HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Looking for a Reasonably Healthy Vegetable Soup/Stew Stew

I'm trying to find a recipe for a vegetable stew that:

1. Has plenty of vegetables
2. Doesn't have potatoes
3. Doesn't have cream
4. Doesn't have a lot of non-vegetable ingredients (i.e. more than a few spices or herbs; I'm an undergrad in college and it's really not practical for me to have a fully stocked pantry since I cook once a week)

It's getting cold here and I'm having trouble finding internet recipes that fulfill the above criteria. If no such recipes are found, maybe an explanation of why?


P.S. If you've got any recommendations for a good, reasonably healthy cookbook of soups, stews, and other relatively uncomplicated meals, I'd love to hear them.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. off the top of my head, butternut squash soup is one of my healthy favorites no cream or potato necessary. bean soup. stew is always a great bet as well, as is pea or lentil soup.

    i'll post back later with some more detailed suggestions if you don't get any responses, but in the meantime, just a tip that for any cream-based recipe. assuming you're trying to avoid adding too much fat, you can use fat free evaporated milk instead. works like a charm :)

    1. Hi there! All you need to do is buy any combination of veggies you enjoy, but you definitely want onions, carrots, and celery. Then what I'd do is buy a butternut squash, a parsnip, a turnip, maybe a large tomato; really, any vegie you care for. Rough chop all vegies and place in soup kettle. You can cover by half again with either water or canned vegetable stock, bring it up to a boil and down to a simmer. Toss a clove of garlic, a few peppercorns and a bayleaf into the pot. Remember that you are going to want to remove these, especially the bayleaf which can be dangerous. Cook till vegetables are done to your liking and have lent their flavor to your broth. Add a good handful of lentils or other legumes, or a grain (barley, rice, whatever) during the last 45 minutes of cooking. If stock seems too thin, try adding a heaping tablespoon of tomato paste. All you really need for this is salt and pepper; if you have any dried herbs on hand use your imagination but remember, this is vegetable soup, not herb and spice soup! At this point you've got some decisions to make: you can puree this, or eat as is, or whisk in a little yogurt. You can thicken the liquid and turn it into a stew. The world is yours!!

      1. Make a roux, add veggies, add spices, fill with water, simmer, season, eat.

        1. - Chicken stock (homemade or canned, whatever is handy)
          - Frozen corn niblets
          - Frozen peas and carrots
          - Ginger (sliced)
          - Egg

          Bring stock to a boil, then add the ginger slices and let it simmer for about 2 minutes. Remove ginger, and keep stock at a low simmer. Add frozen veggies (corn, peas, carrots) and bring stock back to a boil. Once it begins to boil, crack an egg into the soup, and give it a good swirl with a wood spoon and turn off heat. Cover for 1 minute, add salt and pepper to taste, then serve and eat.

          1. We make all kinds of soups, but there's one thing I've learned to use for a quick and healthy vegetable soup: Thai Green Curry Paste. It adds so much flavor.

            Fill a pot halfway with water or stock - if you use water you'll need to add salt and pepper. Take a good size spoon of the green curry paste and stir it into the water. Simmer for a while. Throw in whatever veggies you choose. I always have frozen lima beans and corn handy, then add fresh spinach, peppers, carrots, whatever I feel like. I love kale in soup. You can choose to add barley or pasta. I've even added frozen gyoza. I'll add sliced hot peppers or a squirt of sriracha if I want a kick. And I keep a peeled ginger root in the freezer and grate it over the pot when it's almost done. A squeeze of lime can be good too.

            The great thing about soup is that you can add whatever you like. If you don't like celery, don't add it. If brussel sprouts are your favorite, cut them up and throw them in. The sky is the limit!

            1. Minestrone? Full of veggies, extremely nutritious, no potatoes or cream, only requires garlic, salt and pepper for seasoning, maybe some thyme or rosemary if you have it.

