The Easiest Vegetable Soup Ever (It's Inexpensive, Too)
Good Eats and Cheap
In 2011 I crushed my right hand, and I was suddenly unable to grip items. I lost the ability to do almost everything with my right hand. Not being able to use my right hand was a problem, not just because I lost my job as a nurse, but because it also meant I could no longer chop my vegetables.
Chopping vegetables had always been a pleasant task for me. It gave my mind a chance to rest and made me pay attention to the moment, especially since I liked having all my fingers. I love to cook and chopping vegetables was essential for almost every meal I made. I have been frustrated ever since then by my inability to chop.
Slowly, I learned how to do more things without a right hand. My left hand got a little better doing tasks over time, but it was still not a right hand. Besides, my right hand would never put its fingers near my left hand holding a knife. It would be disastrous. Thus, one item I have been using more often is frozen vegetables. They come pre-chopped.
Are Frozen Vegetables as Good for You as Fresh?
After a while, I began to wonder which was better for me fresh or frozen vegetables. So I Googled, “Are frozen vegetables as good for you as fresh vegetables?” I found out that frozen vegetables may be healthier than fresh. Go figure. Frozen vegetables are flash frozen within a matter of minutes. Fresh vegetables, when factoring in shipping time, may be less fresh on arrival.
Vegetables do lose nutrients over time. That is why having a garden is the best way to obtain fresh vegetables. The fact that vegetables lose nutrients when they are frozen has turned into a myth because of improvements in flash-freezing. These days, vegetables do not lose many nutrients at all. Vegetables are frozen during the couple of days after they are harvested.
After studies were done and nutrients tested, scientists found out that there was essentially no difference in nutrients between fresh and frozen vegetables. Therefore, frozen vegetables were decreed as good as fresh. Canned food was included in the studies and, again, there was essentially no difference in nutrient value. Canned vegetables are canned within a couple of days of harvesting.
This soup can also be made with canned vegetables. I prefer to use frozen vegetables because I like the texture of frozen vegetables cooked, more than the texture of canned vegetables cooked. But, I know many people who prefer canned over frozen. This soup will be easy and delicious whichever type you use.
The man who invented flash freezing is Clarence Birdseye. He was an American living in Labrador (a part of Canada today) during the years of 1912 to 1915. Birdseye was conducting a fish and wildlife survey while also fur trapping to make ends meet. The Inuit there taught him how to ice-fish. Birdseye noticed that the fish he caught while ice-fishing froze quickly. When it was time to eat the fish, he was amazed that the fish tasted as good after being thawed as it was when eaten fresh. Thus the idea of flash-freezing food began to be.
Flash freezing, as it applies to vegetables, is a method that allows the vegetables to freeze very quickly, using either nitrogen or dry ice mixed with ethanol. Flash-freezing was invented by Clarence Birdseye in 1927. Before then the method of mass freezing food caused the food to freeze much slower. The slower method caused bigger ice crystals to form in the vegetables and more damage to cell structure. This made the vegetables seem mushy after cooking. Freezing vegetables rapidly (flash freezing) caused smaller ice crystals to form. The tiny ice crystals caused little damage to cell structure and resulted in surprisingly fresh-tasting vegetables that were not mushy.
Cost of Ingredients
Both the frozen Mirepoix Blend and Mixed Vegetables are inexpensive. The V-8 Juice may seem pricey, but when you do the math, the entire soup is very inexpensive. V-8 Juice is the one thing I do not substitute for store brand.
I looked at a Kroger’s Grocery Store in Ohio to get the following prices.
- Frozen Mirepoix Blend, Kroger brand, 12 oz: $1.39
- Frozen Mixed Vegetables, Kroger brand, 12 oz: $1.00
- V-8 Original 100% Vegetable Juice, 46 oz: $3.89
- Canned Mixed Vegetables, Kroger brand, 15 oz: $0.75
The total is $6.28 for the ingredients if you use the frozen mixed vegetables (using the canned mixed vegetables make the soup even more economical). An entire pot of soup will make enough to feed six adults. That means each serving is only $1.05. Plus, you only use about one-third of the V-8 juice, so your next two pots will only cost $2.39 for ingredients. This soup keeps well in the refrigerator for five days. It is my go-to soup for all occasions.
