ISSUE 52  |  Best of 2014

Recipe: Irresistible Vegetable Soup in 30 Minutes or Less

December 31, 2014 7:30 PM

BY Michelle Slatalla

Soup for supper? It’s my first first choice most days. But a hurried weeknight is not the time to try out a new soup recipe. Or any recipe, for that matter. You won’t need to if you can remember three magic numbers: 4, 2, 1. 

  • 4 cups chopped vegetable 

  • 2 cups stock

  • 1 cup dairy

That’s it. Three ingredients. Works with any root vegetable. It only takes 30 minutes to make. And it’s a lot of fun to experiment with ingredients. Here are a few variations I’ve made so far this month:

For ingredients and step-by-step instructions, see below.

Want more Easy Dinner Ideas? Try our Kale Salad With Apples and Almonds or our Celeriac Gratin With Thyme and Gruyere

Photographs by Michelle Slatalla except where noted.

Above: One night last week I got stuck in rush hour traffic, arrived home after dark, and learned that electric power had been shut off to my whole town for much of the day. Soothing solution? Soup for dinner. I made carrot soup, using 4 cups of chopped carrots from the crisper drawer, 2 cups of chicken stock I found in the freezer, and 1 cup of whole milk. I also had some scallions lying around, so I added them to the mix for flavor.

Above: Half an hour later: carrot-scallion soup.

Above: The other night I was craving spicy, curried Indian food. Soup solution? I made cauliflower soup, flavored with toasted turmeric seeds from the pantry and parsley from my winter garden.

Above: This is such a forgiving recipe. When I say “4 cups of chopped vegetable,” that means a situation that looks like this.


Above: Curried cauliflower soup made with turkey stock from the freezer. I sprinkled chopped chives on top.

Above: Photograph by John Merkl.

Ever since I canned my garden tomatoes, I’ve been hoarding the precious jars for something special. Soup is special. I combined 4 cups of canned tomatoes (plus their juices) with chives from the depths of the refrigerator to create…

Above: Cream of tomato and chive soup. Made with my own garden tomatoes, this tasted like the essence of pure tomato. Only slightly better (because of the cream). You can also use canned tomatoes.


4-2-1 Vegetable Soup

Serves 4


  • 4 cups of any raw root vegetable (or combination of vegetables, depending on what you have lying around), such as cauliflower, broccoli, carrot, celeriac, potato.
  • 2 cups of stock (chicken, beef, turkey, and vegetable stock all work equally well–I’ve tried them)
  • 1 cup of dairy, such as heavy cream, whole milk, yogurt, or sour cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Chopped fresh herbs to taste


Chop four cups of vegetables and any herbs you feel like adding to the mix. Place in a medium saucepan on the stovetop, add stock, and simmer until vegetables are soft (about ten or 12 minutes).

Puree the soup, either with the help of an immersion blender or in batches in a food processor or blender. Routine to saucepan over low heat and stir in dairy (do not boil or the mixture will separate). Season to taste with salt, pepper, and any additional herbs or spices you like. Serve immediately.

Note: If you have any leftovers (highly unlikely), this soup freezes well.

Ready to move on to a 5-Ingredient Cocktail Party