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Inspiration in a Bag

Have you ever noticed during long, cold winter days how the thought of having a bowl of warm soup for dinner can make things seem just a little better? I don’t know if I’ve ever met anyone who didn’t have some sort of favorite soup. Soup can be simple or extravagant - but one thing is sure: it’s always yummy!

With that in mind, you can probably imagine my delight when I received my Melissa’s soup starter kit in the mail. It arrived on a Thursday afternoon, which gave me a couple of days to decide what to do with my little bag of inspiration. Would I make a creamy soup, like our family favorites— potato with dumplings or butternut squash with coconut milk and ginger? Or something quick and brothy so that I could enjoy it for lunch that same rainy Saturday?
As I laid out the contents of the bag— carrots, zucchini, russet potatoes, celery and yellow onion—on the counter, I decided I would make a slow-cooked vegetable soup and enjoy it the next day. The slow simmer gives veggies time to infuse and meld together to create a soup with plenty of flavor and enough leftovers to pack for lunches or put away in the freezer.

First, I washed and chopped the russet potatoes and carrots, then laid them out in a roasting pan. I drizzled them with a bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper and popped them into a 400F oven to roast while I prepped the other veggies—about 30 minutes.

Next, I cut up the celery, onion, and zucchini and sauté them in a large soup pot with olive oil and garlic. Once the onions were just starting to turn translucent, I added the oven-roasted potatoes and carrots along with organic vegetable broth, fire-roasted tomatoes, and the other seasonings. After a good stir, I turned the heat to low, covered the pot, and let the slow cook magic begin.

After a rainy-day swim, several rounds of stirring, Caesar salad prep, and a family pumpkin-carving session— about 4 hours, all told the soup was done. It was rich, warm and definitely yummy.

Serve with some cheddar-garlic biscuits and settle into a nice relaxing lunch or dinner.

Sometimes it only takes a little imagination and some simple ingredients like the soup starter kit to create something that can make your day or week! I know it made mine— how ‘bout yours?

Image of Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 organic yellow onion, diced
2 organic carrots, scrubbed and sliced into ½ inch rounds
6 organic celery ribs, sliced
4 organic cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh organic parsley
28-ounces can organic fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
3 cups diced organic Russet potatoes (about three large medium potatoes, peeled, and dice into 1-inch-thick cubes)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper, or to taste
4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
dill or parsley, finely chopped, for garnish
fresh lemon juice, for serving

Preheat oven to 400F. Arrange Russet potatoes and carrots on a roasting pan and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake for about 30 minutes, until veggies are soft.

In a large soup pot, heat olive oil and garlic until fragrant—over medium-high heat. Add celery, onion and zucchini and sauté until the onions just start turning translucent. Add the oven-roasted potatoes and carrots along with organic vegetable broth, fire-roasted tomatoes and dried seasonings and spices.

Bring to boil, then cover and simmer on low heat for about 4 hours.

Finish with fresh herbs and a squeeze of lemon.

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