Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Not-Quite-"Free" Soup

  
Not-Quite-"Free" Soup

There is a vegetable soup that nearly anyone who has ever dieted has encountered. It's often referred to as "free" soup, because if you were counting points, this was made of all "free" foods. As much as I love vegetable soup, I never was fond of this one.

But recently I saw a "free soup" recipe on Southern Plate. Hers was seasoned differently than most (she uses crushed tomatoes and Ranch dressing mix) and it sounded good. Better than that old recipe. Today I needed something quick for lunch. And I wanted something that at least leaned toward healthy.

I had a half head of cabbage left from the Cabbage Casserole that Daddy-O loved a few days ago. There was also a half an onion in the refrigerator. And I had some packs of dry Ranch Dressing mix left from making the 3-Packet Pot Roast last week. I didn't have the frozen beans and okra used in the Southen Plate recipe, so I used what I had here. I had a bag of frozen soup vegetables in the freezer. The biggest difference in those and frozen mixed vegetables is that the soup vegetable mix contains okra. I used that as my starting point, in place of the frozen okra and frozen green beans.

This soup was considered "free" because it traditionally contained no starchy vegetables, like corn, peas, potatoes, lima beans, etc. The frozen soup vegetables do have some of these, but not many. And I didn't add any more of them, like I do with my usual soup. All of the cabbage added to the pot means that you don't have many of the starchy veggies in your bowl. It's certainly healthier than many other lunch choices I could have made.


NOT-QUITE-"FREE" SOUP

1 16- oz bag frozen vegetables for soup
1/2 head cabbage, finely chopped
1 onion, diced (I only had a 1/2 onion)
1 15-oz can cut green beans
1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
1 pkg dry Ranch Dressing mix
5-6 cups water
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Put all ingredients into a pot. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 45 minutes or longer, until vegetables are as tender as you like them.

I tried to approximate the amounts of vegetables used in the Southern Plate recipe, but I had to stop adding more when my pot was full! The recipe above filled a 4-qt. pot to the brim. As with most soups recipes, there is ample room for adjustments. Make it your own.

The verdict? Definitely better than the watery, cabbage-flavored free soup of yesterday. I'll make this again. The crushed tomatoes make a nice, thick soup base. The dressing mix adds flavor. Southern Plate says this soup will keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Nice to know my lunch is taken care of for the rest of the week. 

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