If you can't tell, I've been on a major soup kick lately.
Sometimes though, I just want something easy--no fuss, no mess, no measuring of the spices. This soup is perfect if you're looking to throw a meal together but don't want to sacrifice taste. It's anything but bland, but so simple. Just requires some chopping!
There are no real guidelines for the soup. You won't find exact amounts for any ingredients--rather, it's a taste as you go, or taste by preference kind of deal. My advice? Listen to your gut. Cooking can be such an emotional and spiritual experience; sometimes it's best to just let your heart take over, watch your hands sprinkle the sprigs of thyme, smell the garlic simmering in the pot, listen to the rhythm of the knife chopping winter squash, and just feel it. You'll know what it needs next.
Mamma's Vegetable Soup (serves 6-8)
Handful of fresh stew/soup herbs, stripped
About 1-2 medium onions, chopped
Perhaps 3-5 garlic cloves, minced
A jalapeno or more, diced
Approximately 1-2 carrots, diced
Cup or 2 of zucchini, diced
Just a can of corn, drained
Likely half a bag of frozen peas
Small butternut squash, diced
A can of diced tomatoes
Several cups of vegetable broth
Handfuls of kale, chopped
About a can or two of cannellini beans
Maybe a can of kidney beans
Black pepper and salt to taste
Sautee your stew herbs, onions, garlic and jalapeno with olive oil until soft. Add your carrots, zucchini and squash, and cook for about five minutes. Add in the diced tomatoes and vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Reduce to a steady simmer, and add in your corn, peas, and beans after about 15 minutes, or when squash is tender. Add the kale last, just letting it wilt. Season with salt and pepper to taste. The longer it cooks, the more flavorful it will become.
You could always add other spices, too--basil, oregano, even smoked paprika and cumin would be delicious. Try out whatever vegetables you want, maybe some bell peppers, or different beans, like navy or black. Experiment, use what you have on hand, don't stress about it.
This soup is like your favorite easygoing love song. Take it easy and enjoy the process.