Sometimes our bodies send us very specific signs in the form of cravings. For example, my body tells me that it needs coffee at precisely 9:45 am each day. It knows that I will only let it have one good cup of coffee per day and so it waits excitedly for mid-morning - so much so that my colleagues even set their morning routines by it. (It also tells me that it needs chocolate, cake and/or chocolate cake when 3:30-itis strikes each day and is rarely satisfied by the apple it is offered instead, but c'est la vie.)
But sometimes our bodies resort to extreme measures if we ignore its little signals along the way. For some reason, my body has decided that the lurgy that sidelined me a month ago is not quite finished yet and I probably need more rest than I thought, so it's thrown in a head cold to remind me who's boss. While working from home today, I suddenly had a craving for my ultimate comfort food: vegetable soup. This thick soup has always been my family's cure for winter lurgies or cold weekends. You can make it as thick as you like and with whatever ingredients you have available. It's highly nutritious and makes a huge amount so you can either feed an army, if you have one, or freeze it in small portions and reheat as required.
Chop up any or all combinations of whatever fresh vegetables you have on hand and add to a 5L pot of boiling water. I usually start with a pack of vegetable soup mix. Today I also added 1 cup of chicken stock.
- 1 pack vegetable soup mix
- 4-5 litres water
- 1-2 onions
- 2-3 carrots
- 2-3 potatoes
- stalks of 1/2 a celery
- green leaves of 1/2 a silverbeet, shredded
- 400 g can of lentils, drained (chickpeas or cannelini beans also work well)
- handful of chopped fresh parsley
- salt and pepper to taste
- 500 g orzo, risa or maccheroni pasta
There's really no method to the madness of this vegetable soup other than to put firmer vegetables (carrots, onions, celery) in the pot first and progressively add the softer ones (silverbeet, parsley) while it is boiling, then finish with the pasta.
- Boil gently for about an hour or until vegetables are soft. Stir occasionally to prevent vegetables sticking to the bottom of the pot.
- Add pasta about 5 minutes before serving and cook until al dente. (It will continue to cook in its own heat.)
- Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese to serve.
- Freeze leftover soup in meal or snack sized containers and defrost/reheat as required.