Three lazy soups …

Last weekend, I spent a few hours making soups with a friend who has been looking to do some more simple cooking to promote her continued journey to health. Like most of us, she is busy; she works more than one job outside the home and is short on time. During the winter months, I often make big batches of soups in my multi-cooker (usually on the pressure cooker setting) and reap the benefits throughout the week. The problem is that I’m super lazy and don’t put a lot of effort into chopping or making refined soups. They usually come out to my liking, though, so I keep making them! That is one message I wanted to convey to my friend… make it so you like it, sister!

Below are a few really simple recipes that we made… 3 soups were completely prepared in well under 2 hours and ready to be transported home. This included chatting time.

Soup is about layering flavors… but in lazy soups, this cannot be achieved using classical cooking techniques. Some soup-making considerations we discussed:

What is your cooking vessel?
As I mentioned, I like my pressure cooker, but any old pot will do! Consider your cooking method and desired amount of time to spend making the actual soup.

Do you have a blender?
You can play around with various textures. Blend half the soup to make a hearty base, that still has bite. Blend the entire soup for a refined, silky soup.

What’s your base?

  • Tomato adds a ton of flavor – both sweet and acidic – that makes a fabulous base. This can be found in fresh, chopped tomato, or canned or jarred tomato products (e.g. sauce, paste, puree).
  • Stocks can be found in several forms and are really dependent upon your tastes. If you have time, homemade are great. But, there are decent quality boxed stocks and concentrates. Always pay attention to sodium, though. Soups can be hidden sources of excess salt. Stock can always be replaced with water or diluted with water. Making your own soups gives you control of this!
  • Aromatics such as onions, garlic, leeks, celery, and carrot are the base for most soups. These sautéed and seasoned can easily replace soup stock.
  • Miso is a tremendous vegetarian soup base!

What’s in your soup?

  • Most of the soups I make are vegetarian and grain-free. This format leaves room for add-ins of various proteins (more beans, chicken, fish, beef) when I eat them, and for family members to customize their meal. Think soup bar — like salad bar.
  • Simple ingredients! Frozen vegetables! This is your opportunity to upgrade your vegetable intake, so do not hold back on the veggies! These could be frozen from your bumper crop or bagged, frozen (organic or not!) from the local supermarket.
  • Small amounts of flavor-boosting add-ins may include:
    • parmesan rind,
    • pestos,
    • spices that take you around the globe (herbs de provence, Italian blends, cumin, chili powder, turmeric), and
    • acids such as lemon or vinegar liven up bitter or flat-tasting soups

 

Before I met with my cooking buddy, I sent her a shopping list after we agreed she wanted to see a few different types of soups. To make a bean/lentil soup, a vegetable soup, and a creamy soup, I sent her this list in an email:

Produce:

  • 2-3 medium onions or frozen (see below)
  • Garlic (whatever kind you normally use – heads, jarred, powder)
  • A squash that looks good to you (butternut or acorn) OR a head of cauliflower for a creamy soup
  • Bag of carrots

Dry goods:

  • Bag lentils (green) or half a pound from the bulk bins
  • 2 cans tomato puree
  • 1 can of white beans (** look for BPA free cans – the local supermarket’s organic brand cans are BPA-free)
  • Box of low sodium vegetable stock or chicken stock OR jar of bouillon concentrate

Frozen:

  • 2-3 bags Frozen/chopped onions
  • 1-2 bags Frozen mirepoix (chopped onions/celery/carrot) (**If you can find it!)
  • 1-2 bags frozen kale or spinach
  • 1 Bag Italian vegetables

She showed up with everything on the list, plus the fresh onions, which we didn’t use.

Here’s what we made, including ingredients and approximate cooking times:

Creamy Cauliflower:

Water (approx 5-6 cups)
Bag frozen onions
Head of cauliflower, rinsed and florets separated gracefully by smacking the head onto the
Italian seasoning
Spoon of stock concentrate

Cook in pressure cooker set for 8 minutes

2 heads roasted garlic (We roasted those while I had a couple of pumpkins I was cooking while she was over. We added the roasted garlic into the soup after it’d been cooked.)

Blend in a blender or with hand immersion blender

Finish with a spoon of pesto and adjust seasonings.

 

White Bean & Kale:

Saute chopped onions, carrots, celery
Box veggie broth
Part of a large bag of frozen kale
Can white beans rinsed
Season with a combination of cumin, paprika, smoked paprika, and coriander to taste
** We cooked this in a pot because my pressure cooker was doing the cauliflower, so it could be sautéed in pan, or thrown into the pressure cooker for about 8 minutes
** My friend planned to add veggie sausage later to this soup, but any desired protein would make it a meal.

Lentil:

2 cans tomato
sauce
Half bag dried lentils (rinsed)
Bag italian veggies
Bag spinach frozen
Bag onions
Water to cover (4-5 cups)
Season with herbs de provence and salt to taste

Add all the ingredients to the pressure cooker and cook with the timer set to 15 minutes

 

A few notes:

Since we ended up using so many of the frozen vegetables, my kitchen looked like a commercial for our local supermarket. But, those frozen veggies added a lot of ease to the process.

My friend had a chance to experiment with some soup bases, spices and flavorings she didn’t normally do at home, but I think she found it fun! And, I think she’ll make more of these types of foods at home.

What’s your favorite homemade soup? Drop me an email – I’d love to try it! april@tuttosano.com

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