Winter Veggie Stew: A study in orange

This soup is flavorful and warming, and on a cold winter’s night, a welcome supper.

It has been grey here in Vermont. Tuesday, we had a bit of sun for a while, but for the most part, the last two weeks have been black and white with a bit of holiday red tossed in. The weather has fluctuated from warm with melting snow to frigid cold. This is not the picture postcard of our state that captivates many.

Let’s sit by the fire

            It’s hot tea and stay inside weather, maybe sit by the fire. This week is also the purge of the refrigerator and pantry in the wake of the holidays, and that means soup. I had lots of bits left over from our feasts, and soup making is a great way to clear things out for the new year.

            My crisper drawer held a rutabaga, lots of carrots of varying states of freshness, a couple of cups of shredded cabbage left over from slaw making, a sad little orange pepper and wilted bunch of scallions, the remnants of a large knob of ginger, and a pint of red and orange cherry tomatoes. It struck me how much orange was in the drawer, and some orange lentils from the pantry rounded it out! A sunny color on a grey day, a study in orange, I’m all for that!

The art of making soup

            This is how I made the soup this week and I don’t really think of it as a recipe as much as a technique. Soup making should be done by the feel of it once you get the idea, and it’s always a great way to use those little leftover bits and bobs. So many veggies you could use here! What do you like? You need aromatics, something starchy and substantial, a little extra protein, here I’m using lentils, and the herbs and seasonings that make each pot unique and flavorful. You can swap out any other herbs you like; curry spices would be wonderful here.

Waste not

            When making soup, toss all the trimmings from the vegetable prep into a saucepan and make some stock. It’s always different, and I love that I’m making use of what is often thrown in the trash. Plus, the stock will only enhance the flavor of the soup because you make it from the vegetables in the soup.

Let it become a habit

This is what my mother did, and her mother before her. It becomes a habit that takes no time at all. So, while you peel and chop everything up here, add them to a stock pot. Of course, you can always use purchased stock, or even just water, but you’ll miss out on a little fun and the good feeling of making use of every bit of your produce. 

If I’m not making soup that day, I’ll collect the trimmings in a container in the refrigerator to make later, or I’ll go ahead and make up a quick stock, save it in a canning jar, and use it in making rice, etc., during the week.

Let the soup do the work!

            This is a crowd pleaser. Vegan, dairy- and gluten-free, heart healthy, low fat, and packed with tons of nutrition and flavor. While this looks like a lot of ingredients, most of the work is in the chopping, the rest of the time you’ll let the soup gently cook itself.

Winter Vegetable Soup: A Study in Orange

For the soup:

  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 large onion or two small, sliced
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 stalks celery, minced 
  • 4 fat cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1-inch knob of ginger, finely minced
  • 2 tbsp. tomato paste
  • ½ tsp. hot Hungarian paprika
  • ½ tsp. dried thyme, crushed
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 sweet orange pepper, diced
  • 10 oz. button or crimini mushroom, quartered
  • 1 rutabaga, peeled and chopped
  • ½ cup orange lentils
  • 2 cups shredded cabbage
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 quart vegetable stock (you’ll make this)
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, half of them halved
  • 1 can light coconut milk

For the topping:

  • 8 – 10 large mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 4 fat cloves garlic, finely minced
  • ½ tsp. paprika
  • Pinch of salt and paprika

Prep the vegetables: Cut off the ends of the onion, peel it, cut in half and slice. Place the peelings and root in the stock pot. Peel the carrots, cut off the ends, slice them in rounds and place the trimmings in the pot. Slice the celery stalks and place the top leaves and root ends in the pot. Mince the garlic and ginger and put the trimmings in the pot along with the mushroom stems and rutabaga peelings (if not waxed). Chop mushrooms in quarters, and chop rutabaga.

Make the stock: Add six cups of water to the stock ingredients along with two bay leaves, a star anise, a half teaspoon of salt, a few grinds of pepper, and a pinch of thyme. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for a half hour. Strain and set aside.

Make the soup: Heat olive oil in a soup pot and add the onions, carrot, and celery. Sauté for about five minutes, until the onions begin to soften, then add the garlic, ginger, tomato paste, paprika, and thyme and let these all bloom and become flavorful, stirring all the while. Things are starting to smell pretty good just about now.

