This chunky homemade vegetable soup recipe is the heartiest and most savory veggie soup you will ever make! Filled with tons of fresh vegetables and lots of flavor. Serve it up with some croutons or crusty bread and you have a perfect warm soup for cold nights. It is the best ever vegetable soup!
This post was updated in 2022 to include better tips and instructions.
It’s soup season! And you know I love a good soup from scratch. This easy homemade vegetable soup is packed with flavor and fresh colorful veggies. This soup is made without meat, but it's so flavorful you won't even miss it, I promise!
Why you'll love this recipe
This veggie soup is quickly becoming one of my favorite recipes, and for very good reason!
- It's very filling and hearty for a vegetable-only soup.
- It contains a ton of fresh vegetables.
- This soup is flavor packed and savory - you won't miss the meat!
- It freezes really well, so you can make a big batch save some for later.
This chunky soup calls for a ton of veggies, but it is a really versatile recipe. You can swap ingredients out for what you have on hand or for your personal tastes. This is also a great way to use up extra vegetables going bad in the fridge!
PRO TIP: Don't throw out your vegetable scraps, like carrot peelings, sweet pepper cores, and onion skins. You can use them to make homemade vegetable broth! Save them in a freezer bag until you are ready to use them.
- Red bell pepper - I love the flavor of red bell peppers, but you can substitute for any color sweet pepper here.
- Yukon gold potatoes - You can substitute for a waxy type of potato like red potatoes. I wouldn’t use Russet potatoes in this kind of soup where you want the potatoes to stay in chunks. Russet potatoes are better for blended soups.
- White wine - Use a dry variety like sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio. You can swap for broth to deglaze the pot if you don’t want to use alcohol.
- Vegetable stock - You can substitute for chicken or beef stock if you don’t need it to be vegetarian.
- Umami powder - This is optional if you can’t find it, but it adds a great flavor! I found mine at Trader Joe’s.
- White balsamic vinegar - I love this stuff. It’s slightly sweet and milder than regular balsamic vinegar. You can substitute for equal amounts of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar.
See the recipe card below for full list of ingredients and measurements.
PRO TIP: Check your local farmer’s market to see what’s in season and swap out ingredients for seasonal fresh veggies.
Fresh vs. Frozen Vegetables
I always opt for fresh vegetables when possible. They will almost always yield a better final texture. The exceptions are corn and peas. If you can’t find fresh peas or corn, using the frozen kind is fine. Frozen peas and corn usually hold up their texture better than other vegetables.
How to add flavor to bland soup
The problem with vegetable soup is that it's often lacking flavor. There are no chicken bones or seared beef hunks to coax any deep delicious umami flavor out of. But I’m here to prove that you can make a super flavor packed vegetable soup, without any meat!
Here are some tips to develop maximum flavor in your soups:
1. CARAMELIZE THE VEGGIES - Caramelizing the vegetables in this soup is one of the most important first steps to add an extra layer of flavor. Vegetables often contain sugar, especially starchy ones. Cooking these vegetables over a higher heat causes those sugars to caramelize adding a depth of flavor to this soup. You can also caramelize the tomato paste by allowing it to cook for a few minutes before adding any liquid.
2. USE A DEGLAZING LIQUID - If you are sautéing or caramelizing some of the ingredients first, chances are you will need some kind of liquid to deglaze the pan. This can be an extra chance to add in some flavor. Rather than using water to deglaze, opt for something more flavorful like broth, stock, vinegar, or my favorite - wine.
3. ADD A PARMESAN RIND - Adding in a parmesan rind is an easy way to pack extra flavor into any bland soup. Parmesan cheese has a salty, rich, and complex flavor. It is perfect for adding some umami into a dish with no meat, and really enhances the flavor of the soup.
4. LOTS OF SEASONINGS AND SPICES - Don’t overlook this simple step. Think ground spices like paprika and chili powder, or dried herbs like oregano, thyme, or Italian seasoning. You can also add in a bay leaf while the sauce simmers. Add a little spice by adding a pinch of cayenne or red pepper flakes. And don’t forget the salt! Make sure the final soup is well salted to bring all the flavors together.
5. USE UMAMI POWDER - This is my secret weapon for adding a flavor bomb to this soup. It’s usually made from savory ingredients, like mushrooms, ground into a powder. I use the kind from Trader Joe’s but you can also find it in other stores or online.
6. FINISH WITH AN ACID - If you’ve finished your soup and it still needs a little something, finish it off with a teaspoon or two an acid like lemon juice, lime juice, soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, or balsamic vinegar. The acidic flavor balances out sweetness and fatty flavors nicely.
How to make this soup
This hearty vegetable soup recipe can be broken down into 3 easy steps:
- Caramelize the vegetables
- Deglaze the pot
- Simmer and finish.
First, heat a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat and sauté the aromatics: onions, celery, carrots, and red peppers.
Allow the vegetables to sweat, releasing excess moisture. Then they will begin to caramelize and slightly brown their edges. This helps add an extra layer of flavor to the soup.
Add garlic and tomato paste and cook for 1-2 minutes while stirring.
PRO TIP: It is important to allow tomato paste to caramelize and darken when adding it to a dish. Let it cook for a few minutes before adding the liquids.
Deglaze with white wine, scraping up any browned bits that have formed on the pan. Cook for a few minutes while the alcohol burns off.
Next, add in vegetable broth, tomatoes with juices, potatoes, kale, parmesan rind, dried oregano, umami powder, paprika, red pepper flakes, and ground thyme to the pot.
Bring the liquid up to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Skim any foam that forms on the top.
