This is my interpretation of the canned Alphabet Vegetable Soup we all grew up with! In this version, however, I’m using whole, real, and fresh ingredients, and increasing the vegetable to pasta ratio. Pictured is a vegetarian version, but there’s a beef version in the recipe card below!
This soup reminds me of going home for lunch during my younger school years. My mom used to open a can of Campbell’s soup, warm it on the stove, and serve it with a bologna sandwich. And, my older sister, my younger brother, and I would happily eat it up before heading back to school for the afternoon session. As good as it was, sorry Campbell’s, my Alphabet Vegetable Soup is better!
As I write up this recipe, I’m thinking about how many times I opened a can of Campbell’s Vegetable Soup when I was in college. It was quick and easy and I loved it. I could take it in a thermos and eat it whenever I got hungry. I learned my lesson very early that waiting in line for the microwave at the campus cafeteria was not something I enjoyed doing! The thermos saved my sanity!
We still buy canned soup once in a while. John.e will make sure he always has a can of mushroom soup in the pantry. I don’t make cream of mushroom soup, so the canned stuff is as good as it’s going to get! Also, we always have some canned tomato soup too. Both him and McKenna love tomato soup with grilled cheese. I don’t mind the soup, but I do not like the taste of grilled cheese at all!
I much prefer my homemade tomato soup, because it’s heartier. It’s chunky and full of San Marzano Tomatoes. Last year, I even made up a large batch of tomato soup and canned it. I thought I could convince them that homemade was better. They ate all of the homemade Canned Tomato Soup and went right back to Campbells! I guess that just means I have to do more canning! Anyway, I digress!
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INGREDIENTS NEEDED TO PREPARE THIS RECIPE
The following is a list of the ingredients needed to prepare this recipe. For exact amounts and measurements, refer to the printable recipe card located near the bottom of this post.
- Olive Oil – I always use extra virgin light olive oil so that the flavour is muted. Olive oil has a high heat tolerance, so it’s perfect for sautéing.
- Onion – I use yellow, white, and sweet onions interchangeably. Either of them will do just fine.
- Carrots – I save my thinner carrots for crudités, because the tend to be sweeter. If you buy carrots by the bag, use the larger carrots for soups and stews. Plus, with larger carrots you can get a more even dice.
- Celery – I love celery in soup, but it can overpower the flavour, so use it sparingly.
- Garlic – Fresh garlic will result in the best flavour every single time.
- Seasonings – Salt, ground black pepper, and Italian seasoning.
- Canned Diced Tomatoes – You will need roughly two cups, including the juice. Store-bought is fine, but I used my homemade canned tomatoes.
- Tomato Sauce – Sometimes referred to as tomato passata.
- Vegetable Stock – If you are using store-bought, use low sodium. Some of them can be overly salty!
- Alphabet Pasta – Easily found in-store or online here. You can use any smaller pasta like orzo or even macaroni.
- Green Peas – Use frozen green peas in this soup.
- Corn – Like the green peas, use frozen corn. They are both added at the end to just heat through and not overcook them.
- Parsley – For freshness, colour, and garnish.
GROUND BEEF OPTION
I told you at the beginning of this post that you can make this soup in non-vegetarian format. You can do this by adding ground beef to the recipe. For that matter, if you’re going to add beef, you can also use beef or chicken broth instead of vegetable broth.
You will note in the recipe card that the first steps to preparing this Alphabet Vegetable Soup is to cook the onions, carrots, and celery together in the oil. Well, in the case of adding ground beef, you should start with the beef first. Cook the beef until no more pink is visible. Before adding in the onions, carrots, and celery, drain off the grease from the ground beef. Otherwise, you run the risk of having a very greasy soup!
You can combat this by using an extra lean ground beef. In most cases, the extra lean ground beef has much less leftover grease once it’s fully cooked. Of course, the issue with that is that extra lean ground beef can be quite expensive! I swear, Dear Reader, if the price of groceries continues to rise, we will be living on bread and water!
THE HOLY TRINITY OF A GOOD SOUP
Have you every heard of a mirepoix? Sometimes, it’s referred to as the Holy Trinity of cooking. It is a flavour base made from diced vegetables cooked in some type of fat, usually, butter or oil. The veggies are sometimes cooked for a long period of time on a very low heat. The goal is not not brown the veggies. Other times, they are cooked on a higher heat to bring out the natural sweetness. This is usually the case in soups.
A mirepoix is most often found combined with tomatoes or tomato paste. This creates a darker, brown mixture called a pincage. It is a long-standing cooking technique in French cuisine. Mirepoix is widely used to flavour a variety of Western dishes, such as stocks, soups, stews and sauces.
