Commentary  The only soup recipe you’ll ever need

The basic principles behind a winter comfort food

Foodies are constantly making guidelines for easier ways to eat healthier and be more environmentally conscious in the kitchen. Here’s one we came up with: build your meal around your vegetables, rather than adding veggies to your meal.  
A basic creamy vegetable soup is easy to make if you follow these fundamental principles. This is made out of at least three vegetables – not much else – and encourages consumption of some less popular greens. To makes things even better, it can be altered to fit your taste and is generally delicious. 
The best way to choose ingredients for this soup is to walk through the vegetable section of your favourite grocery store and pick out three veggies, one from each category: 

1) A base. We recommend cauliflower for its texture and neutral colour/taste combination. Potatoes also fit the bill, but have less to offer nutrition-wise.  
2) A substantial vegetable, this time with colour. This could be broccoli, zucchini, carrots, or whatever.  
3) A leafy vegetable with a stronger taste. Spinach and Swiss chard are our favourites.  
Make sure you also have onions, garlic, and spices. For spices we recommend one of two combinations – classic (oregano, thyme, and sage) or spicy (cayenne pepper, paprika, and curry powder). 
Our soup this week is cauliflower, broccoli, Swiss chard. A few other combos we recommend are potatoes, spinach, and red pepper or cauliflower, Swiss chard, and mushrooms.   
The Recipe 
–2 tbs. Olive Oil 
–2 medium onions, chopped 
–2 cloves garlic, minced 
1 to 1 1/2 pound Vegetable 1 (one head of cauliflower, 3-5 potatoes) chopped 
–½ pound Vegetable 2 (one small head of broccoli, one large zucchini) 
–A bunch or 2 large handfuls of Vegetable 3 (two bunches of leafy greens) 
–2 cups water or 1 cup water/1 cup stock of any kind 
–Milk to taste 
–Spices, salt, and pepper  
In a large pot with a tight-fitting lid, heat olive oil over medium heat and sauté onions and garlic. Add Vegetable 1 and the spices; cook 5 minutes. Add Vegetable 2; cook another 5 minutes. Finally, add Vegetable 3 and 2 cups of water or stock. Close the lid on the pot and let simmer for about half an hour, or until all the vegetables are tender. 
At this point, you can add some cooked lentils or beans, put it in bowls, and serve a hearty, vegan soup. Or you can mash it up with a fork or boat motor until it is as smooth as you can get it, add milk until it is a desired consistency, and serve a silky, decadent vegetable soup.  
This soup is best when made using our second favourite student budget-friendly kitchen gadget, the boat motor hand blender (our first favourite is the mixing bowl).  It can also be made chunky with no blending or in a regular blender, but the classy factor and convenience of this tool is unsurpassed.  
Add salt and pepper to taste, and serve with sour cream. You can cook this with meat; just make sure the meat is mostly cooked before you put it in with Vegetable 3. This soup offers you the opportunity to play with your food.