Friday, October 29, 2010

Leanne's Basic Vegetable Soup

Day 12 of the 30 Day Tasty Vegetable Challenge

Leanne Ely is another nutritionist and cookbook author whose recipes were part of my regular family meal plans before I started Dinner Together. As I've written before, I love her cookbook, Saving Dinner. Leanne has generously shared with us one of her classic recipes for this project. When I read it, I thought that this would be perfect for Halloween weekend ~ something you can make ahead and have ready to eat in between rounds of trick-or-treating and Halloween parties. Please visit Leanne's website for even more healthy recipes and meal planning ideas.

This is my tried and true, never fail, always terrific Basic Veggie Soup. I use this for weight loss, holidays (having a vat of this stuff in the fridge will save many a family from drive thru disaster) and it has become a beloved favorite with my many readers. :-) The variations make it an endless, go-to recipe that I know your folks will love too. Here you go--enjoy!!

Leanne’s Basic Vegetable Soup - Makes 12 cups

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, pressed           
2 small celery stalks, chopped           
1/4 head cabbage, chopped           
2 large carrots, chopped
2 cups green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 teaspoon thyme
Sea salt and fresh pepper to taste
6 cups chicken broth (homemade is preferable otherwise choose a low-sodium, gluten free brand)           

In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook till nearly translucent, now add the garlic (don't let the garlic brown) and saute another couple of minutes. Add the rest of the chopped veggies, sauteing for just a minute or two. You're not cooking them just sauteing for the wonderful flavor this quick step will infuse in your soup. Add the thyme and salt and pepper while sauteing.

Now put the veggies in the crock-pot, add the broth. Cook on low 7 to 9 hours (depending on your crock-pot) or high 4 to 6 hours (but all crock-pots are different, depending on size, age, brand etc. Remember, your mileage may vary.

Quick Fixes for Variations on the Basic Veggie Soup:

Now remember, don’t do this to the whole pot of soup! Just the little bit you pull out to fix yourself for lunch, etc.

Quick Fix #1:
Tex Mex Veggie Soup. Add some fresh chopped tomato and cilantro, simmer till tomato is tender. Top with some crunchy corn tortilla strips (make in the oven & avoid frying), a little cheese if you want and some avocado!

Quick Fix #2:
Tuscan Veggie Soup. Add some fresh chopped tomato, chopped kale, a little bit of dried basil. Cook till heated through and the kale is tender. I love to add a little chicken sausage too for added lowfat protein.

Quick Fix #3:
Minestrone Veggie Soup. Add some fresh chopped tomato, baby spinach leaves and little dried oregano. Simmer till tomato is tender. You can add some cooked pasta, white beans, a dollop of jarred pesto for amazing flavor as well.

Quick Fix #4:
Autumn Veggie Soup. Add some diced acorn squash or butternut squash, a sprinkling of nutmeg and some chopped parsley. Simmer soup till your squash is cooked.

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