I recall a late fall day when I was out riding a trail withMecca after school. We were several miles from home when the sky became very dark. Sensing that a storm was coming, I did my best to engage Mecca to get us home quickly before the storm hit. About a mile from home, a heavy snow began to fall. Fortunately, the trail widened a bit, and I was able to canter Mecca, who easily obeyed the urging of my leg. By the time she was finally untacked and I was on my way to the house, I was freezing!

As I opened the door, I smelled something wonderful: my mom’s vegetable soup and freshly baked bread. Have I mentioned that my mom is a great cook? I loved her vegetable soup. I fixed myself a slice of thick warm bread with butter and a large bowl of hot soup. I sat at the table, dunking my bread into the soup’s broth, savoring every mouthful. I call my mother’s soup “Soul Soup” because of how warm and nourished I felt eating it. Although my mom used a beef base in her soup, I created a vegetarian version that my family and I just love. That same warm, safe, and grounded feeling I felt on that blustery and snowy day is still mine each time I sip this soup. When I prepare a pot of Soul Soup, I’m transported back in time to the days of being young and carefree. I love you, Mom!

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 to 10 button mushrooms, washed, stems removed, and thinly sliced
  • 1 to 2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced into 1-inch cubes
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 to 4 medium carrots, sliced into 1/2-inch rounds
  • 2 to 3 cups cauliflower flowerets (Try to make them the same size for even cooking.)
  • 2 to 3 cups cabbage, cubed
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced

Instructions:

In a large pot, sauté the onion in the olive oil. When the onion is translucent, add the bay leaves and mushrooms, stirring well. Next add the potatoes, pouring the water into the pot and bringing the soup up to a simmer. Now add the tomato paste and salt. Allow this to simmer for about 5 to 10 minutes before adding the carrots. After a few minutes, place the cauliflower into the pot, followed a few minutes later by the cabbage. Bring the soup back up to a simmer. After a few minutes, check the cauliflower. If it’s about 50 percent cooked, add the peas and garlic. Now stir the pot gently and taste the broth. Adjust the flavor by adding more salt, garlic, or tomato paste. Let the soup simmer on low until the vegetables are cooked to the tenderness you like. Enjoy with some buttered bread, crackers, or just as it is, full of goodness and warmth.