Soup for a Cold Day

I make this soup so often that I know the recipe by heart - not that it's terribly hard to remember. I love it because you can add or leave out any ingrediets you like, and it helps use up vegetables that have been sitting around with nothing to do. Also, you can make it vegan, vegetarian, or with meat and it's just as good. And since it makes a huge pot, it freezes very well and keeps for a long time if you don't use meat. Here's the recipe:
Special Cold Day Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
6 potatos, quartered and thinly sliced
1 large onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, sliced
4 carrots, sliced
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
Coarse salt and ground pepper
3 cans (14.5 ounces each) vegetable or chicken broth
1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes, with juice
8 cups mixed fresh, canned, or frozen vegetables such as corn, green beans, lima beans, peas, cabbage, and zucchini, chopped or sliced (my favorite combination is corn, green beans, mushrooms, zucchini, and cabbage). Optional: 1 lb. ground meat, browned and seasoned to taste.

1. Heat oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add potatos, onions, carrots , celery, bay leaves, thyme, and Italian seasoning; season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring frequently, until onions are translucent, 5 to 8 minutes.
2. Add broth, tomatoes and their juice, and 3 cups water to pot; bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, and cook, uncovered, 20 minutes.
3. Add other vegetables (and meat, if using) to pot, and return to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, until vegetables are tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, as desired. Let cool before storing.

Easy and filling, and it keeps you warm. What more could you ask for? I like mine with toast to dip in it. :)


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