Classic Vegetable Soup, Perfected with “Crusty” Bread

Now that fall is nipping at us here and there in Minnesota, I can’t help but think “soup!” As far as a budget friendly and healthy meal, there’s hardly anything that can beat a Vegetable Soup – and it’s such a classic, it doesn’t even read “budget” or “healthy,” it just reads “Good!”

Classic Vegetable Soup, Perfected

Classic Vegetable Soup, Perfected

I was watching “The Best Thing I’ve Ever Made” this week and came across Alton Brown’s Winter Vegetable Soup – the man said he spent years and years perfecting it in order to get great taste without using any chicken or beef stock. So what did I do?  I tweaked his recipe…Sorry, Alton!.

In Alton’s recipe, I was mostly intrigued by his additions to give a the soup a deep “umami” flavor – something I think is often lacking in a plain old vegetable soup. Alton borrowed a little from Asian, European and Italian cuisines with his additions of Soy, Mushroom and Parmesan cheese rind – and they did add that extra “sumpin” to my Classic Vegetable Soup, although I toned down the Italian influence.

This soup makes a super healthy meal, and while mushrooms aren’t an ingredient I would normally think to add, they really are great in this soup. Chop them finely and they’ll look like nothing more than specs of pepper.

A whole pot of this soup is under $3.00 to make, I can’t resist serving this with homemade, no knead “Crusty Bread” for about 35 cents more. (Mix the bread by hand the night before and bake the next day.)

Crusty Bread

Crusty Bread

Classic Vegetable Soup, Perfected

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 8 ounces mushrooms (buttons are fine) dried end of stems removed and chopped
  • 2 celery stalks with leaves, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 1 can whole tomatoes, crushed, with juice, about 28 ounces
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried sage or 2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary or one teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 1/2 quarts water
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • one piece parmesan rind, about 1″ by 2″
  • 1 1/4 pounds peeled potatoes, in about 3/4 inch dice (about 5 medium)
  • 1 pound green cabbage, sliced thinly, about 1/2 head
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Place 2 tablespoons of the olive oil into an 8-quart stockpot over high heat just until the oil shimmers. Add the mushrooms and saute until browned, about 5 minutes. Remove the mushrooms from the pan and set aside.

Decrease the heat to low, add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and the carrots, celery, onions and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 30 minutes. (I like to cook with the lid on for the first 15 minutes or so.)

Add the tomatoes and juice, crushing the tomatoes as you add them, sage, rosemary and garlic, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring to break up the tomatoes. Add the water, soy sauce and Parmesan rind, increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Turn down to a lively simmer for about 15 minutes.

Decrease the heat to low, add the potatoes and cabbage, cover and cook until tender, 30 to 35 minutes.

Return the mushrooms to the pot along with the vinegar and cook until all is heated through, about 10 minutes. Remove the cheese rind, add freshly cracked black pepper and serve.

Vegetable Soup freezes wonderfully – consider doubling the recipe and freezing half.

Makes about 4 quarts.

 from the kitchen of

Brown the mushrooms and onions well - they'll be the basis for the flavor.

Brown the mushrooms and onions well – they’ll be the basis for the flavor.

 Let’s talk about how to save money/time on this recipe:

  • Use a coupon matching site! One of my favorites in my area is Pocket Your Dollars, but every store has a group of enthusiastic Coupon Matchers. Do not discount the savings! I check their site every week, even if I don’t “need” to go to the store and often find bargains I can’t pass up.
  • Follow my 12 Strategies – You’ll see them on the upper drop down menu of every page and how I apply them, below.
  • Don’t get discouraged if your prices don’t match mine! Keep shopping at the best prices and your fridge/freezer and pantry will be stocked with sales priced ingredients.
  • Read Strategies for additional tips as well as throughout the recipe, for saving time and managing food.


(based on a two cup serving)  Cal:  159; cal fr fat: 62 (39%); tot fat 7g; sat fat 1g; chol 0mg; sod 978mg; pt 638mg; tot carb 22g; fib 4.5g;sug 5.22g; prot 3.98g

Put Your Own Spin on It:

  • Check out Alton Brown’s original recipe!

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