When you’re craving something hearty and nutritious, a simple vegetable soup is a winner. The beautiful thing about soups is that they’re easy to make in large batches, so one cook can end up feeding you multiple times. This vegetable soup can be stored in the fridge for a few days, or frozen and kept for months. Plus, unlike some cheaper cuts of meat, vegetables are quick to cook in a soup because they only take about 15 to 20 mins of simmering to become beautifully tender. By following a few simple tips and tricks, you can elevate your soup game and always be ready to whip up a nourishing meal.
Vegetable soups are so versatile. You can add lentils, kidney beans or chickpeas to bump up the protein, or add pearl barley, pasta or bulgur to get some carbohydrates for energy. These ingredients are not only nutritious, they also add different textures and flavours to the soup.
When it comes to how to cook vegetable soup, it doesn’t always mean adding many different veggies. Sometimes, you may want to highlight the flavour of one or two and build your soup around these star ingredients. The vegetables you select can be guided by what’s in season or what you have in your fridge. If you have a bit more time to spend on prep, you can roast them to bring out the sweet and nutty flavour. In saying that, if you currently have potatoes, carrots, parsnips and broccoli in your fridge that are looking a little sad, there is absolutely no reason why you can’t throw them all into the pot.
Don’t forget to also throw in a herb or two toward the end of the cook to enhance the soup’s aroma. And if you enjoy a bit of zing or bite, add some lemon juice, red wine vinegar, hard cheese or fresh chilli to serve.
To turn this into a vegetable-soup-in-slow-cooker recipe, chop the veggies and sauté the garlic and onion first in a pan. If you prefer making your own stock, this would be the only additional prep step. Then, add your stock, water, vegetables and aromatics into the slow cooker and cook on high for 3 hours, on low for 6 hours, or until the vegetables are tender.
You may wonder if you can vary the times that you add different vegetables into the slow cooker. The answer is yes, you can. A good rule of thumb is to add the more tender vegetables, like zucchini, mushrooms and green beans in the last 1 hour of cooking. Leafy greens like spinach and kale are best to stir in once the soup has finished cooking, so they don’t lose their bright colour.
If you’re adding dried legumes like lentils to this vegetable soup slow cooker recipe, boil them for around 10 to 15 mins before adding them to the first batch of vegetables. Dried pasta takes a shorter time to cook, so add it in the last 45 mins to avoid mushy pasta. When adding ingredients to a slow cooker while it’s running, try to keep it as brief as possible to avoid too much heat loss.
If you prefer not to use store-bought stock, you can make your own. Sure, it takes time, but the payoff is tremendous.
Simmer chicken or beef bones with carrots, onions, garlic and celery, along with herbs like thyme, bay leaves, peppercorns and parsley. As it simmers, skim off any residue along the top, and add water as needed so the bones are always covered. To make a vegetable stock, simply leave out the bones.
Make this humble vegetable soup recipe one of your go-to recipes for a warming and satisfying meal. For other delicious meatless soup recipes, check out the green minestrone, curried green veggie soup, roasted tomato and bean soup, ratatouille soup with cheese tortellini and speedy sweet potato and silverbeet soup. See how other cultures get creative and bold with their soup making in these recipes for French Onion Soup, Stroganoff Soup and Italian-Style Bread Soup. For a step-by-step guide on making chicken stock, look no further than this Homemade Chicken Stock Recipe.