For some reason, when I want soup, I usually make some version of lentil. I cannot for the life of me make a good chicken soup. No matter what I do, or how many fresh herbs I use, etc., it ends up tasting like dish water! Aside from the lentil, my other go-to soup is Vegetable, and it's definitely soup season - brrrrrrrr!
2 T butter
2 T EVOO
2 carrots, small dice
3 celery stalks, small dice
1 lg onion, small dice
1 red, yellow or orange bell pepper, small dice
1 clove garlic, minced (or about 1 t jarred minced garlic)
2 t dried basil
2 cans diced tomatoes (I use Delmonte Zesty Jalapeno)
2 t salt
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
1/4 t cayenne pepper
2 cartons (32 oz ea) beef broth
1 1/2 c fresh green beans, chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
1 can artichoke harts, quartered
1/4 c fresh chopped parsley
small pasta (orzo, stars, alphabet, etc.)
Saute the carrots, celery, onion, pepper, and garlic in the olive oil and butter until the onions are translucent and the carrots begin to soften.
Add the tomatoes, oregano, basil, salt, pepper, and cayenne and simmer for about 10 minutes or so.
Next, add the broth and the green beans and continue to simmer for about 20 minutes. You want to make sure all of the veggies cook, but since they cook at different rates, you don't want to put them all in at the same time.
Now you can go ahead and add the zucchini, artichokes, and parsley. Continue cooking for another 10 minutes or until the zucchini is at your desired consistency. I like everything to be crisp tender - especially if I'm making a large batch and know I'll be re-heating. I don't like my veggies cooked to death.
If you like pasta in your soup, I suggest cooking it separately. That way, you can add it when serving and it won't soak up a lot of your broth or get mushy if you won't be eating all of the soup. I tend to make big batches of all of my soups and spaghetti sauce so I can freeze a bunch to have on hand for another time.
Of course, if you're a vegetarian/vegan and want to forego the beef broth, you can opt to use either vegetable broth or equal parts tomato juice (or V8) and water.
To serve, grate a little fresh Parmesan over the top and maybe give it an additional sprinkling of fresh parsley or a shot of your favorite hot sauce...that'll warm ya up!! :)