This soup turned out so good that I may try to replicate it. But the reality is that it came together with whatever odds and ends were on hand in the pantry, fridge and freezer. Developing the knack for cooking tasty soups from "nothing" is a skill to be thankful for.
Please use this guide simple as that, a guide. Substitute ingredients and proportions according to what you have on hand and your own tastes. Happy soup making!
If you're using bouillon cubes, prepare the bouillon according to the package directions and set aside. Here's a trick for you: sometimes I make it a little more concentrated than the directions call for, for extra flavour. That's another important reason to use a reduced- or no-sodium bouillon. For this recipe, I used two cubes of the GoBio brand vegetable bouillon, which made 6 cups of stock.
What aromatics do you have on hand in the kitchen? I'm talking about things like onions, garlic and chilies. And also other traditional flavour bases like bell peppers, celery and carrots.
Some herbs and spices benefit from "blooming" in oil. Essentially this means cooking the rawness out of them, which deepens their flavour. (See the note about tomato paste.)
Since I was using ground turmeric, which benefits from blooming, I added a couple of teaspoons at this point. I also tossed in 1.5 teaspoons or so each of dried chopped sage, marjoram and basil. I just stirred it all into the veg and let it cook for a few minutes. I also added a bit of salt and lots of freshly ground pepper, because that's how I roll.
This is a good time to clear the freezer of partial bags of frozen vegetables. If any are showing signs of frostiness, rinse them in a colander first. I threw about 3 cups of frozen corn into the pot, along with the rest of a bag of frozen leafy greens (maybe a cup or two ... I don't really know). I let those cook down with the base mix while I foraged for other ingredients. I also added about 3 or 4 cups of frozen cubed butternut squash and a whole 500 g bag of frozen cauliflower florets. (I adore cauliflower in soup.)
After pouring in all the prepared stock, I added in another cup or so of water, so the liquid came just to the top of the vegetables. My aim was to create a thick and hearty soup. For a thinner soup, use more liquid. If I'd wanted more of a stew-like soup, I would have only used the stock. While you can adjust the consistency later in the process, it's more challenging to thicken a thin soup than to thin one that's too thick.
I put the lid on the pot and brought the soup to a boil, immediately turning the temperature to low. Then I let it simmer for 20 minutes or so.
I was using canned beans, so I added them after the soup had boiled (I didn't want them to go mushy). I used one 540 mL can of cannellini beans (white kidney beans) and one 398 mL can of butter beans, rinsing them well first.
If I'd been using dried lentils, I would have picked them over and rinsed them, and added them right after the stock, before boiling the soup. A longer cooking time may have been needed to ensure they became tender enough. It's all a matter of playing it by ear and checking progress frequently. (See the note about dried beans, etc.)
After the 20 minutes of simmering, test that the vegetables are tender (but they don't need to be mushy!) and check for seasonings, adding more salt and pepper if needed.
I then ladled about a quarter of the soup into a large bowl and puréed it with an immersion blender. I could have used a regular blender, but that would create more cleanup work. Returning the purée to the pot and stirring it in gave the broth more body.
If the soup's flavour seemed somewhat dull or flat, I would have added a tablespoon or two of apple cider vinegar or white wine, a little at a time, stirring and tasting until it seemed right. It's important not to do it. This really brightens the flavour, but the trick is not to be able to tell that the vinegar or wine is there.
Finally, if I'd had fresh parsley on hand, I would have chopped some and added it at this point. Originally, it was my intention to add a cup or two of frozen peas for a pop of bright colour and texture, about 5 minutes or so before serving. But ... I forgot! Oh well, maybe next time.