What tastes better than on a chilly evening than a bowl of hot soup? Not much! That must be why I am sharing another soup recipe here with you. This vegetable-pasta soup is made from staples that many of us have on hand, and can be whipped up in a little over half an hour. The flavor is mellow and comforting, and it is basic enough to appeal to a wide range of people with varying tastes (including, and especially, kids). This soup actually reminds me of the vegetable soup my mom used to serve to my brothers and me (and any neighborhood kids who happened to be over that day) after we had been out playing in the cold.
This is a recipe that I have developed over the years, based on many variations of minestrone and vegetable soups. I add lots of pasta to help make it filling, and keep the vegetables very basic, so it is a crowd-pleaser. The broth is so wonderful–a blend of chicken broth, tomatoes, and garlic make is savory without being overpowering.
My son had a friend over this past weekend, and the boys, my daughter, my husband and I were outside a good portion of the day, riding bikes, tromping through the woods, and throwing stones into the lake. The kids collected treasures like snail shells and old, abandoned fishing bobbers. The weather was unusually warm and sunny for December, and we all took full advantage of it. But when it got dark, it got dark fast, and it got cold. This vegetable soup (served with pieces of flatbread pizza) was a perfect way to warm up and talk about the adventures of the day.
Sometimes there is something almost magical that happens when people share a meal together. For me, it often happens after everyone has been outside for awhile, and often when we are welcoming those to our table who aren’t usually there, and especially when we are not in a hurry. The food does not need to be fancy or elaborate–just tasty and warm, and lovingly prepared. As we head into the heart of winter, I hope to have more evenings like this, with comforting food, lively conversation, and sparkling lights in the darkness.
I have read two articles recently about how people in the Scandinavian countries embrace winter in all its cold, dark beauty. They dress warmly, enjoy outdoor activities, and gather together to eat, drink, and talk by candlelight or around a roaring fire. Apparently, the Danish term “hygge” describes this feeling of coziness. I hope to experience more hygge this winter, like we did this past weekend, and I hope to learn to cultivate the art of creating it and embracing it. Best wishes of the same to all of you–warmth in the cold, and lights in the darkness. Have a great week!
Cozy Vegetable Soup
- 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 2 large carrots, peeled and diced
- 2 stalks of celery, finely sliced
- 7 and 1/2 cups of chicken broth (use vegetable broth if you want to make it vegetarian)
- 1 tablespoon of tomato paste
- 3 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped (if Idon’t have fresh, I use 3-4 canned San Marzano tomatoes, chopped)
- approximately 6-8 ounces (depending on how hearty you want the soup to be) of bite-sized pasta (I like to use orecchiette)
- salt and pepper to taste
- fresh parsley
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook the onion and garlic for about 5 minutes, or until the onion gets soft. Stir in the carrots, celery, broth, and tomato paste. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and let the soup simmer gently for about 30 minutes. Then, stir in the tomatoes and pasta and simmer until the pasta is tender, about 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with parsley. Enjoy!