Here’s a hearty, comforting, QUICK vegetable soup that comes together easily for a weeknight dinner. There’s a secret here, originating from Cook’s Illustrated, that helps you create depth of flavor without hours of simmering: it’s V8 juice.
The V8 — or any similar vegetable juice (I used Trader Joe’s Low Sodium “Garden Patch”) — is better than just adding tomatoes to your soup because it includes an array of other vegetables, too: carrot, celery, beet, parsley, spinach, bell peppers, etc. So you don’t have to work quite so hard on your own to build a thick, creamy, flavorful broth for your soup… you can just pour it right in! You’ve immediately got a nicely balanced, flavorful, thick broth for your soup. I like to use half V8, half chicken broth to start, and then thin it out with water at the very end to get it just right.
While this soup warms you up on a winter night, it also makes a nice light dinner for the summer, too. Just rotate your vegetables to make the most of whatever is in season. In winter I’ll use butternut squash and greens and canned tomatoes; in summer I’ll use corn and zucchini and fresh tomatoes. And so on.
A Vegetable Soup Formula
Vegetable soup is a great way to use up whatever vegetables you have in your refrigerator, so adapt this recipe to suit your tastes and your produce. Here is a rough formula to get started:
- Mirepoix (2 cups chopped onions, 1 cup chopped carrots, 1 cup chopped celery)
- 3 cloves garlic
- 3 cups V8 juice + 3 cups chicken broth
- 2 cups of a diced sweet vegetable: butternut squash, corn, red bell pepper, etc.
- 2 cups of a green vegetable: spinach, kale, broccoli, zucchini, etc.
- 3 1/2 cups of a cooked starch: beans, grains, pasta
You simply saute the mirepoix with any other fresh vegetables (butternut squash in this case), then add the V8, chicken broth, tomatoes, and starch. Warm it through and add any finishing touches. In this case, I add the spinach at the last minute because it wilts so quickly. You can top the soup with parmesan cheese and chives if you like.
Quick Vegetable Soup with V8 Juice
Here's a hearty, comforting, QUICK vegetable soup that comes together easily for a weeknight dinner. There's a secret here, originating from Cook's Illustrated, that helps you create depth of flavor without hours of simmering: it's V8 juice.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 medium carrots diced small
- 1 medium onion diced small
- 2 stalks celery diced small
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 small butternut squash diced small
- 24 ounces V8 juice or similar vegetable juice (3 cups)
- 24 ounces chicken broth (3 cups)
- 1 14 ounce can diced tomatoes (1 3/4 cup)
- 2 14 ounce cans cannelini beans drained (3 1/2 cups)
- 4 cups fresh baby spinach
- salt to taste
- fresh parmesan, shaved
- fresh chives, minced
1. Place a dutch oven on the stove and warm to medium-high heat. Add olive oil and fill with carrots, onion, celery, and butternut. Stir quickly, cooking vegetables until soft (about 8 minutes). Add garlic and saute for two more minutes.
2. Add V8, chicken broth, diced tomatoes, and beans. Stir until heated through.
Turn off the heat and let soup cool until just warm. Add spinach. The residual heat will quickly wilt the spinach.
Add salt to taste. Thin with water to reach desired consistency.
You can substitute another sweet vegetable for the butternut squash, such as sweet potatoes, red bell pepper, or corn.
You can substitute another green vegetable for the spinach, such as kale, broccoli, or zucchini.
You can substitute another starch for the beans, such as lentils, rice, quinoa, or pasta.