The luxuries of holiday cuisine are delightful, but all those rich dishes can take a heavy toll on the digestive system. To the rescue: a clean, fresh, nutritious and satisfying vegetable soup that you can customize to your personal taste.
Rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber, yet delicate in flavor, this soup relies on the freshest ingredients. It’s best with vegetables bought or picked on the same day you cook it; old veggies from the back of the drawer should be used in another recipe, such as a stock.
The second secret to this magically stomach-soothing soup is to cut the vegetables into equal-sized pieces and add each ingredient in the proper order, beginning with the densest veggies and ending with the lightest, so that all become perfectly cooked together.
I use very little dried seasoning in this soup — a hint of Moroccan harissa blend, a couple of bay leaves and a little salt and pepper — just enough to enhance, but not overwhelm the foundation flavors of cabbage, carrot and celery and the fresh note of Italian parsley.
With strictly fresh vegetables and water, this recipe can be prepared year-round and provides all the carbohydrates you need in a meal. To amp up the protein, swirl in a spoonful of whole-milk yogurt per serving.
We generally enjoy this soup as a first course, before a salad and some lean protein with a glass of wine for the cook. My boys love it, and I always feel like I’m getting more oxygen to my brain after I have some.
If you wish, you may add different vegetables to the basic mix: mushrooms, cauliflower and kohlrabi are good choices. Just be sure to cut them in 3/4 inch pieces and add them to the simmering soup at the appropriate time for their density.
You could even add a small tomato near the end of the cooking process, but please skip the eggplant and peppers — these nightshades will add unduly harsh notes, and may not be as easy on your stomach as the vegetables in this recipe. Broccoli is also too strongly flavored to play nicely with the other ingredients. If the soup were a symphony, broccoli would be a loud vuvuzela overwhelming the other instruments! I want you to taste the beauty in every individual bite.
Cleansing Vegetable Soup with a Hint of Harissa
10 cups water
1 tsp. sea salt, or to taste
2 bay leaves
2 cloves garlic, halved
1 medium beet, cut into 1/4-inch strips
1 small celery root, cut into 1/2-inch strips
2 medium carrots, cut into 3/4 inch pieces
2 stalks celery, cut into 3/4 inch pieces
1 medium turnip, cut into 3/4 inch pieces
1 medium onion, cut into 3/4 inch pieces
1 medium Mexican (light green) zucchini, cut into ¾ inch pieces
1 cup of cabbage, cut into 3/4 inch pieces
1/2 tsp. harissa powder
1 cup chopped Italian parsley
1/4 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
2 tsp. olive oil
Place water, sea salt, bay leaves, garlic and beets in a soup pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until beet is half-cooked. Add celery root, carrots, celery and turnip and simmer for about another 10 minutes. Add onion and zucchini and cook for another 10 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer until vegetables are soft.
Adjust seasonings and enjoy.