Kroger’s brand frozen mixed vegetables is a mix of peas, super sweet corn, green beans, and carrots. Any blend of mixed vegetables will work. The canned version of Kroger’s brand mixed vegetables contains all the same vegetables as the frozen, plus lima beans and potatoes. I love having lima beans in my mixed vegetables.
I have never seen a canned mirepoix blend. Mirepoix blend includes chopped onion, celery, and carrots. If you keep these items in your refrigerators, you can chop half of a medium onion, 2 stalks of celery, and a half a bag of baby carrots or 2 large carrots to substitute for the frozen mix. This was the chopping I loved to do. Chopping these vegetables used to take me about 20 to 30 minutes.
- 1 (12-ounce) bag frozen mirepoix blend (I use store brand, but you can use your favorite)
- 1 (12-ounce) bag frozen mixed vegetables
- 2 cups V-8 100% vegetable juice
- 8 cups water, plus additional 2-4 cups hot water for later
- Pour the V-8 Juice and the water into an 8- to 12-quart stockpot and gently stir to mix.
- Turn the stove top burner to high and place pot on it.
- Bring the pot to a boil.
- Add mirepoix mix and mixed vegetables to the stockpot, and stir together gently.
- Bring the pot to a boil again.
- Let the pot boil for 6 minutes.
- Turn the stove top to low or medium-low.
- Add any other ingredients.
- Cover and let simmer for 15 minutes.
- Stir and serve.
Step 1: Combine the Ingredients
The first thing I do is gather the ingredients. Since they all come from either the refrigerator or the freezer, the ingredients come together quickly. If I go slowly, gathering the ingredients may last two minutes. Next, I grab my big 10-quart pot and lid. I put the pot on the stove and turn the heat to high. I pour in the water, vegetables and V-8 Juice into the pot and stir around.
Step 2: Bring to the Boil and Simmer
Let the pot boil for six minutes uncovered, stirring a couple of times. Turn the stovetop to medium-low. Cover the pot and let it simmer for 15 minutes stirring occasionally. The soup is done after the 15 minutes. Check the soup to see if it needs salt. Add salt if needed. I never add salt because the V-8 Juice provides enough for me.
Photo GuideClick thumbnail to view full-size
- Add one tablespoon of oil to the water before boiling noodles if cooking separately. This will prevent the pot from boiling over.
- Use olive oil to keep cooked noodles from sticking together. After noodles are cooked and drained add one tablespoon of olive oil and stir well.
- I use my electric kettle to heat my water to boiling before adding it. I do this because I have an electric stove. I find it harder to get fluid boiling on the stove. I do not have this problem with a gas stove. Gas stoves allow much more control over heat compared to electric stoves.
- I make my noodles while I am waiting for the soup to simmer.
- After the soup simmers, you may need to add 2 to 4 cups of water. I usually heat 4 cups of water up in my kettle, after pouring the 8 cups of hot water into the soup pot. Then I let the hot water sit and I can have it available whenever I need it.
- If you put anything additional into the soup you need to adjust the nutritional information.
The easiest vegetable soup tastes marvelous with many different add-ins. Meats and vegetables of all types can be added into this soup. It is an excellent soup to use up leftovers. I also like to add beans in at times. My favorite types of beans are pinto, kidney and chickpeas.
Sometimes, I will put the pot on the stove on high and add 2 tablespoons of butter. I let that melt for 1-2 minutes on high heat. After putting the butter away, I open the mirepoix vegetables and put the whole bag into the pot with the butter. I let that cook on high for 3-5 minutes.
Then I add the V-8 Juice, the mixed vegetables, and water and follow directions numbered 4 to 10 in the steps below. It changes the nutritional information and adds cholesterol, but I like how the butter tastes.
This soup tastes great without any herbs or spices. You don't even need to add salt because the V-8 Juice has plenty of sodium. If you want to add spices and/or herbs feel free! This vegetable soup makes a wonderful base for flavor.
I always have spices in my cabinets, because I love the way herbs and spices subtly enhance the flavor of foods. This soup works well with many different spices and herbs. You can give it a spicy Mexican flavor or a warm Indian flavor. I choose more of a Mediterranean taste. Think of it as a tomato based soup to use as your canvas to cook on.