Add the water to deglaze the pan, scraping up the fond from the bottom of the pot. Add the pepper, mushrooms, rutabaga, lentils, and cabbage. Season with salt and pepper. Add the stock, bring to a boil, cover, reduce to a simmer, and let cook away for about 30 to 40 minutes, or until the lentils are cooked and the cabbage nicely wilted. While the soup is simmering, make the garlic mushroom topping, below.

Add the cherry tomatoes and continue to cook until they break down. Remove from the heat, stir in the coconut milk, taste, and correct the seasoning if necessary.

Serve with some crusty bread and a topping of the crispy garlic mushrooms.

Crispy Roasted Garlic Mushrooms

Preheat the oven to 450. 

Place the ingredients on a rimmed baking sheet and mix them up with your fingers so everything is evenly coated. Spread into a single layer.

Roast for five minutes, turn, and roast another five minutes or so, until the garlic is nice and crispy and mushrooms cooked through and browning.

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“That bowl of soup—it was dearer than freedom, dearer than life itself, past, present, and future.” 

~ Alexander Solzhenitsyn, “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich”

60 Comments Add yours

  1. Love a good colorful vegetable soup!

    1. I know! It always feels rejuvenating, doesn’t it?

  2. BERNADETTE says:

    You are absolutely right Dorothy. The best soups are made with a bit of this and that and tasting as you go along.

    1. Thanks Bernie! That’s the only way to do it in my book!

  3. Happy and blessed New Year, Dorothy! Aw, all your recommendations are looking also very artistic. A great pleasure to re-cook. Thank you for sharing! xx Michael

    1. Thank you for stopping by Michael, and for your kind words! A Happy and Safe New Year to you and yours! 💕

  4. NativeNM says:

    There’s nothing better than the aroma of simmering soup on a winter day and then getting to warm up with a bowl full. Yum!

    1. I agree! The house really feels like home when there is soup simmering on the back burner.

  5. Sowmya says:

    The soup looks nutritious and delicious Dorothy perfect for the winter weather.

    1. Thank you Sowmya! It really hit the spot!

  6. I sure would enjoy this on a cold winter’s night. 🙂

    1. Thanks Judy! It warmed us to the bone as my mother would say!

  7. Nancy says:

    This is the perfect soup! Such delicious flavor and chunky pieces. Yum!
    I made a Everything in the fridge soup. I made a creamed potato, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus and chicken soup just the other day.

    1. That sounds perfect too, Nancy! Nothing like a nice creamed soup filled with all that flavor! Hearty and memorable.

  8. Simply [erfect for the cold weather!
    The topping of crispy garlic mushrooms is such a wonderful addition. I can see it on other dishes as well. 🙂

    1. Thanks Ronit! Yes, the topping is quite addictive. I think it would be delicious on roasted vegetables, mashed potatoes, fish! So many possibilities.

  9. Nancy says:

    I agree… the mushroom topping sounds amazing!

    1. I have to admit to adding a little extra to my bowl before I was finished….

  10. CarolCooks2 says:

    Just how I do it…A fridge/crisper soup and veggie stock always different and always warming especially with added croutons or shrooms as you have done…delicious!

    1. It’s the best way to cook – freestyle!

  11. I just love all the veggies you put in the soup! You must have a wonderful market where you shop.

    1. We are lucky to have a great winter CSA just a couple of miles from here. All winter, I can get potatoes, rutabaga, carrots, parsnips, onions, etc., all the roots, all organic, and they grow their own greens and have eggs and cheese as well. Plus, their frozen and canned produce from the summer. I know, I’m spoiled!

  12. Gail says:

    Your kitchen must smell incredible with all those flavors popping up through the steam. Yum-a-yum-yum! 😍🍃

    1. It was a lovely afternoon, and the best part was I didn’t have to go out in the cold.

      1. Gail says:

        Even better. That’s when I’m inspired the most. 😜

      2. I spent about an hour while the soup was simmering, with a cup of tea and a couple of magazines I have not had time to read for a while. Perfect.