In Italian cuisine, the onions, carrots and celery are chopped to form a battuto. It is slowly cooked in butter or olive oil, becoming soffritto. It is used as the base for most pasta sauces, such as ragu, but occasionally it can be used as the base of other dishes, such as sautéed vegetables. Most of the time, the Italian version will also include garlic, shallots, or even leeks.
WANT TO ADD “BEEF” BUT KEEP IT VEGETARIAN?
Remember at the top of this post I said that you could make this dish with ground beef as well? Well, if you like that beefy style of soup, but want to keep the soup vegetarian friendly, you can use textured vegetable protein based meat. Whenever I prepare meat-based dishes, I always feel guilty that John.e can’t enjoy them. So, oftentimes, instead of ground beef, I used vegetarian been crumbles.
If you use store-bought vegetarian crumbles like Gardein, Morning Star, or Beyond Meat, you can treat them all just like the ground beef. You will not need to fry them until the pink is gone, but heat them though just the same. Read the instructions on the package. Other than that, you can follow the recipe exactly as written.
If, however, you want to use textured vegetable protein in a dry version, you can do that as well. I have been using the dry format much more lately. It’s not only cheaper, but it has less additives. We purchase it from Good Rebel in Toronto. The only thing differently you need to do is to add 1 cup of the product to the skillet with the olive oil and 1 cup of water. Once the water evaporates, continue on with the recipe as written. Easy right!?
HOW TO MAKE ALPHABET VEGTABLE SOUP
When ready to cook, add the onion, carrots, celery, and olive oil to the pot. Over medium-high heat, sauté the vegetables for 6-8 minutes. Add the garlic, salt, ground black pepper, and Italian seasoning. Sauté for another 2 minutes. Be sure to stir often. (If adding ground beef, cook the beef first until no longer pink. Drain the grease, and add the onions, carrots, and celery. Continue on with the recipe as written from here.)
Next, add the canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, and vegetable stock. Continue to cook over medium-high heat until the broth comes to a boil. Add in the alphabet pasta, stir well and reduce the heat to medium. Simmer the soup, stirring often to prevent the pasta from setting at the bottom of the pot and sticking. Once is pasta is cooked, add in the frozen corn and green peas.
Stir the soup well and cook for just 3-4 minutes longer. If the soup looks like it doesn’t have enough liquid, add one cup of water, stir well and continue to cook. Turn off the heat. Taste and add more salt if needed. Depending on the stock you used, you may need to adjust the seasoning. Finally, stir through the fresh parsley and serve immediately.
LEFTOVERS AND/OR FREEZING
This recipe does make about six servings, which might be too much or too little, depending on the size of your family. The recipe can easily be halved or even doubled. Just be sure to use a really big soup pot if you’re doubling this recipe! Once everyone has had their fill, you might have some leftovers. If so, you can transfer the cooled soup to a food-safe container and store it in the fridge. I will keep for 3-4 days. Otherwise, freeze it and it will last for 3 months.
Here’s the thing about pasta – even once it’s fully cooked through, it will continue to absorb liquid. That is why it is perfect for a soup, which is supposed to be thick anyway. If you do refrigerate or freeze the leftovers, you may need to add a bit of water to the soup when re-heating. Start with just a quarter of a cup of water at a time to avoid the soup becoming too watery. Of course, if you add more water, you will need to re-season as well.
Do You Like This Recipe?
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Alphabet Vegetable Soup
- 1 tablepoon olive oil
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 2 cups canned diced tomatoes, with juice
- 1 cup tomato sauce
- 6 cups vegetable broth, low sodium
- 1 cup alphabet pasta
- 1 cup frozen corn
- 1 cup frozen green peas
- 1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley, plus more for garnish
- (If adding ground beef, cook the beef first until no longer pink. Drain the grease, and add the onions, carrots, and celery. Continue on with the recipe as written from here.)
- When ready to cook, add the onion, carrots, celery, and olive oil to the pot. Over medium-high heat, sauté the vegetables for 6-8 minutes.
- Add the garlic, salt, ground black pepper, and Italian seasoning. Sauté for another 2 minutes. Be sure to stir often.
- Next, add the canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, and vegetable stock. Continue to cook over medium-high heat until the broth comes to a boil.
- Add in the alphabet pasta, stir well and reduce the heat to medium. Simmer the soup, stirring often to prevent the pasta from setting at the bottom of the pot and sticking.
- Once is pasta is cooked, add in the frozen corn and green peas.
- Stir the soup well and cook for just 3-4 minutes longer. If the soup looks like it doesn’t have enough liquid, add one cup of water, stir well and continue to cook.
- Turn off the heat. Taste and add more salt if needed. Depending on the stock you used, or if you added water, you may need to adjust the seasoning.
- Finally, stir through the fresh parsley and serve immediately.
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