Souper Tuesday: Vegetable Soup (and more)

How is it already Tuesday again?

I’m glad it is, because that means it’s Souper Tuesday, and that forces me to figure out in advance what I’m making for dinner tonight.

However, I’m currently having trouble putting a sentence together, much less making dinner plans. Noah is sitting at my feet, supposedly working on a puzzle, but seemingly more interested in working out a song compromised entirely of whining noises.

“Uuuuggggh. Aaaaahhhh. Mmmmmm. Somebody heeeelllp meeee! Maaaa-oooom!”

No doubt, preparing dinner is becoming increasingly challenging. Yesterday I had lofty plans to make a spinach and eggplant lasagna. I’d bought an eggplant with the intention of making my standby eggplant parmesan, but I also had spinach that was approaching its expiration date in the fridge.

I looked around online and found this recipe. It’s a pretty easy recipe, but you know, it’s lasagna, so there is some work involved. By the time I stuck it in the oven, and got my shoes on to take the kids outside, Rory had fallen off a chair, pinched his finger in a door and destroyed a section of Noah’s puzzle, triggering screams of of “Mom! Rory! No! Rory! No! Mom! Moooooommmm!”

But it was worth the work: after turning their noses up to my spaghetti squash dish the night before (and really, I don’t blame them; every fall I vow to never cook it again, and then get spaghetti squash amnesia the following year), they each ate three servings of the lasagna. I loved it, too. The flavors were just right (for what it’s worth, I used Newman’s Own Fire Roasted Garlic and Tomato pasta sauce). And when you spend all that time at the table, you get conversations like this:

Noah, having just recited “Fuzzy Wuzzy Was a Bear”: Mom, was Fuzzy Wuzzy fuzzy?

Me: “Well, what did it say in the song?”

“Yes, he was.”

“Actually, it said he didn’t have any hair.”

“Oh. Was Fuzzy Wuzzy aware?”

“Like, aware of his surroundings?”

“Yeah. Like aware of his friend hare.”

“Uh, probably.”

“Mom, do people get eaten by bears?”

“Yes, sometimes.”

“I wonder what they see in the bear’s tummy.”

“Good question.”

“I hope I get eaten by a bear sometime so I can go exploring.”

“I really hope you don’t.”

“Why?”

“Well, people don’t come back from exploring a bear’s tummy.”

“Oh. (Pause.) When I’m a grownup and you die, I’m going to move to the city and live on the top floor of a skyscraper. Then I’m going to move to a farm.”

“Ok, that sounds good.”

“Actually, I’ll move to the city when you are 96, because I’m going to need you to help me move.”

So tonight, soup. I still have a menagerie of vegetables waiting to be used up, and there’s no better place for them then my favorite vegetable soup, courtesy of the May 2006 issue of Real Simple. It’s an example of how sometimes the most basic things can be the yummiest. Vegetable soup is great because it’s so flexible. You can throw in whatever vegetables you have, and really can’t go wrong. And I feel so healthy after eating it. It’s like baptismal water absolving me of the 5 mini candy bars I ate during Rory’s nap.

I’m hoping this soup is as much of a hit as the lasagna, but it includes green beans, so I know I’m taking a risk. I might also add some canned beans for a protein boost.

Classy picture of a picture from Real Simple.

Vegetable Soup
2 T. olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
3 14.5 oz vegetable broth (the original recipe calls for low-sodium chicken broth)
1/2 lb. Yukon gold potatoes (peeled, if desired), cut into 1-inch chunks
1 T. fresh thyme leaves or 1 t. dried thyme
1/2 t. kosher salt
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
1/4 lb. green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 c. chopped broccoli
Grated parmesan (optional)
1 baguette, sliced and toasted (optional)

Heat the oil in a large saucepan or stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrots and celery and cook until softened but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add the broth, 1 c. water, the potatoes, thyme and salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover partially, and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the tomatoes, green beans and broccoli, return to a simmer, and cook until the vegetables are tender, 5 to 10 minutes. Ladle the soup into bowls, top with parmesan (if using). Serve with toasted baguette slices (or whatever bread you’ve got). Makes 4 servings.