Souped-up veggies

Now and then I get tired of vegetables just cooked and plopped on a plate. Even adding spices and herbs doesn’t relieve the tedium, especially in winter, when there aren’t as many kinds of fresh vegetables available.

I could cream them or mix them with other sauces, but we’re trying to avoid those kinds of add-ons that are usually full of fat or other useless calories. I do manage to roast them, or whip them in combination with each other to come up a new taste, and that helps. Can’t forego them altogether because they’re just too important for all-around good health.

So, on this cold, gray winter day I decided the answer was a big pot of soup. I hadn’t planned it ahead of time, so I had to make do with whatever veggies I had on hand. But that’s the beauty of soup: The list of ingredients is entirely variable.

I started with two big leeks, sliced thin as far up the stalks as I could go. I sautéed them in coconut oil along with some white mushrooms, added garlic powder, turmeric (love that beautiful yellow color it gives to everything, to say nothing of the taste), salt and pepper. When the leeks were soft, I added the cut-up chunks of a chicken breast half. The ones I buy are huge, so half is plenty.

Once the chicken was no longer pink, I transferred all of it to a soup pot, and added vegetable broth and enough water to equal about 7 cups. The broth is my own. Whenever I steam veggies, I save the water in a quart jar in the fridge, mixing it all together and then using it for soups, gravies or anything else that needs a flavor boost. That way, I don’t dump any stray vitamins down the drain when the steaming is done.

In this batch, I had the steamings from beets, rutabagas, carrots and parsnips.


Photo by Monica Sawyn

Thanks to the beets, the color was really dark, and I did wonder what this would do for the eye appeal of my soup. Turns out, with the yellow of the turmeric, I ended up with a deep golden color that was wonderfully appetizing to look at.

Anyway, to this mixture I added half a dozen or so carrots–the last ones I had in the fridge–two stalks of celery, the stem portion of some beet greens, and about three handfuls of organic basmati brown rice, which is much more flavorful than regular brown rice. I let all of it simmer for about 45 minutes, then added the chopped leaves of two beet stalks, and a healthy bunch of chopped spinach. It takes only minutes for the greens to wilt down.

Just before serving, I whipped an egg and drizzled it slowly over the top of the soup. It immediately cooks up, and adds some natural thickener, as well as lovely color and flavor.

Usually I make my own bread, but I confess this time I served the soup with an onion-and-cheese bread I bought from a local bakery. Toasted, it was the perfect accompaniment to the soup. Since we use as little butter as possible, we brush a bit of olive oil on the toast. It’s a wonderful substitute for butter.
The mushrooms and the greens have the added attraction of being good sources of potassium, which plays an essential role in the response of nerves to stimulation and in the contraction of muscles. So, if any of you deal with leg cramps or any kind of mild erratic heartbeat, you might think about increasing your intake of potassium–and that doesn’t have to mean gorging on starchy bananas. If I had planned ahead, I might have soaked some white beans overnight and used those instead of rice, since white beans are one of the highest sources of potassium.

Meanwhile, this soup looked good, smelled wonderful, and tasted delicious. I’m SO glad we have leftovers!


About Monica Sawyn

I'm a retired newspaper reporter/columnist, and although I still freelance, I miss the weekly column I used to write. I still "see columns" in everyday life and need a place to put them after they're written--thus, this blog. I'm Catholic, have been a Benedictine oblate since 1977, and live with my husband and our beagle in Sturgeon Bay, Wis. When I'm not writing, I'm probably reading, sewing, taking photos or walking the dog.
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4 Responses to Souped-up veggies

  1. blb1 says:

    I’ve read Canola oil is good as an anti inflammatory. I usually avoid oils on salads, can’t imagine what that would taste like.

    • Monica Sawyn says:

      Canola oil isn’t popular these days, for reasons I’ve forgotten. Better is olive, grapeseed or coconut. I put olive oil in a cruet and add fresh rosemary and garlic to drizzle over salads or even to brush on toast. It’s GREAT! You should try it.

  2. Nellie says:

    I will finally be getting around to taking the turkey bones left from Thanksgiving out of the freezer to make soup tomorrow. Thanks for your hints – I’ll be saving the broth from tonight’s steamed broccoli to add to the soup with whatever veggies are kicking around in the frig. I usually put leftover veggies into a bag in the freezer and then toss them into whatever is the next pot of soup made.

    • Monica Sawyn says:

      That’s a good idea about freezing the leftover veggies. Much better than leaving them in the fridge until they turn green! LOL! I always try to stay on top of what’s in the fridge–with varying degrees of success. Once it gets shoved to the back, it’s hopeless.

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