than $3. That works out to about $1.50 to feed my whole family a delicious, nutritious meal that we all truly enjoyed.
I’m pretty sure dinner doesn’t get any better than that!
Well, I hope you’re sitting down right now. Brace yourself, because I’m about to blow your mind.
I’m gonna show you how you can eat infinite amounts of practically free soup. I see you sitting there, looking at your computer screen with distrust. You’re skeptical. You can’t believe what you’re reading. Your dubiousness is palpable. I can feel it.
But let me ask you this: WOULD I LIE TO YOU?
Okay, wait. Hold up. This post is off to an awkward start. Let me go back and try this again.
A few weeks ago, my friend Cristin shared a hot tip with me that completely rocked my soup-lovin’ world. She told me how to make delicious vegetable stock practically for free. Here’s how:
Step 1: Put a large ziplock bag (or other large freezer-safe container) in your freezer.
Step 2: Every time you have any - and I mean any - vegetable scraps, you put that junk in the bag. The best vegetable scraps are carrot tops and peelings, potato/sweet potato peelings, onion/garlic tops and skins, mushroom stems, pepper cores, bean ends, broccoli stems, cabbage hearts, etc. [DO NOT USE: leafy greens such as kale, spinach, collards, chard, lettuce, etc., or celery because there is something about the freezing process that turns these veggies bitter and yucky when they’re made into soup. Don’t ask, just trust. I’m trying to help you here.]
Step 3: Once that bag is full, throw those frozen veggie scraps into a big ol’ soup pot.
Step 4: Cover the works with water. I like to use filtered water for this.
Step 5: Simmer down now. On low. For a couple of hours or until the stock gets nice and dark.
Step 6: Strain the stock through a colander to remove the big pieces of veggies. Then, if you like your stock nice and clear and perfect, strain it again through a tea strainer (or any mesh strainer) to catch the smaller pieces. This second strain is optional but I think it makes the stock better.
Step 7: Salt and season to taste.
Step 8: Rejoice! You have just made vegetable stock. And it was practically free!*
*You would have likely tossed or composted those veggie scraps anyway, so it’s like making soup stock out of free garbage.**
**Okay, maybe I shouldn’t have used the word “garbage” when describing yummy soup stock, but just go with it.
You need to do this. You need to make this stock. And hey - worst case scenario - it turns out horribly and you hate it? No biggie! The only thing you will have wasted is some scraps you would have thrown out anyway, plus a little water. But I don’t think you’ll hate it. In fact, I’m pretty sure you’ll like it. And I bet you’ll like it so much, you’ll use it to flavor some rice or beans or potatoes, or even make a huge pot of fabulous homemade vegetable noodle soup, like I did this afternoon. Plus I’ve got two additional large containers of stock to freeze for another day.
Now here’s where I’m really gonna blow your mind: When I made vegetable soup out of the vegetable stock today, I chopped up some carrots, onions, potatoes, mushrooms, garlic and can you guess where I’m going with this? Yup, all those peelings, tops and stems went into my newly emptied stock bag and thus the process has begun again. It’s the never ending soup stock. The stock that just wouldn’t quit. It’s soupendous.*** And quite frankly, this whole business counts as a miracle in my book.