I add the following spices into the soup when I mix the water, V-8 Juice and vegetables together, before bringing it to a boil. If you forget to add the herbs and spices in at the beginning, you can always add them in later. When I forget the flavoring I add it as soon as I remember. I make sure to let the soup simmer at least 10 minutes after adding them.
- 1 teaspoon powdered garlic
- 2 tablespoons of Hungarian Paprika
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 teaspoons Italian Seasoning
- sometimes I add 1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper or red pepper flakes
Italian Seasoning Is a Blend of These Herbs
Let's Talk About Noodles
I love eating this soup with noodles. I think all pasta is good, but the pasta I prefer to eat with this soup are egg noodles. Noodles help to fill you up, and they stretch the servings from six to eight or 10. You may like a different type of pasta. Maybe you like tubes, bow-ties, or tulips, all of which would taste fabulous. I usually make half of the box or bag per pot of soup. Linguine and spaghetti will work just as well. I break my long noodles into thirds or fourths before cooking.
I always cook my noodles separately than my soup. I learned to do this because, in my opinion, noodles tend to swell up and get mushy when they are left sitting in the soup overnight. I prefer the noodles served separately so this does not occur. However, if you are going to finish the soup in one meal it is fine to cook the noodles in the soup. Just watch the level of the liquid in the soup. Add hot water if the soup's liquid looks low after cooking the noodles.
You will need to adjust the boiling time to the time needed to cook the noodles. I add the noodles after the first boil when I add the vegetables. For example, if I make the soup with tubes or spaghetti the boiling time will change to 9 minutes, leaving the pasta a little chewy. This extra chewiness will disappear after simmering the soup.
I have also eaten this soup with instant ramen noodles (the square one, not the one in a cup). I break the noodles into medium chunks and put them in a bowl. I then cover the noodles with the soup. It doesn't matter if they float. Let the soup and noodles cool for a three minutes then eat. The noodles are sometimes chewy, but are never mushy.
Gas vs Electric Stoves
I find electric stoves more difficult to use than gas stoves. I think it is much easier to control the heat on gas stoves. When you change the dial setting on a gas stove, the amount of gas is adjusted immediately and heat is either raised or lowered. When you change the dial setting on an electric stove, you have to wait for the stove top to cool or heat up. Even when you use gas, changing the dial from high to low will mean the soup takes a few minutes before the pot cools down enough to simmer. The burner/glass top takes longer than the pot to cool down. When I turn the pot to low to simmer, I do not worry about the fact that it is still boiling. You can walk away and come back later after the 15 minutes are up.
I, sometimes, will use 2 burners for one pot when using an electric stove. I keep one med-high, the other med-low. I set a small pot with some water on the burner I'm not using. As far as I can recollect, it is not a good idea to turn a burner on (gas or electric) with no pot. Nor should you heat an empty pot.
Easiest Soup to Make When Sick
I make this soup for myself when I am sick. It's total time to cook is about 20-25 minutes, with some time to sit down after getting all three ingredients into it. When I am sick I usually make this soup without the spices and herbs. I am just happy to have a soup I can make at home that is so easy and quick to make.
Cooking this soup with your children, letting them measure the V-8 Juice and water, is a wonderful way to introduce them to the cooking experience. They will also like it better when it is finished. You can ask them to stir and to change the heat setting. You will have to decide how much to let each individual child help.
If you want a quick, easy, and delicious meal, you will love this soup. I make it for myself when I'm sick, using just the three standard ingredients. I also make it when I am well. You can freeze this soup, although I do not recommend freezing it if there are noodles in it. The noodles will get mushy after freezing.
Please rate this soup and tell me how you like it in the comments.
Nutritional Information (Without Add-Ins)
|Serving size: 2 cups|
|Calories from Fat||0|
|% Daily Value *|
|Fat 0 g|
|Saturated fat 0 g|
|Unsaturated fat 0 g|
|Carbohydrates 18 g||6%|
|Sugar 8 g|
|Fiber 4 g||16%|
|Protein 4 g||8%|
|Cholesterol 0 mg|
|Sodium 227 mg||9%|
|* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.|