Veddy Veggie Soup

This is the tree we got for our cats this year…a live cat-sized tree! The angel ornament on top is a gift from a friend and fellow cat lover who brought it back for me from her trip to Paris. The plaque at the bottom is St. Gertrude of Nivelles, the Patron Saint of Cats. The spoiled pussycats themselves are across the room eyeing the tree.

Well now. After a whole weekend of fun and frolic, great artwork and party food, and general misbehavin’, I’m exhausted and feel the need to recharge with something healthy and yet comforting for dinner. It’s time for some homemade veggie soup.

This rustic winter vegetable soup recipe is one I’ve developed over many years. The thing I love so much about it is it’s very adaptable and still darn good eating. You can add a few more potatoes if you like, a little more stock or water, more green beans, use cabbage instead of kale…no worries. But, there are some key ingredients besides the veggies themselves that make this soup so special: the fresh herbs and the dried tarragon, the nutmeg and the little bit of butter are essential to the flavor here, so don’t skimp if you can help it. This soup eats like a stew meal with some fresh crusty bread or baguette alongside, or maybe you can be just a little bad and make yourself some cheese toast like I did from a rosemary baguette and some extra sharp cheddar! Either way, dunking your bread or toast into the broth is required to reach full enjoyment potential.

And, of course, this tastes great the next day, makes a whole lot and keeps for several days in the fridge, so it’s a great way to enter the work week with something wonderfully warming on hand to have for dinner. Ahhhh, I feel like purring now.

Veddy Veggie Soup

3 leeks, trimmed of dark green parts, halved vertically, well cleaned then diced
2 Tablespoons olive oil
6 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and minced
4 carrots, peeled and diced
6 cups low-sodium or homemade chicken broth (you can use vegetable broth if you prefer)
2 cups of water
1-28 oz. can whole plum tomatoes and their juice
2 Tablespoons of good quality tomato paste, I use concentrated
5 small white or gold potatoes and 5 small red potatoes, skin on, cleaned and cut into bite sized chunks (you can use all red, or a mix of red, white and purple, too)
3/4 lb. of fresh kale, stemmed and leaves chopped into bite sized pieces, or you can use 1/2 of a green cabbage, cored and chopped into bite sized pieces
3/4 lb. fresh green beans, string if needed, and snap into bite sized pieces
1/4 cup chopped fresh italian flat leaf parsley
1/2 cup fresh shredded basil leaves
1 teaspoon dried tarragon leaves, crumbled to release flavor
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
1/2 generous teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg
2 teaspoons of Kosher salt
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 Tablespoon sugar

Heat the olive oil in a large stock or soup pot over medium heat and add the leeks. Saute for about 2 minutes, then add the garlic. Saute the garlic for another 2 minutes then add the carrots. Saute until the carrots start to soften, about 3 more minutes. Add the chicken stock, the water, the tomatoes and their juices (rinse the can with a tiny bit more water and throw that in, too…waste not!), then add the tomato paste and the potatoes. Stir well to combine, bring the heat up to medium high and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the kale, green beans, parsley, basil, tarragon, black pepper, nutmeg, salt, butter and sugar and stir well. Bring back to a simmer and allow to cook until the kale, beans and potatoes are done, about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. When all of the veggies are cooked through, taste and adjust the salt and pepper if needed. Serve with a little fresh chopped parsley for garnish and some toasted bread for dunking. Makes about 8-10 servings.

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18 thoughts on “Veddy Veggie Soup

    • The kitty girls are 2 1/2 and this is the first tree of their very own. We usually have a big cut tree, which is difficult to keep them out of, but decided to get a live one this year for a number of reasons and it’s cat-sized! Thanks for the compliment on the soup…it’s a warm and fuzzy soup!

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  1. fab soup, can’t beat it! and your lucky cats getting a tree, Johns White cat has a thing for chewing the lights!! So the tree cannot be on as often as he would like. he is a christmas tree person.. c

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    • I love having a big tree and we usually do, but this year we thought a small live tree to grow and keep would be fun for a change. Like Johns White cat, our girls have chewed on lights the past two years on the big cut trees we’ve had…and on the ornaments, and the packages, and the needles…you name it. They just like to look at this one so far…maybe because it’s the same size they are!

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  2. I love soup, Betsey. I sometimes joke that I love soup so much, it could be my middle name! I love it because it is usually healthy, comforting and easy to make. The kale looks like a great addition and it’s packed with vitamins!

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    • I’m the same way, Eva, and could eat soup every day…especially when the weather is cooler. I’ve become a huge fan of kale and though I’ve always made this soup with cabbage in the past, I think the kale tastes even better and as a dark, leafy green, it’s better for you!

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  3. WIth those ingredients, your soup couldn’t be anything but delicious! Love your cat tree. WHen I had cats, every tree was theirs and I picked up more of them off of the floor than I care to remember. Now, with Max, there shall be no tree again this year. He still thinks it fun to grab a light bulb and play keep-away. I shudder to think what he’d do with the ornaments. Maybe next year …

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    • I’m giggling over visions of Max playing keep away! I remember watching my first cat, Snarf, ride my first tree of my own down across a TV set and all the way to the floor…seemed like it was in slow motion…as ornaments broke and limbs cracked. Gotta love your pets!

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    • Thanks, Greg. Wow, at 12 you’ve got a pretty old pup, though young at heart if still trolling the Christmas trees! We can’t have low hanging breakable ornaments here when we have a big tree either, although we have jumpers so it doesn’t help that much to try and cat proof.

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    • Hi profiterolesandponytails, love your name and thanks for visiting! I should think this would be a kid-friendly soup. It’s got a lot of flavor and no one particular veggie stands out but they do all work well together. Let me know if you like it!

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  4. A cat tree with a Cat Saint!! This is a first for me!! I love it!! I need to see if there is a dog Saint! Great comforting soup. You can tell its one you have perfected over the years, looks absolutely delicious!

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    • Hi there, and thanks for your nice compliments! I believe that Saint Rocco is the Patron Saint of Dogs. We have a local store where the owners go to other countries and meet the artists and bring their wares back in a fair trade manner to sell. That plaque came from their store and I didn’t know there was a Patron Saint of Cats until I saw this…had to have it of course! I’m having some of this soup today as a matter of fact…it’s rainy and getting cold…a good day for soup.

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