Vegetable Soup
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This qualifies as a vegan recipe too, since there are no animal products used, even in the curry paste.  For dieters this is a “no points” recipe that is very satisfying.  On a winter’s day there is no comfort food that comes close to this recipe.  Most of the work is in the preparation of the vegetables, then all you have to do is simmer everything in the right order so that no vegetable is over or undercooked. For many years I never got good results for any of my homemade soups, either vegetarian or non- vegetarian.  I am too impatient to make true soup stock in the classic French way.  The bouillon cubes I have tried tasted artificial, salty and weak.  Then I discovered Better Than Bouillon.  This product is a lifesaver and it is found in most grocery chains in the USA.  Combine this soup starter with a small spoonful of Thai curry paste and you have a real winning combination that comes out just right and delicious every time. Ingredients: 1 gallon water with 4 tablespoons Better Than Bouillon, vegetable flavor, or your 1 gallon equivalent broth or stock No extra salt needed 6 stalks celery, cleaned and trimmed and chopped into ¼ inch pieces 2 sweet or other potatoes – peeled and cut into ½ inch to ¾ inch cubes 5 carrots, peeled and chopped into ¼ inch thick rounds 1 or 2 medium to large yellow onions, peeled and diced 19 ounces (1 can) chickpeas, rinsed and drained 15 ounces (1 can) dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained 1 medium can tomatoes, drained and chopped 1 teaspoon Thai curry paste, or more to your taste.  I use Maesri brand, usually Panang flavor.  Omit this if you like. Optional: Some string beans or peas, added at the very last moment and hardly cooked at all since they will turn to mush very quickly, especially the peas. Start by setting the gallon of water in a large pot on a medium setting to bring the water to a simmer along with the 4 tablespoons of Better Than Bouillon vegetable soup flavoring.  Also add the curry paste at this time.  Do not add salt as there is plenty in the flavoring.  Add the celery, onion and potato and let simmer for 20-30 minutes or so.  Then cooked them through to your taste.  I like to leave my potatoes a little firm since I don’t like to turn them into mush.  As soon as the potatoes are nearly cooked, add the carrots and simmer a little longer so that the carrots are done to your taste.  Again, I do not like mushy carrots.  As soon as the potatoes and carrots are cooked, add the rest of the ingredients and just heat them through and serve.  If you do not like your chickpeas and kidney beans so firm you can cook them a little longer. If you add the optional peas and string beans last be careful since they cook through and soften very fast. You can let the soup cool and freeze it in small portions and it will defrost wonderfully for weeks to come.