Jen’s Hearty Vegetable Soup

This is my own recipe which was inspired by a similar one I found on-line. I just added a lot more vegetables, replaced the bouillon cubes with broth, used a bit more water, and made other changes until the recipe became my own. It makes a very hearty, nutritious, and delicious soup that can be enjoyed for days. It’s also very adaptable and the ingredients can be modified to suit your taste. Since some of the ingredients already contain sodium, I do not add any additional salt to this soup – but again, you may add it to satisfy your own taste buds.

1 lb. lean ground beef, ground turkey, or Italian sausage (or a combination)
2-3 cloves garlic
1 cup chopped onion
2-3 stalks celery, chopped
1 cup EACH chopped green and red pepper
28 oz. canned whole tomatoes (undrained)
3 15-oz. cans kidney beans (drained and rinsed)
1 large can low-salt broth – chicken or vegetable
8-12 cups of water (see note)
1 15-oz. can tomato sauce
3-5 Tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce
1 medium head cabbage, shredded
Broccoli florets
Sliced carrots (or baby carrots cut into 1/2-inch pieces)
Zucchini, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
Greens and/or fresh spinach (I buy the big bag of greens at Trader Joe’s)
Salt and pepper to taste
Grated Parmesan or Mozzarella cheese (optional)

Cook meat in olive oil in large pot until no longer red; drain excess oil if necessary. Saute garlic, onion, celery, and peppers.

Add remaining ingredients EXCEPT zucchini, greens, and spinach. Heat to boiling point, turn down heat and allow to simmer about 1 hour or until carrots are barely tender.

Add zucchini and simmer for 15-20 more minutes until just tender (do not overcook).

Add greens and/or spinach, stir well.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Ladle into bowls. If desired, top with grated Parmesan or mozzarella cheese.

NOTES:

  • Use more or less water depending on the thickness or amount of soup you prefer. I use 12 cups for a thinner soup that lasts a bit longer and provides more liquid for cooking the vegetables. Less water yields a thicker soup.
  • Add pasta during the last 10 or so of cooking time. However, consider that each time you reheat the soup, the remaining pasta cooks longer and will turn mushy. Instead, cook additional pasta on the side and add to the soup at serving time.

Makes a big pot o’ soup!

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