              I think a fully-stocked pantry would be a lifesaver if you're only cooking once a week -- pantry items are long-keeping by nature. Wouldn't it take more time and effort to purchase every single item to make a meal rather than run to the store and buy a few things to round out the grains and legumes and pasta and things in your pantry?

              In any case, I like Mark Bittman's Kitchen Express for simple, quick meals. Because its focus is speed, there aren't a lot of hearty, long-cooking stews, although there are a fair number of quick-cooking soups. Lots of speedy recipes, though.

              These soup recipes are great, as is everything on Heidi's blog.


              Highly recommend bookmarking this one if you're looking for veggie-full, nutritious, balanced, simple food. Some of the soups are a bit richer, but still very nutritious -- everything in moderation! :)

              1. My go-to Veg soup is very simple and healthy.

                Start with the trinity- carrots, onion and celery, chopped and sauteed. I sometimes add a little Italian sausage or Spanish at this stage to give it a little flavor. I add some tomato paste and garlic after a few minutes (the double-concentrated stuff is a staple for me), then maybe a little dry white wine if I have it. Then some tomatoes (fresh, home-canned or canned), and some chicken broth (home-made or store bought). A healthy pinch of cayenne helps brighten things up here.

                Then I start piling on the other vegetables I might have- chopped leeks, parsnips, green beans, field peas, julienned collards, brussels sprouts, whatever you like. Simmer for awhile, salt and pepper to taste. I like to add quite a bit of fresh parsley to mine, but you can really do anything.

                Good Luck!

                1. This is a favorite wintertime stew recipe - Tabasco and salt and pepper are the only "spices" you'll need! Use a deep 10" skillet and you'll have enough room.


                  1. I agree with a minestrone soup, veggies and beans, oh my.

                    I have a Cooking Light Soups and Stews cookbook that I use a lot in the winter. You can probably find all these recipes on their website, but some of my faves are
                    Pasta and Chickpea Soup with Pesto
                    Corn chowder (made with just a little half and half or whole milk)
                    Carrot Ginger Soup
                    Chickpea Stew (over polenta)
                    French Onion Soup (can be made with veggie broth instead of beef)
                    Broccoli Rabe and white bean soup

                    I think stocking your pantry little by little will be easy, and things like stock, dried herbs, canned beans will make things easy in a pinch.

                    1. I find that if you put in enough garlic & onions, along with flavorful veg, you don't need a lot of additional spices . . . case in point, this white bean & kale soup I made recently - it has some turkey sausage for flavor and more protein without adding a lot of fat. http://www.semisweetonline.com/2010/1.... Or, for a "kitchen sink" approach, my Green Soup recipe is great - I've made it with any number of combinations of veggies I had on hand and it's always delicious - just add garlic and salt & pepper to your liking, and sprinkle it with a little cheese before serving - a great way to get your veg (and to use up stuff that's threatening to go bad): http://www.semisweetonline.com/2010/0....

                      I'd also suggest checking out sites like eatingwell.com and cookinglight.com for recipes - it's hard to go wrong with soup, so chances are you can find something to riff off of and run with it (sub out veg you don't like, sub in ones that are cheaper/more to your liking).


                      1. This West African Groundnut Stew Recipe is great, if sweet potatoes are OK for you. It's a pretty flexible recipe- I've made it with canned tomatoes, only tomato juice, only tomatoes.....without the okra or with frozen orka....and it gets a wonderful reception every time:


                        1. Thanks for all the posts. I figured ChowHound would come through. Lots of recipes to choose from and a lot of them look very good.

                          1. This soup is easy and very forgiving. You can pretty much add any vegetable and sometimes I just omit the tortellini. I like it a little pureed so at the end I use my stick blender to smooth it out.

