Recipe: Winter's Best

Vegetable soup is a hearty way to take the chill out of the air.

By Hara Estroff Marano, published on January 1, 2011 - last reviewed on June 9, 2016

As winter digs in, few things make life feel cozier than a steaming bowl of soup. How about a tasty brew that provides lavish amounts of vegetables with an array of vitamins and functional factors? And one you can make and have on the table in less time than it takes to unwind from the day?

The beauty of putting a soup together quickly is that you preserve the nutrients and even enhance some of them. Cooking tomatoes may diminish the amount of vitamin C in the fruit, but it actually raises the level of the highly powerful antioxidant lycopene—heart-healthy and active against cancer. Lycopene is what gives tomatoes their vibrant color. Cooking not only increases the amount but makes it more biologically available. Studies show that cooking tomatoes for a half hour, as in this recipe, raises the lycopene content by 35 percent.

Another virtue of making soup is that almost anything you have on hand can go into it. Carrots that have been sitting in your fridge? Cooking water you saved (a good habit to get into) from steaming yesterday's vegetables? Toss it in the pot.

Hot Pot

Servings: 6-8

TOTAL TIME: 45 minutes

Use whatever vegetables you have on hand, but get used to stocking tomatoes (fresh and/or canned) and onions or leeks, for starters.


3 Tbsp olive oil

6 leeks, whites only, in half-inch slices

2 garlic cloves, chopped

4 large red potatoes, skin on, in half-inch dice

6 carrots, sliced thickly

4 ripe tomatoes, seeded and coarsely diced

5 sprigs fresh thyme

28-ounce can diced tomatoes, with juice

6 cups any combination of vegetable stock, chicken stock, beef stock, water

1 cup green beans and/or frozen green peas (or corn)

1/4 tsp kosher salt

1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper


  • Pour olive oil into heavy stockpot and heat gently.

  • Add leeks, garlic, and salt; stir and sweat them over a gentle flame for 5-7 minutes, until leeks are translucent.

  • Add carrots, potatoes, fresh tomatoes, and thyme leaves, and stir well.

  • Add stock, pepper, and diced tomatoes, and stir well.

  • Increase flame to high, bring soup to a boil, then immediately reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered for 15 minutes.

  • Add green beans, cut in thirds, and/or peas (or corn).

  • Simmer for another 15 minutes, until potatoes and carrots are tender.

  • Add salt and pepper to taste.

  • Ladle into bowls.