By Joyce Swanson of Living from the Garden
For the past seven years, I have taught classes on healthy food prep. I also teach classes on gardening with raised beds, so I like to encourage people to plan their recipes around their gardens. I use only natural ingredients, so that is what you will find in my recipes.With all of that in mind, allow me to show you how to make healthy soups that are healthy, delicious, and quick to prepare.
First of all, I encourage you to have fun preparing your food. Feel free to vary the ingredients, substituting ingredients and amounts liberally. People often ask me exactly how much of a particular ingredient I put in a recipe. There really is no hard-and-fast rule with this. Soup recipes are very forgiving. In the process of changing the ingredient or the amount of an ingredient, you just may find an absolutely wonderful new recipe! So, have fun “playing” with your food! Happy experimenting!
(I happen to be vegan, so my recipes reflect this. If you are not vegan, substitute or add ingredients as you wish.)
3 stalks celery
Salt and pepper as desired
Seasoning, such as 1 or 2 Rapunzel’s cubes (available in health food stores)
1 qt. milk substitute (such as almond milk, rice milk, or any other you like)
Optional ingredients such as: corn, zucchini, mushrooms, colored peppers, rutabagas, parsnips, turnips, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, garlic, cooked rice, cooked barley, quinoa, noodles, cooked beans, package of frozen mixed vegetables. Use your imagination to come up with others.
- Boil the potatoes with the skins on, if you wish. After they are done, let them cool enough so they are easy to handle. Slice the potatoes into cubes or wedges and put them in a pot. Add enough of the milk or milk substitute to cover the potatoes and other cooked vegetables. Add more milk for a thinner soup.
- If you have a food processor, use it to slice or chop the rest of the vegetables then cook them in a little water until soft. Add these veggies to the cooked and cubed potatoes, then add to milk. Combine all cooked veggies in the pot and simmer a few minutes.
- You can use a blender to mix about a cup of the milk substitute with one or two cubes of seasoning. The seasoning dissolves much better that way. You may want to add about a fourth cup of flour to the milk after the seasoning has dissolved. Blend again and pour the mixture back in the soup that is still heating on the stove. That will help thicken the soup.
- Make a full pot of soup, planning for leftovers. Make enough for several meals at one time, so you have only to reheat it when it is time to eat. The extra could always be frozen too. If freezing, let the soup cool first and leave room in the container for expansion.
To make this into a chowder:
- Add enough milk or milk substitute to cover all of the ingredients and make the soup as thick or thin as you wish. If you want a creamier soup, take a cup or two of the mixture and put it in a blender. Blend thoroughly. Pour it back into the soup and stir it in. That way, you will have a soup of partly blended and partly chunked veggies.
To make this into a water-based soup:
- Follow the same ideas for the chowder above, using water instead of milk.
To make this into a tomato juice-based soup:
- Follow the same ideas for the chowder above, using tomato juice instead of milk. You can also add seasonings such as chili powder, hot peppers, or cayenne if you want a “hot” taste.
Save your scraps from cutting up your vegetables, and use them for composting. Ideally, you could toss all of the scraps into a high-power blender (needed especially for thick scraps) with a couple cups of water, blend thoroughly, and then pour the mixture into your compost pile. Blending it like this before adding it to the compost pile will ensure that it will decompose much faster, providing you with usable compost sooner for your garden. Putting your scraps to use this way allows you get additional value from them as nutrients for future plants. You are essentially throwing nothing away.