This is the type of soup that doesn’t really have any set measurements or ingredients.  Aside from the aromatics like onions, garlic, and celery that should be included in this recipe, it’s a “throw in any kind of veggies you like” soup especially if you are cleaning out your fridge/freezer.  These just happen to be the veggies I ended up using.   You can make this completely vegetarian by using vegetable stock instead of a meat-based stock.   And it’s perfect for those cold rainy and/or snowy days when all you want to do is stay warm and cozy indoors with a blanket, roaring fire, and good book!

Ingredients

3 cups water
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
6 celery stalks, chopped (include the leafy tops for extra flavor)
6 medium sized carrots, peeled and chopped
1 cup frozen sweet peas
1 cup frozen sweet corn
14.5oz can diced tomatoes
15.5oz can red kidney beans, drained
15.5oz can garbanzo beans, drained
1 ¼ cup uncooked brown rice
2 bay leaves
Fresh ground black pepper
Salt
Olive oil

Method

In a large soup pot, cook onions in about a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until onions are translucent.  Next add the can of diced tomatoes and cook for about 2 minutes.  Then add the water, stock, carrots, celery, corn, bay leaves, garlic, and beans.  Grind some black pepper in there and add a few pinches of salt (the stock may have some sodium in it so go easy with the salt, you can always add more later).  Cover and simmer over medium low for about an hour- stirring occasionally.  About 20 minutes before serving, add the rice so it cooks thoroughly (unless it’s “Minute” rice in which case, 10 min before).  Then about 5 minutes before, add the sweet peas so they remain a bright green color (if added too early they turn a muted “pea soup” color).  Remove bay leaves before serving.  Top with a little grated parmesan cheese and serve with some warm crusty garlic bread.

For the garlic bread, toast  a few slices of whole wheat Tuscan bread (Trader Joe’s has an amazing one) with a little butter.  Once toast is slightly browned and still warm, rub a clove of garlic over the surface of each piece.  You don’t need to use the entire clove; all you need is the flavor of the garlic.  It’s so delicious and beats the heck out of *gasp* garlic powder!
This soup can last for days in the fridge and be eaten all week or you can freeze the leftovers in small containers for later use.