                            Tortellini Vegetable Soup

                            1T vegetable oil
                            1/2 c sliced carrots
                            1/2 c chopped onions
                            1 clove garlic, crushed
                            2 cans vegetable broth
                            1 can Italian diced tomatoes
                            1 can tomato paste
                            1 c water
                            1 zucchini, diced
                            1 can Great Northern Beans, drained and rinsed
                            12 oz cheese tortellini
                            1-1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
                            salt and pepper to taste
                            Grated Parmesan cheese

                            In a large pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add carrots, onion, and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally until vegetables begin to soften (about 5 minutes). Stir in broth, tomatoes, tomato paste, and water. Simmer 10 minutes. Add zucchini, beans, tortellini, and seasoning. Cover and simmer 10 minutes. Garnish with Parmesan.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: valerie

                              I make something very simlilar, sometimes without the beans. I also add in celery if I have it. Frozen tortellini makes it really easy to prepare in a pinch.

                              Always a hit and it's basically a meal in a bowl.

                            2. gazpacho. cut out the bread and olive oil some recipes call for, and you have perfection in a bowl.

                              1. http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Vegetari...

                                This is a really fab vegetarian tortilla soup. It's simple, and way more delicious than you would guess from reading the ingredients. Sub at will. I reduce the cumin and the chiles.

                                1. As you can probably tell from my long list, I love veggie soups and stews in the winter.

                                  Mark Bittman's Fast Vegetable Soup - A great base recipe that uses whatever veggies you have on hand.

                                  Luccan Farro Soup (Mark Bittman) - Can also use spelt or barley.

                                  Lentil Minestrone Soup

                                  Sally Schneider's French Winter Vegetable Soup -you can omit the potatoes, just use a few more veggies instead

                                  Mideast Minestrone Soup (Shurbat Al-Khudar

                                  Low-Fat Pasta E Fagioli (Italian Pasta & Bean Soup) - This is from a great cookbook, "Saved By Soup" by Judith Barrett.

                                  Tuscan Cannellini Bean Soup (Vegetarian

                                  Mushroom Barley Soup

                                  Low-Fat Sour Cream & Mushroom Soup

                                  Patricia Wells' Winter Three-Grain Soup

                                  Tisserie Pumpkin and Tomato Soup

                                  Dan Barber's Kale & White Bean Stew

                                  Tuscan-Style Stew

                                  1. Here's one of my childhood favorites: easy, delicious, healthy and meatless- my Mom's been vegetarian for forty years...

                                    Rich and satisfying but not as heavy as it sounds; the tomatoes and carrot lighten it up a bit. I sometimes brighten it with a squeeze of lemon juice too.

                                    A bowl of this with a pat of organic butter and a nice field green salad might just be the perfect meal, especially in cold weather.

                                    Lentil and Barley Stew

                                    1/4 C butter
                                    1/3 C chopped onion
                                    1/2 C chopped celery
                                    2½ C skinned, chopped tomatoes (fresh or canned)
                                    2 C water
                                    1/2 C dried lentils
                                    1/3 C whole barley
                                    1/2 t sea salt, or preferably Herbamare
                                    1/8 t each rosemary and black pepper
                                    1/3 C shredded carrots

                                    In a large heavy pot, melt the butter and sauté the onion until it is tender.
                                    Add celery, cook 5 more minutes, and add all else except the carrot.
                                    Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover, and simmer gently for 25 minutes or until done, stirring occasionally.
                                    Add carrots and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.

                                    (Herbamare is a wonderful seasoned salt available at many health food stores. Rather than simply mixing the salt with herbs, they make a brine and then dry it so every crystal contains full flavor. I use this almost exclusively 'cause it delivers way more flavor than conventional seasoned salts.)

