Soups are so easy to make and so great for an easy healthy meal all year round. As a poor college student it was hard to come up with a healthy alternative to mac and cheese. Salads got boring by Friday. Luckily I had a clever roommate who introduced me to this classic. You can mix, delete, add ingredients, there are no rules here! Use a big pot; I have no idea how much this recipe makes maybe eight bowls, or more. You can freeze what you can’t eat for a quick meal later.

  • olive oil
  • one onion chopped up 
  • two-three medium carrots, chopped up
  • celery same goes
  • half cup red pepper chopped
  • half cup green pepper also chopped

Put a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in the pot. Warm it up. Then dump all the above ingredients in. Stir as it cooks for about five minutes until the onions get transparent looking. Then add:

  • One big can (36 oz) of tomato sauce (or puree)
  • Fill the can with water and add that
  • Small (15 oz) can of your favorite beans (kidney, great northern, garbanzo)

Stir this as it heats up over medium heat. Now the fun starts. Select seasonings to your taste. Some of my favorites:

  • Black pepper
  • Red pepper flakes, if you like the heat
  • Salt
  • Freshly chopped garlic (three or more cloves) or garlic powder to taste

Herbs and enhancements. Options:

  • sage
  • thyme
  • Herbes de Provence
  • rosemary
  • bay leaf
  • a dash of red wine vinegar or balsamic
  • A few spoonfuls of sugar
  • A few spoonfuls of lemon juice

 Add anything else you like:

         Half a cup each of peas, green beans, corn, mushrooms

         Half a cup of rice or pasta such as orzo, little elbow, risotto or bowtie macaroni

         Half a cup or more of beans such as kidney, Great Northern or Cannelini

Check the consistency, add more water if it’s too thick. Let simmer for about an hour.

Grab some crackers, sprinkle a bit of shredded cheese on top or a dollop of sour cream and you’re good to go!

Photo courtesy of Snowcat vis Flickr