Makes about 4 quarts
You'll want between 8-10 cups of vegetables total.
Longer-cooking ingredients to add at the beginning:
Chicken, beef, or vegetable bouillon cubes (read the package to determine the amount in proportion to liquid)
Chopped onion, chopped shallots, broccoli (chopped or small florets), cauliflower (chopped or small florets), chopped cabbage, sliced or chopped carrots, sliced or chopped celery, chopped fennel, diced winter squash or pumpkin, diced potatoes, canned chopped or crushed tomatoes, dried herbs (thyme, basil, oregano, rosemary, or an Italian mix, about 1 to 2 tsp. total)
Shorter-cooking ingredients to add during the last 15-20 minutes or so of cooking:
Corn kernels, peas, sliced or chopped zucchini or summer squash, chopped fresh tomatoes, any leftover cooked vegetables — chopped, rinsed, and drained canned beans, cooked rice, barley, or orzo, shredded or cubed cooked beef, pork, turkey, or chicken, chopped fresh herbs (thyme, basil, oregano, rosemary, and/or parsley, 1 to 2 tbsp. total), kosher or coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, grated or crumbled cheese, such as cheddar, Parmesan, provolone, Romano, feta, and so on (optional), for sprinkling on at the end
1. Bring 3 quarts of water to a simmer in a large soup pot over high heat. Add the bouillon cubes. Reduce the heat to keep the liquid at a simmer and add your choice of the longer-cooking ingredients. Let them simmer away until everything becomes fairly tender, about 30 minutes.
2. Add your choice of the shorter-cooking ingredients, season with salt and pepper to taste, and let the soup simmer for another 15 to 20 minutes or so. Start tasting the soup toward the end, and when the flavors seem to be blended and the consistency of the ingredients is as you like it, serve it up — it's soup! Sprinkle some cheese on top, if you like.
What the Kids Can Do: This is tailor-made for kids to take the reins. Let them hunt through the refrigerator and the pantry. Depending on your kids' ages and how hard or soft the vegetables are, kids may be able to help with some of the prep work (leftover cooked veggies are usually soft enough for beginner chefs to cut up with a table knife). Be sure to supervise kids while they add the various ingredients to the simmering pot. It's so much fun for them to see how a bunch of very separate ingredients comes together into one special dish.
- Main Dishes, Soup