My Grandma’s Vegetable Soup

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Steaming vegetable soup, almost as my grandma used to make it.

I was a pretty adventurous eater as a child, but not all of my cousins and siblings were. Every kid has at least one food they won’t touch with a ten-foot fork. From what I remember, it didn’t have much to do with taste. We just picked a food we were going to hate (mine was broccoli, which I now love) and would kick and scream if it was even on the same plate as anything we were going to eat.

With so many grandkids and so many different tantrum-inspiring vegetables to keep track of, my grandmother still managed to make a vegetable soup we all eagerly devoured. The secret involved never telling us what was in it and pureeing the whole pot. Brilliant. Even though I’m a huge fan of most veggies and would eat the soup no matter what was in it now, the blended creamy mix just hits the spot. It’s one of my favorite ways to remember my grandmother and being a kid.

That said, I have no idea how she made it, so I’ve come up with my own best approximation. If you’ve been reading this site for any length of time, you probably know by now that I’m not always a fan of specifics. This will be one of the vaguest recipes on this site, but I promise you, you won’t be able to mess it up! Just think of this soup as a great way to get rid of any old veggies clogging up your fridge, freezer or pantry.

Recipe: My Grandma’s Vegetable Soup

Makes 6-10 hearty adult servings

Vegetables, any combination of the following, totaling approximately 8 cups:

  • onion
  • garlic
  • carrots
  • celery
  • green beans
  • lima beans
  • peas
  • corn
  • broccoli
  • cauliflower
  • okra
  • pumpkin or other squash chunks/puree
  • kale/chard/collard greens/spinach
  • tomatoes, tomato sauce, or tomato paste

Seasonings:

  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • hot paprika, cayenne or red pepper flakes for a kick

Filler:

  • ~8 cups of water with bouillon, or other flavorful liquid (vegetable broth, chicken broth, etc)
  • About 1 lb of your choice of dried pasta (alphabet, ditalini, macaroni, rotini, rotelles, shells, wagon wheels, whatever you like, but I find smaller is better)
  1. Fill a large soup pot with the oil and vegetables coarsely chopped (just small enough to cook, don’t worry about appearance since it will all be pureed anyway). Mix and match any vegetables you have on hand. The above are just suggestions, though I do recommend sticking with similar vegetables and leaving out starchy veggies like potatoes as they may give the soup a gritty texture.
  2. Cover pot and cooking at a low/medium temperature until the vegetables are soft and bright. This will probably not take very long if using frozen or canned vegetables, maybe less than 10 minutes. Some fresh vegetables may take a few more minutes to soften.
  3. Add 4 cups of liquid and stir well. Puree. I prefer using an immersion blender for this sort of thing, but if you don’t have one, you can puree in the blender in batches. Just be careful as it can be hot.
  4. Add the rest of the liquid (or more if it is too thick). Season to taste.
  5. Add an extra 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Add the pasta. Cook until the pasta is “al dente” and then take off the heat.
  6. Allow to cool for 15 minutes, which will cook the pasta a bit more. If the soup is too thick, add water and stir until creamy and soupy. Keep in mind that it will thicken a bit more as it cools. Serve hot, warm or cold.

About this author:  I'm a New Yorker who would rather cook than go out to restaurants. Sometimes I think I may be in the wrong city for that. Then I remember the exotic ingredients I'd be hard-pressed to find if I lived somewhere else. My cooking style is an eclectic range of everyday-American, Italian, middle-eastern, with extensive forays into Japanese cuisine, and some pit-stops into Indian and African cuisines. I love to try my hand at recreating dishes I taste. While I enjoy most anything with a flavor, from high cuisine to instant junk food, I have a soft spot in my belly for home-style cooking no matter the geographic or ethnic origin. Read more from this author...


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