1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 medium onion, diced
1/4 cup bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups cleaned, cut vegetables
4 russet potatoes, peeled or not, cut into cubes slightly smaller than for mashed potatoes OR 1/2 cup uncooked rice OR 4 ounces uncooked pasta
milk, broth or veg juice to cover (about 4 cups)
salt and pepper to taste
Clean and slice the vegetables into reasonably uniform size. In a large pot, sauté onion and peppers in olive oil 2-3 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute more. Add the hardest vegetables (carrots, celery, turnip) and rice, if using. Cover with broth or tomato juice, add 1/2 tsp. salt and bring to a boil. Cook for 15 minutes, then add softer vegetables (summer squash, cauliflower) and potatoes. Cook 15-20 minutes, or until potatoes are just tender. If using frozen vegetables, add for last five minutes of cooking time. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. If using pasta instead of potatoes, cook pasta in a separate pot of water, drain and add at the last minute. Taste and correct salt, add pepper and serve.
AN ALPHABET FOR SOUP:
BROCCOLI is good in soup, but it doesn’t like to be boiled. Steam it and add it with the milk.
CARROTS add a sweetness that’s nice, unless you use too much. About a cup of sliced carrots is right.
CAULIFLOWER, in small amounts and small florets, is a good addition.
CELERY is astringent, so don’t use more than 3/4 cup. It’s nice to scrape the strings out before you slice it.
CHICKEN would be fine, if you have some. Leftover chicken can be shredded or diced, or a diced raw chicken can be cooked gently in butter. In either case, add it towards the end.
CORN is delicious in soup. Buy frozen corn, and add it to the soup straight from the freezer.
MUSHROOMS hate to be boiled. Sauté them instead, and add them, along with their juices, just before serving.
PEAS are good, and frozen ones work very well.
POTATOES should be russets, which help thicken the soup. If you like the peel, leave it on.
SUMMER SQUASH is always nice in soup. Don’t overcook it, though.
TOMATOES A large can of diced tomatoes in their juice (or even plain tomato juice) will do nicely for the liquid.