                                    1. Here's a version of Fasolada - Greek White Bean Soup

                                      1 lb dried navy, Great Northern, or cannelini beans, or 2 - 15 oz cans
                                      1 med. onion, chopped
                                      2 carrots, slivered (matchstick size pieces) (or diced, I just like 'em slivered myself)
                                      2 ribs celery, chopped (including leaves)
                                      1 cayenne pepper OR generous sprinkling of crushed red pepper (optional)
                                      2 T tomato paste
                                      1 - 15 oz can crushed or dized tomato OR 3 Roma-type fresh tomatoes
                                      1 T minced garlic
                                      1/2 c olive oil
                                      3 vegetable or chicken boullion cubes
                                      salt and pepper to taste

                                      If you bought dried beans, soak overnight and dump the soaking water, OR bring to a boil, simmer 10 minutes, drain, replace water, bring to boil again, turn off and let soak for one hour.

                                      Saute the onion, garlic, celery, cayenne pepper, and carrot in the olive oil until they are just beginning to soften (about half cooked). Ad the tomato paste and chopped fresh or canned tomato. Saute for another 5 minutes or so.

                                      If you used dried beans, add the sauted veggies to the soaked beans. Add enough water to cover by about a couple of inches. Add bouillon cubes (vegetable or chicken). If you have it you could throw in a bay leaf (take it out later). Bring to a boil and simmer until the beans are done.

                                      If you used canned beans, drain the canned beans, add all to a pot and cover with water as above, bring to a boil and simmer for about 20 minutes, until the veggies are done.

                                      Since you're in a dorm situation, you could just use one whole 6 oz can of tomato paste or dispense with the tomato paste and just use the canned or fresh tomatoes. 2 T of tomato paste leaves you with 5 oz of unused tomato paste so if you don't want to either throw it away or store it, modify the recipe in one of those ways.

                                      1. Try the lentil and brown rice soup from Epicurious. I use veggie stock instead of chicken and herbes de provence instead of the individual hersb in the recipe.

                                        It is DELICIOUS and very healthy. I make a big batch and freeze part of it for later.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: WtotheN

                                          Hi WtotheN,

                                          You wrote something a while back about your experience in St. Emilion, France. I'd like to quote you in my article. Would you please contact me at rmantini@tidingsmag.com? Thanks!

                                        2. There are oodles of veggie soups and stews out there. I find Robin Robertson's books tackle them well. See if you can get Planet Vegan or 1000 Vegan Recipes from your local library. I also like Saved by Soup since the ingredient lists are usually pretty short.

                                          This is a lovely recipe for roasted red pepper and squash soup from Saved by Soup:

                                          1. I love this stew. Vegetarian and it has the 4 spices I always have on hand, cumin, coriander, paprika and chili flakes. Ready in 25 minutes but tastes like it has been cooking all day.

                                            2 cups cooked lentils
                                            2 sweet potatoes diced
                                            1 medium onion diced
                                            3 garlic cloves minced
                                            ½ can of tomato paste
                                            2 cups of water
                                            1 tsp cumin
                                            1 tsp coriander
                                            ¼ to ½ tsp of chilli flakes
                                            ½ tsp turmeric
                                            ½ tsp paprika
                                            ½ cup currants or raisins
                                            1 tsp honey
                                            Juice of ½ a lemon
                                            1 tsp of lemon zest

                                            Cook onion over medium heat for 3 minutes. Add cumin, coriander, turmeric and chilli flakes. Cook the spices with the onions for a few minutes. (if using dry lentils, add now with 2 cups of water and boil for 5 minutes.) Add the garlic, potatoes, tomato paste, 2 cups of water, raisins and honey. Cook uncovered for 15 minutes or until potatoes are almost tender. When the potatoes are almost finished cooking, add the lentils, lemon zest and 1 Tbsp of lemon juice. Serve over whole wheat couscous, wheat berries or quinoa.
                                            photos will be posted on the blog tomorrow. beyondthepeel@blogspot.com