      3. Gail says:

        Days like that are priceless. 🌟✨💫

  13. Chef Mimi says:

    Love this! Definitely hearty and warming for these cold months. I really love the cabbage.

    1. Thanks Mimi. Yes, the cabbage was surprisingly good in this soup! So glad I had it sitting in the refrigerator!

  14. What a creative and lovely soup! The roasted garlic mushroom garnish sounds amazing!

    1. Thank you! It was the best part of the soup experience!

  15. nancyc says:

    I love having soup in the winter—it really warms you up! This veggie soup looks so good, especially with the garnish!

    1. Thank you! We’re having it again for lunch today, only I think we gobbled all the garnish last night!

  16. Hi Dorothy, I really like the title of this recipe, as it is a wink to the name of a painting, and this soup does look pretty good (for a soup, LOL). I also really like the techniques you are using here: using up everything to make the stock, and sauteing the soup ingredients to develop the flavor. I never use cabbage for stock or soup because I fear it will taste or smell cabbagy (is that a word?).
    P.S. There is a typo “any other herbsy ou like” and you need to upgrade your copyright to 2022 🙂

    1. Oh my! Thank you for the spotting the typo and I really should get with the right year!
      I did not put any cabbage trimmings in the stock, but I was amazed at how the cabbage added a sweetness to the soup but not a lot of “cabbagy” flavor! 🙂.

    2. P.S. I’m glad you got the painting reference. I also almost called this “A Study in Orange and White” which is a poem by Billie Collins, one of my favorites. But it didn’t sound as good!

  17. Ally Bean says:

    Orange lentils? I don’t know about them. Your soup looks pretty and I’m sure tastes great… probably because of those lentils!

    1. The orange ones, technically a “red lentil” but they range greatly in color, red, orange, yellow, but the ones I have are definitely orange. This variety breas down and adds a lovely creaminess to the soup.

  18. capost2k says:

    Looks delicious, but this is what Chinese would call a stew. I find it interesting that when Anita and I met, “soup” to me was like this. Now I see soup as mostly a broth with just a little ‘substance’, if any.
    And if we ever get out of covid-time, we may come your way for a B&B with suppers like yours! 😀
    love and prayers, c.a.

    1. There is a fine line, isn’t there, between soup and stew, but I know I generally think of stews as having meat and slowing braising it with veggies in a liquid? This is probably hearty enough to be considered a stew, but most importantly, it’s tasty and very welcome in our cold Vermont winter!

      1. capost2k says:

        Anita and I will look forward to it if we visit Vermont in autumn or winter. 😉

      2. You will love our beautiful state!

  19. I love that your winter soup is a veg soup. Refreshing! And homemade stock – can’t beat that.

    1. Thanks Jeff! ‘Tis the season for beautiful local root veggies and they are easy to make a star of a soup!

  20. Americaoncoffee says:

    So perfect and savvy!

    1. It was certainly perfect for a cold Winter’s night!

      1. Americaoncoffee says:

        I have been souping myself! 👍👍💞💞

      2. Americaoncoffee says:

        There are too many cold Winters nights currently and soups are so nourishing, creatively tasty and healing.

      3. Thank you so much my friend! Soup warms the soul as well as the body!

      4. Americaoncoffee says:

        For sure! I need both benefits. ~🍲’ 🤗

      5. Americaoncoffee says:

        And it is an American staple food. ❤️

  21. terrie gura says:

    Mmm, I love the flavor lentils add to soup, and I love that they don’t get totally mushy if they simmer a little longer. This study in orange is perfectly in step with nature. We will have plenty of time for green soups when spring arrives!

    1. So true Terrie, there will be time for green again! I believe strongly in eating with the seasons, and that usually means local. Hope you have a safe and happy New Year!

  22. Looks and sounds utterly delicious!

    1. Thank you so much! We really loved this one.

  23. Here is hot but I wouldn’t mind a bowl of this hearty soup 🍲😋

    1. It’s definitely a satisfying comfort meal!

  24. Two excellent recipes, Dorothy. Your method for soup is similar to mine so that’s good news for me.

    1. It becomes a habit, doesn’t it? Not really a recipe, just a technique you don’t really have to think about, just experience!

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