So much better than the canned stuff.... I usually make this toward the end of the summer, when I can use the freshest of vegetables from the garden and the farmer's market, and freeze it in serving-size containers. But it is still good using winter-market or frozen vegetables. It's a forgiving recipe: vegetable types and amounts can be varied, depending on availability and taste. If you want a less chunky, more liquidy soup, you can add more broth (homemade broth is better). The chopping may seem like a lot of work -- but think the Zen art of food prep, and think of the ultimate reward. On the other hand, if you must, you may use a food processor very carefully (which I did this past summer when recuperating from eye surgery). Even vegetable-phobes (I won't reveal any names -- especially of a certain spousal type who claims to hate just about every vegetable in the soup, with the possible exception of carrots and corn -- will eat this happily. —louisez
garlic cloves, minced
stalks celery, diced
medium carrots, diced
medium parsnips, diced
small-medium zucchini, diced
small-medium (yellow) summer squash, diced
diced green beans, or combination green and wax beans
corn, cut from the cob
broth (vegetable or chicken)
chopped tomatoes (or 14.5-oz.can, with juice)
alphabet noodles, cooked slightly less than package directions, and drained well
sprigs thyme, tied together with kitchen string for easy removal
Heat oil in soup pot over medium-low heat. Add onion, garlic, celery, carrots, and parsnips, and saute till vegetables begin to soften (this may take 20-30 minutes). Add tomatoes, thyme, bay leaves, vinegar, broth, and bring to a simmer. Cook, partially covered, till vegetables are tender (this should take 30-45 minutes).
Add zucchini, summer squash, green beans, peas, and corn. Cook, uncovered, till these vegetables are tender (about 10-15 minutes).
Add spinach and cook a few minutes, until spinach is wilted. Remove bay leaves and thyme twigs.
Add noodles. Cook a minute or two, to heat through.
Soup will improve in flavor if refrigerated overnight, if you can wait that long.