You will likely be hard-pressed to find a culture that doesn’t have their own version of a hearty vegetable soup. It’s pretty much a “just add water” technique for stretching out available produce to feed a hungry family a nutritious meal.
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The ironic thing is that soups like Hortosoupa (hor-TOH-sou-pah, which simply translates to vegetable soup) were once considered a peasant’s meal not fit for fine tables. Yet now we realize that these humble dishes are not only delicious, but are incredibly healthy and nutritious. Thanks to our knowledge about the role that the Mediterranean diet plays in longevity and quality of life, this is now haute cuisine!
Many vegetable soups incorporate some sort of “starch” ingredient to help thicken the broth. Typically rice or pasta are used for the job, but in this case it’s potatoes. It’s not uncommon to see people smash the potatoes in their bowl to thicken the soup, but of course a nice chunk of bread will work just fine to soak up the broth!
Hortosoupa (Greek Vegetable Soup) Recipe
All the quantities below can be adjusted to your preferences, so feel free to customize a little!
- 1 lb. onion, sliced
- 1/4 cup olive oil, extra virgin preferred
- 4 – 5 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 1 1/2 lb. carrots, peeled and sliced
- 1 1/2 pounds fresh tomatoes, cut into chunks (or equivalent canned diced tomatoes)
- 1 lb. fresh celery, trimmed and sliced
- 1 1/2 lbs. potatoes, peeled if the skins are tough, and cut into bite sized chunks
- 1 lb. green cabbage or Brussels sprouts, sliced into small pieces (this isn’t always used in the typical hortosoupa recipe, but it adds good flavor!)
- 1 cup packed chopped fresh parsley
- 6 – 8 cups water or broth (vegetable or chicken are good options)
- salt & pepper to taste
In a large stock pot, saute the onions in the olive oil on medium heat until they are translucent and just beginning to brown. Add the garlic and continue to cook for a minute more.
Add the remaining ingredients to the pot, using the preferred amount of water. You want the vegetables to at least be submerged. Turn the heat to high and bring almost to a boil, then drop the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Cover the pot.
Cook the soup until the carrots and potatoes are tender and add salt and/or pepper to your desired taste. That’s it! Enjoy!