Next add in green beans, frozen corn, frozen peas, and fresh parsley and cook for another 5 minutes.
The parmesan rind should have started to dissolve into the soup. If there are any parts remaining you can remove it from the soup, or chop it into small pieces to help it dissolve further.
Serve this vegetable soup warm with some crusty bread or croutons to absorb some of that delicious broth!
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Storage & Reheating
How to store leftovers: Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
How to freeze: This vegetable soup freezes really well. Add 1-2 portions to a quart size freezer bag, and lay flat in the freezer to freeze. Once frozen, you can stand up the bags file cabinet style for easier storage. Don’t forget to label and date!
How to reheat: This soup reheats just fine in the microwave. You can also reheat over medium heat in a saucepan. To reheat from frozen, allow soup to defrost overnight in the refrigerator, or let the container sit in cool water for about 30 minutes.
Variations & Substitutions
The great thing about this recipe is that is it very customizable! You can swap out the veggies for your personal tastes or what you have on hand. This is a great recipe to help you get rid of some veggies that need to be used up in your fridge. Here are some suggestions.
- Zucchini - Add in chopped zucchini when you add the green beans.
- Snow peas - Add these in when you would add the green beans.
- Sweet potatoes - You can use sweet potato instead of the Yukon gold potato.
- Fresh tomatoes - You can substitute the canned tomatoes for about 1 pound of fresh ones. Dice and seed them.
- Leafy greens - Add in a handful of fresh spinach when you add in the frozen corn and peas.
- Chickpeas - Add cooked beans in towards the end of simmering.
- Beans - Any beans would go well in this soup for some extra protein. Try white beans, red beans, or lentils.
- Make it spicy - Add in diced jalapeño or poblano peppers with the onions in the beginning of the recipe for some extra kick.
- Pasta - If you want to make this hearty soup even more filling, you can also serve it with pasta. Try orzo or egg noodles.
Frequently Asked Questions
You can make this soup in a slow cooker. Caramelize your veggies and tomato paste in a skillet first and deglaze the pan as per the directions. Then add the contents of the deglazed pan along with the rest of the ingredients to the slow cooker. Cook on low for about 6 hours or high for 2-3 hours. I must add that a slow cooker is not my favorite way to make this already easy soup, and some of the vegetables may get mushy.
You can thicken this soup by adding flour. Add it in the beginning by sprinkling 1-2 teaspoons over the caramelized veggies and cooking for a few minutes while stirring. If you you need to add it at the end, remove about 1 cup of broth, and whisk the flour in, removing all the lumps. Pour the flour slurry back into the pot and allow to simmer for a few minutes.
I have a whole section on this above, but some ideas are a parmesan rind, balsamic vinegar, umami powder, or extra seasonings.
Yes! This soup is almost better the next day. I would make this soup a day or two in advance at the most, then reheat when ready to serve.
The Best Vegetable Soup
- Dutch oven or large pot, at least 6 quarts
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup carrots peeled and sliced, about 2 medium carrots
- ½ cup celery diced, about 1-2 stalks
- ½ cup red bell pepper diced, about ½ a pepper
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon tomato paste
- ½ cup dry white wine Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc
- 2 quarts vegetable stock or broth 64 ounces or 8 cups
- 14 ounces fire roasted tomatoes 1 regular sized can
- 1 medium Yukon gold potato diced into ½ inch cubes
- 2 cups kale chopped and stems removed
- 1-2 ounce parmesan cheese rind
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon umami powder *See note
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ⅛ teaspoon ground thyme
- 6 ounces fresh green beans cut into ¾ inch pieces
- ½ cup fresh or frozen corn
- ½ cup fresh or frozen peas
- 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
- 1 teaspoon white balsamic vinegar
- CARAMELIZE: Heat a large pot or Dutch oven on medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sauté carrots, celery, onions, and red peppers for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. You want to sweat the vegetables first, then start to caramelize them, slightly browning their edges. Add garlic and tomato paste and cook for 1-2 minutes while stirring.
- DEGLAZE: Deglaze with white wine, scraping up any browned bits that have formed on the pan. Cook for a few minutes while the alcohol burns off.
- SIMMER: Add broth, tomatoes with juices, potatoes, kale, parmesan rind, dried oregano, umami powder, paprika, red pepper flakes, and ground thyme to the pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook for 10 minutes. Skim any foam that forms on the top. Next add in green beans, frozen corn, frozen peas, and fresh parsley and cook for another 5 minutes.
- FINISH: Remove from heat and stir in white balsamic vinegar. Season with salt and pepper as needed.
- The parmesan rind should have started to dissolve into the soup. If there are any parts remaining you can remove it from the soup, or chop it into small pieces to help it dissolve further.
- Umami powder is usually made from ground mushrooms. It's optional, but adds a great flavor to this soup! I found it at Trader Joe’s in the seasoning and spices section.
- You can substitute vegetable stock for beef broth/stock or chicken broth/stock.
- You can substitute fire roasted tomatoes for 1 pound diced roma tomatoes.
- How to store leftovers: Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- How to freeze: This vegetable soup freezes really well. Add 1-2 portions to a quart size freezer bag, and lay flat in the freezer to freeze. Once frozen, you can stand up the bags file cabinet style for easier storage. Don’t forget to label and date!
- How to reheat: This soup reheats just fine in the microwave. You can also reheat over medium heat in a saucepan. To reheat from frozen, allow soup to defrost overnight in the refrigerator, or let the container sit in cool water for about 30 minutes.
Hey good lookin', what ya got cookin'? I'm Lauren and I love to teach you how to make the good stuff, from scratch! I use fresh quality ingredients to create impressive but approachable restaurant worthy recipes.