Nourishing Vegetable Soup

I love vegetable soup. It is immensely comforting and calming. It is so much more than the sum of its ingredients - it is a warming and nourishing hug for the digestion. It is also the thriftiest meal of the week.

How to Make Nourishing Vegetable Soup:

First, persuade someone else to cut up the onion while you wander into the vegetable patch to pick celery leaves (celery is a notoriously difficult vegetable to grow if you want it to look like the celery at the greengrocers. It demands continuous water and nourishment, but never fear, grow it unsuccessfully anyway and cut its wonderfully salty and mineral-rich leaves for all your soups and stews, and buy stems of celery from the greengrocer for your salads..).

Once your onion minion has rushed out of the kitchen to find a handkerchief to stem her tears, it is safe to return and rummage through the vegie bin. I like to use ghee to cook onions, as it has all the goodness and flavour of butter, without butter's annoying tendency to burn. Cook the onions slowly and tenderly while you discover what else there is to throw in the pot. Tonight I found three small wrinkly potatoes, two limp carrots, a small and only very slightly mouldy piece of pumpkin, and half a packet of baby spinach that Rosy-the-spinach-fiend refused to eat, because it was from the farmer's market, and didn't look like supermarket spinach.. of course the secret to vegetable soup is that there is no secret. It is a glorious melding of whatever 'needs eating up'.

I chopped all of this 'seen better days' veg up and popped it on top of the onions along with several cups of vegetable stock and two handfuls of red lentils. Actually, if there is a secret to vegetable soup, it is red lentils. These boil down to an indistinguishable mush and give the soup its thick and hearty rustic nature. It all bubbled away for half an hour and then we ate it. We didn't have any bread, so we had crackers instead. I just had more soup. And there is some for lunch tomorrow. Life is good.

Here is an update on my campaign to avoid the supermarkets - well, turns out, shopping locally requires forward planning. This is not my strong suit. I ALWAYS discover that there is no milk at about half past seven at night when there are no local shops open. That is also the time that Posy remembers she needs a block of chocolate to make truffles for her teachers for Christmas, and the cats realise that they have run out of cat food (those cats really need to get their act together). That is when I sigh deeply and take the dog and slink out to Coles. Again. I have had to do this at least once a week since I swore to avoid the evil supermarkets forever.. However, in the spirit of not letting the perfect be the enemy of the good, I am celebrating the huge, vast majority of our food that is coming from local sources. I am finding new and interesting treasures every week. I am trying to remember that the butcher down the hill opens Wed to Sat, and that the greengrocer stocks milk and is open until 6.30. I discovered that a local company makes the best tortillas I have ever eaten, and that none of us will actually die if there is no milk in the house, because herbal tea is actually a thing. And you never know, I might even learn to plan ahead.


fran7narf said…
We took a leaf out of your book and have been eating very simply this week. It's amazing how delicious creatively "encouraged" leftovers can be with a bit of care and attention. We make huge vats of vegetable soup as they are perfect to haul out of the freezer when you are gobsmackingly exhausted after a hard days graft down the Gulag mines. Ours are tucked away in the freezer for future use. We learned to plan well as we are 50km out of the city. We no longer need meat so the supermarket is being slowly phased out and David's shop is becoming our new supermarket sub. Could you please let me know who makes local tortillas? I had no idea you could buy them fresh in Launceston and would love to know where. Have an excellent Christmas Jo. You have certainly earned a lovely day at the tail end of what has been a truly trying year for almost everyone that I know.
Jo said…
Fran, love the phrase 'creatively encouraged leftovers'!
We found Panchos tortillas (possibly connected to the Tacos de Pancho food van?) at Norwood IGA. They are fantastically delicious and made in Hillwood. May be other outlets, but I couldn't find them on-line..
Linda said…
Veggie soup is always great - tasty and satisfying and good to be able to polish the halo too - using up those old sad veggies makes you feel so virtuous! Happy Christmas to you and yours.
Anonymous said…
Thank you for the great tip about red lentils!! I knew that once but forgot... :)
Jo said…
Linda, I do feel virtuous, also relieved when it comes time to make lunch in the morning and I get to take a pot of soup to work instead of schlepping around making salad.
And wishing you a very lovely Christmas too:)

Anonymous, love those red lentils! I throw them in all sorts of sneaky places, including spaghetti bolognese and no-one notices..
Anonymous said…
I hope you and yours enjoys the holidays. Thank you for the inspiration during this and previous years (I even disconnected the tv and it didn't hurt a bit - very liberating actually). I look forward to more of your beautifully written and meaningful posts.
Regards, Specks
Jo said…
Specks, thank you:) I am so excited for you re the telly. What I love is the silent nights..
Linda said…
Hello again. Your veggie soup inspired me to use up some veggies in the salad drawer and a plastic tub of leftover cooked veggies I had put in the freezer. I added some split red lentils ( also languishing in the larder) and a shake of dried chili flakes. Lunch for te two of us yesterday and again today and one more portion for my husband tomorrow. I also managed to use some bread buns that needed using from the freezer.
Jo said…
Linda, isn't it satisfying to use up leftovers! Chili flakes! That is a keeper of an idea, thanks:)
GretchenJoanna said…
It is precisely the head of celery that starts to wilt in the fridge which often forces me to put together a pot of soup. I find so many things to add that I end up with eight quarts, but that is how I like it: plenty to freeze. I can then take it out in pints or quarts and use it as is or as a base for a soup that morphs into something fancy or un-vegan. Vegetable soup is the best!

As the Mock Turtle sings:

Beautiful Soup so rich So green,
Waiting in a hot tureen
Who for such dainties would not stoop.

Soup of the evening
Beautiful Soup,
Soup of the evening,
Beautiful Soup....
Anonymous said…
Too hot in summer here for veggie soup. And my men wouldn't look at it with the same glee icwould. But I will make some in autumn for lunch. It will be just the thing for a week at work. Didn't think about the red lentils!!

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