This hearty vegetable soup is chunky, fresh, and satisfying
Every now and then we try to do a meatless Monday dinner in our house. This soup is by far one of my go-to meals! This soup is hearty and very filling. Even my husband Brad, who is a big-time meat eater, is fully satisfied when he has this. Maybe it’s from the creamy burrata cheese!
This is a one pot meal that requires very little time, you can be doing 4 other things while this is cooking, it practically makes itself.
I tend to chop and toss in the pot as I go. If you prefer to chop ahead all the vegetables and then make it, go ahead but what I love about this process is that if you chop and toss in the pot the vegetables in the order I give you, they cook for you in the right time as you chop. In other words, you chop and toss, chop and toss in the pot as you go.
Detailed instructions on how to make this vegetable soup:
In a large pot, heat some extra virgin olive oil. I use like 2-3 tablespoons. Once the oil has heated a bit, add the chopped onions and peppers. Season them with salt and pepper.
TIP! I am very generous with the salt at this point. The salt will help the vegetables sweat and this speeds up the cooking.
Cook the onions and peppers until the onions become translucent.
Add the carrots and stir them in. Let the carrots cook for 2-3 minutes.
Add the minced garlic and let it cook for a minute or so, watch it carefully because it can burn quickly.
Add the zucchini and squash, re-season with salt and pepper and add the garlic powder and chicken bouillon powder. Let the vegetables cook for 5 more minutes.
TIP! The vegetables will start intensifying in color. They will slowly start wilting down but will still be firm and not cooked through yet.
Give the veggies a good stir and make sure you get all the bits and pieces from the bottom if some were sticking or browning.
It’s time to add the water or vegetable stock. It is entirely up to you which one you want to use. The vegetable stock will definitely give it more flavor but if you don’t have any around or if you want to have a little more control over the flavors in your soup, then water is the way to go.
Cook uncovered for 5-7 minutes.
TIP! With this particular blend of vegetables, I chose water because the vegetables themselves are water based. They won’t absorb the liquid much. If anything, they will give out liquid. If I was using a starchy vegetable like butternut squash or potatoes, I would use more liquid for this soup, so vegetable stock would be perfect as they would soak it all up!
Put the lid on and cook still on high for 5 minutes.
After 5 minutes or so, stir the soup. Check to see how cooked all the veggies are, especially the carrots. Then, cover the pot only half way and continue to cook for 5 more minutes, this time on medium heat.
Stir the soup again and continue to cook uncovered for 5 more minutes on low to medium heat. Notice that little by little we are lowering the heat intensity. It’s like doing a “cool down” after working out. This allows the soup to slow down a bit and finish cooking in a slow simmer.
TIP! Cooking the soup uncovered and half way covered, allows the liquids to reduce a little bit. This process makes the flavors intensify and really become one cohesive mixture.
Check one more time to see if the vegetables are now fully cooked through. Again, most importantly, check those veggies that take the longest, like the carrots. If they are fork tender (that means you can easily poke them with a fork and the fork goes through them like a warm knife through “buttah”) then go ahead and turn off the heat.
Add the spinach to the hot soup. Slowly mix the spinach in, it will look like an overwhelming amount of spinach but once the heat starts hitting the spinach, it will wilt down to nothing.
Once all the spinach is incorporated nicely into the soup, it’s time to serve it.
TIP! Serve it now while the spinach is still a vibrant green color. The longer the spinach sits in the soup, the darker it will turn.
My special touch
I love to serve this soup with a half of a burrata. You can buy Burrata Cheese at almost any grocery store now. The cream inside the burrata oozes into the soup and makes it so luscious! It’s like a sinful treat inside such a nutrient packed soup. This is completely optional. You can add shaved Parmesan cheese or even feta crumbles if you prefer a lighter option. When I serve it with burrata, I love serving it with some sort of crusty bread that will be perfect to dip into the cream of the burrata.
- 2 cups carrots peeled and cut in 1 inch cubes
- 2 cups zucchini cut in 1 inch cubes
- 2 cups yellow squash cut in 1 inch cubes
- 1/2 cup red bell pepper chopped in small 1/2 inch cubes
- 1/2 cup yellow onion chopped in small 1/2 inch cubes
- 3 cloves garlic minced finely
- 3 cups fresh baby spinach
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon powder
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 cups water or vegetable stock
- 2 balls Burrata cheese optional to add on top of soup after cooking
- 2 slices crustini bread optional to serve along side soup
- In a large pot, heat some the extra virgin oilve oil, I use like 2-3 tablespoons
- When the oil has heated, add the onions and peppers
- Season with salt and pepper, stir and let cook until the onions become tranlucent
- Add the carrots and stir the mixture adn let cook for 2-3 minutes (I use this time to chop the zuchinni and squash)
- Add the garlic, stir and cook for a minute or so, watch it carefully so it does not burn
- Add the zuchinni and squash, re-season with salt and pepper and add the garlic powder and chicken bouillon powder
- Cook the vegetables for 5-7 minutes. They will start getting softer and changing in color. Make sure you stir them every now and then
- Add the water or vegetable stock
- Cook the vegetables for 5 minutes WITHOUT the lid on
- Stir the vegetables and keep cooking with the lid ON for another 5-7 minutes
- Stir the vegetables and keep cooking with the lid on only HALF WAY for another 5-7 minutes
- Test to see if all the vegetables are cooked through, especially the carrots
- If the vegetables are all cooked through and the carrots are fork tender turn off the heat and stir in the spinach
- Once the spinach is all incorporated, test the soup for salt and pepper. Add salt and pepper if needed.
- I like to serve the soup in a bowl and top with a half of a burrata cheese. You can also add some crostini (thin toasted slices of baguete bread with butter and topped with parmesan cheese). This is completely optional
Recipe Video Instructions
- Switch the burrata cheese to a lighter cheese like fresh goat cheese.
- Switch the spinach with fresh kale
- Skip the carrots (they naturally are high in sugar) and use portobello mushrooms instead
Why I love to cook this hearty vegetable soup
There are several reasons why this soup is one of my go to’s. First of all, you can basically pick any vegetables you have in hand and you can’t go wrong. The basics are to use fresh vegetables with vibrant colors and to use peppers, onions and garlic as your base for flavor. So if one day you want to make this soup and you realize that you don’t have yellow squash for example, don’t worry, use tomato instead, you can swip and swap the vegetables any way you want. The only vegetables I would be careful with would be sweet potato or regular potato. They can definitely work, but just take into consideration that they can make the soup starchy and what I love about this soup is that it’s fresh and vibrant. The last basic rule to keep in mind with this soup is to cook the vegetables in the order it takes them to cook from longest to quickest. So after sautéing the onions and peppers, you toss the garlic and a few seconds after you toss your fist vegetable. In this case it will be carrots. Carrots take the longest, potatoes as well. Almost all squashes cook approximately the same time, broccoli and cauliflower will be quicker than the squashes.
The second reason I why I love making this soup is because my oldest daughter Emma, can sometimes be picky and if I blend the soup for her, she loves it. It becomes creamy and rich and with the burrata it is honestly sinful. It is a beautiful way to “trick” her to eat all the vegetables without putting up a fight! Mia, my youngest one, likes it chunky as is, so for Emma, I just take out a few ladle fulls and toss them in the blender for a few seconds and that’s it. Not a big deal.