                                            1. A super-easy one is minestrone. I finely dice an onion, three carrots and three celery ribs (which I buy individually because I never use celery except in soup!) and sautee them with minced garlic in olive oil for a loooong time. If you want to save on spices, you could buy Italian seasoning mix (the generic brand here is about $3 for a jar) and add some. Then, I add in my other vegetables. My last minestrone had cabbage (half a head; I used the other half in fried rice), frozen green beans (I chopped them first), small cauliflower florets and a can of drained kidney beans. I like to sautee that a bit before adding in stock (I usually do half store-bought stock and half water) and simmering. When it's a minute or two away from done I add in some frozen peas. I like a little pasta in my minestrone, but I cook it and store it separately and add it to individual servings to keep it from getting mushy. To jazz it up you can always swirl in some pesto. If you use parmesan cheese you can save the rind in your freezer when you're done; when you make minestrone throw it in the pot with the stock (I swear heaven is using your teeth to scrape the leftover cheese off a rind that's just simmered in minestrone for an hour).

                                              Other easy ones are lentil (it's not super-veggie-heavy but this is AWESOME: http://www.eatmedelicious.com/2009/11...) or black bean (I just made a pot of black bean soup last night- again I started with onion, carrots, celery and garlic, with the addition of a minced jalapeno, then added in canned tomatoes and black beans along with a diced sweet potato and a teaspoon of chipotle puree). I cooked the crap out of it and then pureed it. I squeezed in the juice of two limes at the very end. (To make chipotle puree just stick a can of chipotles in adobo sauce in a blender, puree it, then pour it into a ziplock bag and keep it in the freezer, breaking off chunks as you need them.)

                                              I'm also a young(ish) person who does a weekly cook. I live alone so I have to ensure that I will be able to eat up what I cook. Right now I've made the black bean soup (which I've now frozen) as well as a quiche (frozen pie shell, eggs, milk, caramelized shallots, sun-dried tomatoes), I'm just cooling two acorn squashes (I think that you can put anything in an acorn squash and it will taste good, so I've blended the flesh of the roasted squash with homemade sourdough breadcrumbs, caramelized red onions and shallots, and parmesan cheese before re-roasting), and I promised to bring lunch for some colleagues on Monday so I'll be making this too http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo... except with butternut squash instead of pumpkin).

                                              1. Lots of great suggestions here. I am a vegetarian so I am enjoying getting ideas here! Do you have access to a blender? If so, this recipe is quite easy and seems to meet your specifications.

                                                3 cups frozen peas
                                                a clove or 2 of garlic
                                                2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
                                                dried red pepper flakes (optional)
                                                olive oil
                                                Parmesan cheese to top (optional)

                                                Cook minced garlic in olive oil until toasted and light brown and add pepper flakes if you are using them. Pour in stock and peas and cook until peas are tender. Season with salt and pepper. Use a blender to puree the soup. Top with cheese.

                                                1. I make one that I love that I call "orange soup" (don't worry, no actual oranges involved, just lots of orange veggies). I take butternut squash and acorn squash and roast them until tender/cutable (I hate chopping and peeling squash, so roasting eliminates the problem). Scoop out the flesh and add it to a pot of veggie broth. Then add a ton of chopped carrots and sweet potato. Simmer until all veggies are tender, then puree with a hand blender. For flavoring, I find it needs quite a bit of salt to bring out the flavor, and if I have it on hand, I'll add a parmesan rind. I've also finished it with a bit of fat free half-and-half, but I like goodhealthgourmet's swap for fat-free evaporated milk as the half-and-half has lots of additives/stuff in it.

                                                  Good luck, thanks for starting this thread, lots of good ideas!

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: mjhals

                                                    I love this way of preparing squash too. If you split one and scoop out the seeds, you can put a couple of cloves of garlic under each half face down on the roasting pan and then also have great roasted garlic for your soup. Start with sauteed onions, and then some curry powder, followed by the squash and garlic, adding some chopped apples and liquid (water has always worked fine for me. I blend it with a hand blender. (Salt of course too, starting from the onions and checking on the way.)