14 January 2012

Lunchtime soup : Green Vegetable Broth

I'll often find that our fridge's vegetable drawer becomes irritatingly full of bits of leftover vegetables.  It can get really annoying to have to ferret through several bags that have two broccoli stalks, or a handful of sugar snap peas, when you're trying to find the carrots.

This is exactly what happened when the Green Vegetable Broth was born.

I was digging my way through four or five such leftovers when I thought "it's a shame these can't be made into soup".  Which you may find a bit of a surprising concept, if you've ever made a broth similar to this.  The trouble was, I kept thinking along the lines of a thicker type of soup, or one that required blitzing.  Now I knew that a soup made from green veg. probably wasn't right up there in the ranks of desirably "mushy" soups, so I wasn't thinking any further.  Until, suddenly, I remembered Ramen soups.

Now Ramen soups aren't blitzed, nor are they thick.  A glimmer of hope appeared on my horizon.

What if .. I made up some vegetable stock, then cooked the vegetables lightly in it in soup-sized pieces?  It'd be a little bit like a green vegetable casserole unless I got the soup base right, but it was certainly worth a go.

I had a rummage in the fridge veggie drawer and hooked out all the bits of veggies that were getting in the way, or veggies that I anticipated we'd have some left over from.  I had quite a pile, by the end.  There were carrots (not green, but would introduce some lovely sweetness and colour), a leek, green beans, mange tout, tenderstem broccoli, peas and parsley.  Now that seemed like quite a haul, to me.  Definitely sounded like soup material.

I was just cooking for one (I felt sure that neither hubby nor son & heir would be enticed by either a thin soup or one made almost entirely from green vegetables), which meant I could freestyle without concern for others' likes and dislikes.

So, to begin with, I took a small saucepan and added a teaspoon or so of olive oil, to which I added the leek, which had been sliced finely.  I cooked that slowly, without browning, until it was softened.

Then I took the soup bowl I'd be using and measured out enough water into it, which I then decanted into the pan and began to heat to boiling point.

Whilst it was heating, I added some Marigold reduced salt vegetable bouillon powder (what would we do without that stuff?) - approximately 2 teaspoonfuls - and stirred until it dissolved.  (What I should have done, of course, was to boil a kettle and use boiling water).  It is worth noting here that most stock cubes make up to 400ml of stock from one cube.  Now I wasn't making anything like 400ml, but I was after a very flavoursome stock, so hence the greater amount in a small amount of water.  Had I have been using a stock cube, I'd have started with a half a cube and then tasted it, possibly adding the other half if the stock didn't seem flavoursome enough.  I also added a good quantity of ground black pepper.

Once the stock was boiling, I added a finely sliced carrot and left that to simmer for 5 minutes or so.

Simmer away, my beautiful free lunch!

Next in, was the stems of the broccoli (which I'd cut into four sections.  Leave the fluffy part (the flower heads) of the broccoli until later, as they don't take as long to cook) and the green beans.  Give them 2-3 minutes, then add the heads of the broccoli, the mange tout and the peas.  Continue to simmer until everything is tender, but not so long that you lose the vibrant green colour.

Lastly, chop the parsley finely and sprinkle that in.  Stir, then taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.  I found that I needed to add more salt at this stage - but then the bouillon powder was a low salt one to begin with.

Serve it up and eat it whilst feeling smug that a) you've managed to use up those annoying bits of vegetables and b) you've created a free lunch that not only tastes great, but is incredibly good for you!

I haven't written out the recipe below, as it all depends entirely on what vegetables you have left over in your fridge.  Just follow the cooking times for each and add them in cooking time order, and you'll be fine.

Another point worth noting is that if you are using an ordinary stock cube instead of a low salt stock cube, go easy on the salt until you've tasted it!

Soup - it's what leftovers were made for.



  1. Soups are definitely what leftovers were made for! I like this as a different soup, not thick as you say and nice and fresh. I must remember these Ramen type soups when I'm covered in vegetables.

  2. I could kick myself for not having thought to do it earlier, to be honest!


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