Every chef (moms especially) needs a go-to recipe that everyone loves, is quick and easy to make, and doesn’t require a trip to the grocery store.  In our house, that has become a garden vegetable soup that can stand in as a lunch or dinner, and range from a vegetarian dish to a balanced and hearty meal.

How to enjoy this meal

I was inspired by Weight Watcher’s zero point soup recipe from the 1990s, and designed a family friendly meal we could eat over and over.  In a medium-sized pot, stir together six cups of broth (chicken or vegetable) and four tablespoons of tomato paste.  Add vegetables, filling to just over the top of the liquid.  Vegetables are the first place where you can really customize this: add a bag of frozen mixed veggies; fresh chopped broccoli, carrots, cauliflower; green leafy veggies like spinach or kale; even onions and peppers if you want a little kick.  Stir in your seasonings: a teaspoon each of dried basil and oregano (fresh herbs if you’re lucky enough to have a garden on your sill), kosher salt and pepper to taste, and some chopped garlic and onion powder.  Cook on high until the liquids boil, then simmer on medium-low until the vegetables soften.  Finally, have fun making this dish your own, and don’t be afraid to tap into last night’s leftovers to round out the meal.  Some favorites to toss in:

  • Mini turkey meatballs
  • A few ounces of leftover grilled chicken or turkey
  • Kidney or cannellini beans
  • Last night’s cooked orzo, brown rice, or whole grain pasta
  • Whole wheat crackers, or even whole grain goldfish crackers to entice a little one
  • Parmesan or mozzarella cheese

If your child would balk at the thought of a bowl full of vegetable soup, you can get a little crafty and puree with an immersion blender, food processor, or even regular blender.  I’m fortunate that my kids will eat a bowl of vegetable soup willingly, but I know plenty that would not.  Finally, don’t hesitate to send this to school with your child in a thermos; mine love when I do so.

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