This vegetable soup uses a little this and a little of that. My papou (grandfather) Pete Saltas would make it using whatever vegetables he found in the kitchen. Some call this the “kitchen-sink soup” because everything and anything goes in (except the kitchen sink).
To make this soup, start by giving the base vegetables a quick sauté, then just keep adding veggies to create layers of flavors. Don’t put everything in the pot at once and try to let each vegetable or vegetable combos cook alone for awhile before adding the next one. And as you should always do with soups or stews, the trick is to simmer your meal low and slow so flavors blend together. A Greek cook might call this process pantremeni, which means “to be married.” Start with tougher vegetables such as carrots, peppers, and cabbage, and then add those that take less time to cook such as mushrooms, tomatoes, and zucchini. For the broth, use a combination of vegetable stock, tomato sauce, olive oil and water. Depending on your own tastes, you could also add some red wine, or red wine vinegar, even tomato juice.
The point is, flavor is subjective–you can always start with this basic blend, then on future pots, add or subtract to your own preference. Just make sure your vegetables are always covered with liquid. Season with salt, pepper and plenty of oregano. Cook until the vegetables are tender, and you’re satisfied with the taste. And remember, soup always tastes better the next day.
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
½ cup carrots, diced
4 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 cup mini sweet peppers, chopped
½ cup cauliflower florets
½ cup broccoli florets
1 small cabbage, or ½ large head, finely shredded
1 zucchini, cubed
½ cup mushrooms, sliced
15 oz can diced tomatoes
15 oz can tomato sauce
2 (32 ounce) vegetable broth, more if needed
4 to 6 cups of water, more if needed
3 bay leaves
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons dried oregano
A pinch of crushed red chili flakes, or to taste
Red wine vinegar, for serving
Chopped parsley, for garnish
1. Start by prepping your vegetables, having them cleaned, chopped and ready to add to the pot. For the cabbage, cut and remove the stem and core of the cabbage. Clean and slice the cabbage in half and slice each half to create quarters. Thinly slice into small strips.
2. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions and carrots, and sprinkle with pepper and oregano to taste. Cook until vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for another 5 minutes.
3. Add the cabbage and vegetable broth to the pot. Let it cook alone for 30 minutes or, the longer the better, I think. I do this because I think cabbage gives a special flavor to soups and I want it to dominate. Next add broccoli and cauliflower and let those cook into the soup. Pour in as much fluid as needed to cover the vegetables. You’ll keep adding more vegetable broth and water along the way as needed. Cook this round of vegetables for approximately 20-30 minutes, to build flavor.
4. Add the remainder of your “softer” vegetables: zucchini, mushrooms, diced tomatoes and tomato sauce. Add bay leaves and chili flakes, and season well with salt, pepper, and oregano. Add vegetable and water to cover the vegetables.
5. Continue to slow simmer for 1 hour (or as long as you can), or until the vegetables have softened and you’ve reached your desired taste and soup thickness level.
6. Stir in the red wine vinegar at the end to taste. Top with chopped Italian parsley.
Add extra flavor or liquid:
This vegetable soup has a mild flavor to fit most palates. Here are a few ideas of additions you can add:
-For a spicy kick add V8 juice (I prefer spicy V8), a hot sauce such as tabasco, or simply use more chili flakes.
-Tomato sauce will keep your soup neutral.
-To sweeten things up, a couple squirts of Ketchup works nicely.
-Other vegetable ideas include eggplant, peas, corn, potatoes, celery—whatever you like or have lying around. Just judge what you think should go in at any given time. For example, add the celery to sauté at the very start, and add eggplant the same time as you would zucchini. And so on. Try it and have some fun!