Due to Popular Demand (thanks, Amber!) here is the super simple recipe for quick and easy vegetable soup that not only warms the cockles, but cleans out the fridge too. I learned from my boss' wife to just open a can of Campbell's and then tinker with it. So...
A can of Vegetarian Vegetable (or Minestrone or Vegetable Beef...you get the idea)...open and pour into your soup pot with the requisite can of water.
Open your fridge and look over the leftover containers. Mine happened to contain a can of refried beans, slightly dried out, but still usable. Sometimes there is leftover rice, or a smidge of yesterday's meat, or some spaghetti remnants. Dump in a judicious amount, you don't want to overwhelm the Campbell's, just dress it up. I had about 2 Tbs of refritos added to my can of soup the other day. Dried out beans don't sound too appetizing, right? but put them in and your soup suddenly has some texture and body.
I love fresh veggies in my soup! I grab the bag of frozen peas and another of sweet corn and dump a quarter cup or so into the soup pot. Hey! The soup is looking more colorful already.
My sweetie had some of those little bitty carrots leftover from a trip that were just drying out in the veggie drawer so I just chopped some up, added some water, nuked them in the microwave for about 8 minutes and dumped the result in the soup pot.
Somehow my spice rack came into view at this point and I chose to add a sprinkle of cumin and another of garlic powder, but I frequently choose some oregano or basil, it just depends on my mood.
Grammy had just dug her potatoes--little bitty guys--so I cooked them in my trusty microwave and chopped them up, skins and all, and added them to my bubbling pot. She and I both planted zucchini this year and while she is willing to add them to her cookie dough I believe you have to draw the line somewhere. Zucchini, after all is a vegetable. I love to grate my zucchini and microwave it with a little water, so I added a couple spoonfuls to my soup pot.
If I'm in the right mood, I'll start dinner early and let things simmer on the stove for ages. This was not one of those times...so I just ladled it into our biggest bowls, sprinkled some parmesan cheese on top and set them on the table. I put some whole wheat bread in the toaster for me and my sweetie grabbed the saltines for himself.
Twenty minutes, folks, start to finish. Savory, hearty, delicious, healthy and easy. We've been known to call it Kitchen Sink Minestrone because the best minestrone I've ever had (in a little restaurant along the Russian River in northern California) was constructed along those lines. This is one to play with and the ever-changing contents of the fridge make it fun. Remember, it's not brain surgery and Martha Stewart isn't gonna grade the end result. Enjoy!