Who the heck wants soup in the middle of August? I know, we're in a heat wave, you gotta be kidding me. But check it out. I used to live on this soup. This is so awesome for the bachelor on a budget! Shortly after college, I was working for a big brokerage company that you have heard of, and right next door to our office there was this great rotisserie chicken/wraps/salads place. It was all very good, but they had this vegetable soup that kept me coming back.
I used to go there two or three days a week, sometimes just getting a large vegetable soup. Only problem was that they would charge like almost four bucks just for the lousy soup. So one day, staring into my soup, I thought, "I can make this. Probably better. Definitely cheaper."
It was a light tomato/vegetable based broth with a variety of vegetables, a small amount of orzo and red potatoes. So, here was how I went about it.
The first time I made it I started with fresh tomatoes, boiled them lightly to remove the skin, and added some chopped carrots, celery, zucchini, and potatoes. I didn't have any orzo, so I used brown rice. Well, the tomatoes were a lot of work, and I just garlic salt and peppered the "broth" until it was palatable. It wasn't terrible. But that's about all I can say. Well, that and it was cheap. Like six bucks for a rather large pot of soup.
It has undergone many alterations, but here is ultimately what I usually go with:
4-5 carrots, peeled and chopped (not too small, but to your liking)
4-5 stalks of celery, chopped (same size as your carrots)
1 medium chopped brown onion
3-4 red potatoes (optional, or more if you like. I no longer add this)
2 large cans of diced, no salt added, tomatoes (yea, I gave up on the fresh tomatoes)
2 medium sized zucchinis (other types of squash would also work)
Half a bag of frozen sliced okra (optional. I recently started adding this)
about a third of a cup of brown rice
two or three bouillon cubes of Knorr vegetarian vegetable stock
And pretty much any other vegetable to your liking. I have included broccoli, cauliflower, peas, string beans and a bunch of other stuff. Nothing will really spoil your soup, but some things are better than others. If you want to boost the protein content consider a variety of beans from kidney to soy.
I sautee the onions and some chopped garlic over a small amount of oil at the bottom of my large pot. I then add the vegetables one at a time into the pot over a medium heat, salting and peppering each layer of vegetables. Then the cans of tomatoes go in. I usually also buy two smaller cans of diced tomatoes in case I need a little bit more.
While you are doing all this I keep a kettle of water boiling on
another burner. Dissolve one or two vegetable bouillon cubes in a
measuring cup with the boiling water and add to the pot. continue to do
this until the vegetables are covered in liquid. Mix it up real good,
and taste the stock. Is it too salty? Too bland? Well, add some water if it's too salty, and salt or bouillon if it's too bland.
When it comes to a boil, add your brown rice, cover, reduce to a simmer and let it sit for an hour or so. That's it. You're done. You can add chili pepper, squeeze in some lemon, cheese, sour cream, whatever floats your boat. You really can't go wrong. Well, I guess you could. But I think you would know if you are on the wrong track.
It will last you so many freaking bowls of soup, you won't believe it. The whole thing will probably cost you around ten bucks. And you'll have leftover carrots, celery and vegetable boullon.
That's it. Happy cooking.