This is definitely one of those “you can put pretty much anything in here” soups.  Need to clear out the fridge and/or pantry? Great! I’m almost hesitant to post any ingredients at all, since you can absolutely just chuck in pretty much whatever you want.  It will still turn out just fine!  My fridge was actually rather bare the day I made this soup, so there’s not as much “fun stuff” in my version, but it was still quite tasty!

The Goods:

mirepoix: onions, celery, carrots, all diced (any size chunks you like – the bigger the chunks, the longer you’ll need to cook)

garlic, minced

olive oil, butter, or other fat of choice

tomato paste

something in the tomato puree category: canned crushed or pureed tomato is just great! I happened to have about half a gallon of gazpacho leftover, so I just tossed that right in!

vegetable stock or equivalent in water and bouillion or paste. (you could also use chicken stock, if you’re not aiming for vegan/vegetarian)

dried oregano, thyme, and basil

salt and pepper

rice (any kind is great! Arborio (used primarily for risotto) gives a great creaminess to the finished dish.)

other good options: peas, corn, spinach, asparagus, zucchini/summer squash, mushrooms…

The method:

In an appropriately-sized soup vessel (I use a really big pot because I’m feeding 20 people at a time), heat your fat. Toss in your mirepoix and garlic and get that moving around. Sautee at least until the onion goes slightly translucent, but you can even keep going until your veg starts to caramelize a bit.

Add in your tomato puree, and enough stock to cover your veg by a bit. Add some salt, pepper, and your dried herbs, and bring the whole lovely mess to a boil.  Drop it down to a simmer, and let it bubble away until the carrots are tender. Add more stock if it’s drying up too fast, and add some tomato paste if you’d like to thicken it up a bit. You don’t want it too thick at the start; remember you’ll also be cooking rice in the soup and that will thicken it up and absorb quite a bit of soup too.

Right, so, about 45 min before you want to serve the soup, throw in a handful or two of rice. Keep your soup at somewhere between a simmer and a low boil until the rice is cooked – you’ll want to stir things as you go along to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom in your pot. Taste and adjust seasonings before serving.

Want to add other things? Things that take a while to cook and/or absorb a lot of flavor like mushrooms or potatoes or zucchini can go in when the rice goes in.  Quicker cooking things like frozen corn or peas can go in after the rice is done cooking – that will prevent them from getting overcooked by the time you’re ready to eat.

I served my vat of soup with freshly baked soda bread, but this would be great with any sort of fun dipping thing – breadsticks, sourdough, crackers, pretzels, or nothing at all, if you’re watching your carb intake.