The Soup Diaries: Making Substitutions

Hearty Vegetable Soup

Hearty Vegetable Soup

It has been colder in Los Angeles the last few days than during any time in the previous twenty-three years. It has been a struggle for our farmers (particularly in the strawberry fields of Ventura County)  to save their crops from the ravages of frost. Whenever the weather gets cold, the thought of soup is never far from my mind, so I got on Google and went to work looking for a good vegetable soup recipe. Here is the one I found.

The above link contains the full recipe. What I thought would be interesting would be to present just the list of ingredients, annotated by how I diverged using substitutions, additions, and omissions:

  • 8 medium carrots, sliced –  I only had two large carrots
  • 2 large onions, chopped – Instead, I chopped up the white ends of two leeks
  • 4 celery ribs, chopped – I only had three small celery ribs.
  • 1 large green pepper, seeded and chopped – I used one and a half
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained – I used a 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes instead, which I prefer
  • 2 cups V8 juice – I just don’t think V8 juice tastes that good, so I skipped this altogether
  • 2 cups chopped cabbage
  • 2 cups frozen cut green beans
  • 2 cups frozen peas
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 can (15 ounces) garbanzo beans or chickpeas, rinsed and drained – Why drain it? I just dumped the can into the mix
  • 2 teaspoons chicken bouillon granules – I had some extra chicken stock, so I used about two or three cups of it
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
  • 1 teaspoon salt – I deliberately omitted this
  • 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • My addition: A half cup of my favorite Middle Eastern soup mix, made up of small particles of barley, lentils, split peas, alphabet noodles, and a few other things
  • My addition: Hungarian paprika, because it’s always good

The result is absolutely delicious, even though I didn’t add the Swiss chard (run through the blender with some of the soup liquid) which I usually do when I cook soup. There just wasn’t enough room in the stock pot.

Even then, I had enough to give a small pot of the soup to my 80-year-old neighbor to help see him through the cold snap.