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Healthy, versatile soup makes it easy to eat more vegetables

How are those New Year’s resolutions going? Like most folks, I’ve resolved to eat more vegetables in the new year. I’d like to share an appetizing idea that’s making my goal much easier. Each weekend I’ll make one big pot of Very Versatile Vegetable Soup to enjoy for lunch the entire week.

As delicious as this soup is, to avoid the “soup again?” syndrome, simple additions to the basic vegetable soup totally change up the flavors so we don’t get bored.

What makes this recipe unique is that I sauté the vegetables for a little caramelization, maximizing the natural sweetness in the veggies. This adds tremendous depth of umami flavor you don’t usually find in vegetable soup.

This delectable recipe can be made in a slow cooker or on a stove top, makes about 10 servings, is easily doubled, and freezes beautifully.

I’m for anything that makes it easy to reach our nutritional goals. Here’s to a happy and healthy 2020.

Very Versatile Vegetable Soup

What you’ll need:

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 large onion, chopped

4 large carrots, chopped

4 celery stalks, chopped

4 to 6 cloves of garlic, minced or more if you love garlic

1 medium head green cabbage, chopped

2 14.5-ounce cans Italian style diced tomatoes, undrained

2 cups green beans, fresh or frozen, chopped

2 small russet potatoes (optional), peeled and chopped

8 cups (5 14.5-ounce cans) low sodium broth, either chicken, beef or vegetable

One big pinch red pepper flakes, optional

Salt and pepper to taste

Here’s how:

The secret to this soup is the sauté. Put 1 tablespoon oil in a large soup pot on medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until nearly translucent. Add carrot and sauté for 3 minutes. Add celery and continue to cook for another 3 minutes, adding more oil as needed. Remember, you’re not cooking the vegetables now, just sautéing for the scrumptious flavor it imparts. If you get a little golden color, that’s fantastic!

Add the garlic and mix it together for about 1 minute. Add cabbage and stir. I add a little salt and pepper now. Cook until the cabbage begins to wilt. Add the tomatoes and mix it all up. Add the green beans, potato if using, broth and pepper flakes.

If you’re putting this in a slow cooker to finish, dump it in now and set to low for 6 to 8 hours.

To finish on the stove top: Let it come to a boil then turn heat down to low.

Let this gently simmer away until the vegetables are tender and the soup smells divine, roughly 30 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste at the end because as the soup reduces it concentrates the flavors, including salt. You can replace half the broth with water to reduce the sodium.

Of course, you can add any vegetables you like to this soup, but I concentrated on lower carb vegetables. Strong tasting vegetables like broccoli or asparagus tend to overpower the other flavors.

You can change the flavor by adding these ingredients to the hot soup, by the bowl or small pot.

Mock Minestrone: White beans, big handful of spinach, cooked ditalini or small shell pasta and Parmesan cheese.

Cabbage roll: Cooked hamburger, rice and a splash of Worcestershire. Finish with a dollop of sour cream.

Southwest: Add shredded cooked chicken, black beans, corn and a dash of cumin and chili powder. Top with shredded cheese.

Greek lemon chicken: Cooked shredded chicken, orzo or rice, dried or fresh oregano and a big squeeze of lemon.

Lifestyle expert Patti Diamond is a recipe developer and food writer of the website “Divas On A Dime – Where Frugal, Meets Fabulous!” Visit Patti at www.divasonadime.com and join the conversation on Facebook at DivasOnADimeDotCom. Email Patti at divapatti@divasonadime.com.

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