Speaking from experience, I can say that holiday eating is beyond deadly for the waistline. We’ve already received four different boxes/tins of candy and I know for a fact that there will be more. The holiday parties I’ve attended so far boasted an array of cheeses, crackers, cookies, and in a few cases, pizzas, further dooming my feminine figure. But that’s what the holidays are all about right? Eating tons of hearty, comforting, and fatty food, meeting and befriending strangers at parties, goofing around with friends you haven’t seen in too long, and sometimes even hanging out with family. Over the holidays, with all the people visiting, parties being attended, and time spent just hanging around it is so easy to cook/bake/eat so much! And it’s weird cause holiday food is pretty similar to the food I eat all year round, yet it somehow seems that much better now that it’s being served to me on a plate with snowflakes or santa on it. I’m personally going to blame it on our biological instincts…it’s cold! We gotta pack it on for survivals sake! Like bears and manatees, right? Right. Sweet. Thank science. Still, it doesn’t hurt to sneak in a healthy meal here and there. Especially if it’s super easy to prepare and cheeeeap to make. It is for these reasons exactly, that I adore this soup. I’m cheap and I’m lazy! Match made in heaven right?
So, soup might seem boring, especially a tomato vegetable soup. Been there done that, right? Well, let me tell you. This soup is intense. It’s so hearty you’re heart is going to pull a grinch on you and increase by like 5 sizes and it’s so healthy you’re going to lose five pounds just eating it. Yeah. I know. It’s warm, it’s got a lot of flavor, and it’s got a LOT of healthy tasty vegetables. Still, despite being so awe-inspiring, it’s a decidedly humble soup; starting with the simple and classic combo of onions, celery, and carrots then moving on with some good old fashion diced tomatoes.
Like most of the soups I made, this is a very self reliant soup. After you’ve sautéed your celery, carrots, and onions and added in your tomatoes, stock, and water it’s time to walk away. At this point it needs to go at a soft boil for about twenty minutes to cook out some of the tomatoeyness. I love tomato soups and all, but I don’t want mine to taste like marinara sauce. After it’s cooked down a bit it’s time to kick it up a notch. Herbs and junk! Yum
The thing about vegetable soups is you can’t put all the veggies in at the same time. I’ve had soups where people do this and some of your veggies are still practically raw, while others are mush. So it’s important before you start to take stock of what needs to cook when. In this case, after my soup had been cookin for twenty minutes, I added in the cabbage and beans but left the zucchini out. Beans and cabbage are pretty sturdy and thus less likely to get over cooked and mushy. Now, I’m sure your also wondering why there’s a picture of some bread. WELL, adding in about half a cup of croutons/toasted bread/stale bread/whatever and letting them boil down along with the soup helps thicken your broth and add a little flavor. It’s totally option but it’s a nice little touch.
After about twenty more minutes of boiling, my cabbage was soft, my bread was mushy and disintegrated, and my broth was tastin gewd. So at this point I added in my zucchini….and some parmesan cheese! Surprise! Betcha didn’t see that coming. Like the bread, it’s totally optional, it just adds a nice bit of saltiness and flavor. Plus, cheese is delicious. And my parents buy their parmesan cheese from Costco so we literally have three pounds of parmesan. I’m using it at every possible moment now, just cause I can.
The cheese and zucchini only need to cook for about 10-15 minutes and then it’s time to eat! I made this soup at the behest of my parents. They wanted healthy, warm, and delicious. I think I delivered…
We garnished our soup with some freshly ground pepper and more cheese. Fancy smancy I know, but hey, it was awesome.
Tomato Vegetable Soup
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and roughly diced
- 4 celery stalks, sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups diced tomatoes w/juice, one of the big cans, around 14oz
- 3 cups chicken stock* (feel free to use veggie)
- 2 cups water*
- 1 tsp Italian Seasoning
- 1/2 tsp dried basil, I used fresh and used about 5 leaves and minced them
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 1 medium bay leaf
- 8oz can of Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 medium zucchini, roughly diced
- 1/4 head of napa cabbage, roughly shredded and diced
- 1/2 cup stale bread/toasted bread/crostini/some kind of toasted dry bread thing (optional)
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan (optional)
In a large heavy stock pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add in onions, carrots, and celery and sauté for about 5 minutes. Add in garlic and continue to sauté until onions begin to go translucent and carrots and celery begin to soften, about 7 minutes. Pour in tomatoes, stock, and water then cover pot and let cook at a soft boil for about 15-20 minutes. Add italian seasoning, basil, salt, pepper, thyme, and the bay leaf and stir to combine. Add in cannellini beans, cabbage, and bread then cover again and let cook at a soft boil for 15 minutes. Be sure to taste the soup and add seasoning as necessary. Once beans and cabbage are starting to soften and the bread is disintegrating, add in zucchini and parmesan cheese and stir to combine. Cover and let cook for about 15 minutes or until zucchini is soft and cooked through. Serve warm with fresh ground pepper and grated parmesan.
*There wasn’t a huge amount of liquid in this soup so I suggest adding more stock and water if you want more broth.