The Soup of 1000 Vegetables

The Soup of 1000 Vegetables

This is the method from an old Marcella Hazan minestrone recipe, and it's an economical use of your time, and also a great way to get lots of flavor into the soup, since everything gets to sauté for a nice long time. A really good bowl of soup is less of a recipe than a formula. And the formula is this: a beany something + a starchy something + a tomato something + loads of random veggies + broth. You begin sautéing whatever onion/garlic type thing you're going to use, and then you prep the veggies one at a time and add them to the pot and stir them as they're done.

Hands-On Time: 20 minutes
Ready In: about 2 hours
Yield: 6-8 servings

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 bunch leeks, including their greens, halved, washed well, and sliced thin
1/2 onion, diced
3/4 shallot, diced
kosher salt
1 clove of garlic, chopped
2 carrots, diced
1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed
2 1/2 zucchini, diced
1/4 of a large green cabbage, slivered
1 handful of green beans, sliced into 1-inch pieces
2 potatoes, unpeeled and diced
1 kohlrabi, peeled and diced
1 beet, peeled and diced
A few leaves of kale, center ribs removed, stacked and rolled up and finely sliced
1 cup tomato sauce
1 quart chicken broth
4 cups water, divided use
1/2 cup Israeli couscous
1 14-ounce can Great Northern beans, with their liquid
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
More olive oil


  1. In a very large soup pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-low heat and sauté the leeks, onion and shallot with 1 teaspoon of the kosher salt, stirring occasionally, while you start preparing the other vegetables.
  2. When the leeks and onions are wilted and translucent, around 5 minutes, begin adding the other vegetables as they're prepped, starting with the garlic, then adding them in vaguely the order listed, or else in some other order of your choosing, until they've all had a chance to be sautéed in the pot.
  3. Now add the tomato sauce and the chicken broth, along with 2 cups of the water, raise the heat to high and bring the pot to a boil, then lower the heat to low, cover the pot with the lid just barely ajar, and cook the soup, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour.
  4. Taste the soup, and add salt as needed, then add the remaining 2 cups of water, bring it to a vigorous boil, and stir in the couscous and the beans with their liquid and the vinegar. Cook another 20 minutes or so, until the pasta is tender. Serve, topping each bowlful with an additional spoonful of olive oil.

*Ingredient Tips
You can use any veggies here -- I had tons of odds and ends leftover from our farm share and various cooking projects, but you could use just 2 or 3 different veggies, or dozens of them. Honestly. If I'd had celery I would have added it; if I had it to over, I would have nixed the sweet potato.

Read more about Catherine making The Soup of 1000 Vegetables with her family.

See all recipes from Catherine Newman's "Dalai Mama Dishes" blog.

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