Vegetable Soup | Top Tips to Give it Depth of Flavor

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Vegetable Soup is a brothy and nourishing soup that’s full of fresh vegetables and white beans. Try my top tips for adding lots of flavor!

bowl of vegetable soup topped with parmesan cheese

I don’t mean to be dramatic but if I see one more snowflake I’ll be on the first overpriced flight to Key West. If the forecast is correct, I should be touching down in south Florida in roughly 36 hours.

Save me a margarita! 😉

That is to say, like many parts of the country we’re currently buried under several feet of snow. I’m coping by simmering lots of soups and stews, and my latest creation is a brothy, nourishing Vegetable Soup recipe that’s not only chock full of fresh veggies, but creamy white beans too.

A big, satisfying bowl will warm you up like sunshine on a cold, blustery day (I mean not as much as the Gulf of Mexico, but I’ll take what I can get!)

soup pot of vegetable soup with lemons

Easy Vegetable Soup

My homemade vegetable soup recipe is the definition of “feel good food”. With over 7 types of vegetables plus hearty white beans, it’s the perfect thing to make for a cozy, healthy dinner, or reheat all week long for easy lunches.

The recipe feeds an army though it reheats and freezes really well. That said, if you’re cooking for a smaller crew, feel free to cut the soup recipe in half.

Ingredients Needed

Get out your cutting board and knife because it’s true, there’s a bit of chopping involved to make this healthy vegetable soup. Take some time to slow down, turn on some tunes, then get to work!

  • Vegetables: carrots, celery, onion or shallot, garlic, potatoes, roasted red peppers, sweet corn, and kale cover the vegetable portion of the program. If you’re hesitant to use kale, don’t be! It adds an awesome, hearty texture to each bite. You can use chopped baby spinach instead, though kale holds up better to reheating.
  • Dried herbs and seasonings: homemade seasoned salt, black pepper, Italian seasoning, and dried bay leaves lend flavor to the soup.
  • Stock: I much prefer chicken stock over vegetable stock in terms of flavor, though if you want to keep this soup vegetarian, feel free to use vegetable broth or stock instead.
  • White beans: Great Northern beans are super creamy and hearty. Feel free to swap in Cannellini beans, which are a touch bigger, or chickpeas which would be fabulous too!
  • Extra virgin olive oil: for sauting the vegetables.
  • Flavorings: this soup benefits from the addition of both a parmesan cheese rind and squeeze of fresh lemon juice at the end to make it more flavorful. More on that in a minute.

How to Store and Reheat

Like I said, this recipe makes a HUGE batch of gluten-free soup but it reheats really well and leftovers can be frozen. Cool the soup down to room temperature then scoop it into an airtight storage container and place it in the fridge.

  • To reheat: warm individual servings in a bowl in the microwave, or place the cold soup in a soup pot over medium heat then warm through.
  • To freeze: cool the soup completely then scoop into gallon-size freezer Ziplock bags, seal, and freeze flat, OR scoop into Souper Cubes and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator before reheating.

vegetable soup recipe in a bowl

How to Add Lots of Flavor to Vegetable Soup

If you Google the term “vegetable soup”, the first few questions that pop up are:

“What makes vegetable soup taste better?”

“What gives vegetable soup that depth of flavor?”

“Why does my vegetable soup have no flavor?” 

Clearly veggie soup has a reputation for lacking in the flavor department, and so I point you (us) to take a lesson from Samin Nosrat, author of Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat. In her book she says four basic factors determine how good your food will taste:

  1. Salt: enhances flavor.
  2. Fat: amplifies flavor.
  3. Acid: brightens and balances.
  4. Heat: determines the texture of the food.

When I think of vegetable soup, I think of a thin, flat-tasting soup with no fat — aka, no flavor! Here’s how we fix that in this Vegetable Soup recipe:

  • Adding a parmesan cheese rind to the simmering soup infuses it with salty, umami flavor. This is SUCH an easy way to add tons of flavor to soup. Look for parmesan cheese rinds at the cheese counter in your grocery store. If you want to keep the soup vegan, leave this out.
  • Fresh lemon juice squeezed into the soup at the very end wakens up the broth. The soup won’t taste lemony, just brightened and lively.
  • Fresh herbs and fat from a dollop of prepared pesto stirred into each bowl before serving is a real treat. I like my Vegan Pesto recipe, or Gotham Greens vegan pesto.
  • If you’re not vegetarian or vegan, I recommend using chicken stock vs vegetable stock for this recipe. It seems like an odd choice, but veggie stock skews too sweet and thin in my opinion. I do opt for chicken stock over chicken broth because it has even more flavor.

What to Serve with Vegetable Soup

I can never resist an opportunity to gently nudge you with my Gluten Free Focaccia recipe, which just so happens to be a DREAM pairing with a hot bowl of vegetable soup.

In addition, we love adding the aforementioned prepared pesto to each bowl (you only need 1/2 — 1 teaspoon), plus a dusting of freshly grated parmesan cheese.

So, SO good — let’s dive into a bowl of this deliciousness!

bowl of vegetable soup with pesto and parmesan cheese

How to Make Vegetable Soup

Step 1: Saute the vegetables.

Start by heating extra virgin olive oil in a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add thinly sliced carrots, finely chopped celery, and a chopped shallot or onion. Season with homemade seasoned salt and pepper then saute until the vegetables are tender, 10-12 minutes.

Add minced garlic then saute until very fragrant, 1-2 minutes.

soup pot with sauteing carrots and celery

Step 2: Add more veggies, seasonings, and stock.

To the pot add frozen sweet corn, diced gold potatoes, chopped roasted red peppers from a jar, Great Northern beans, dried bay leaves, Italian seasoning, and a parmesan cheese rind.

Add lots of stock — again, chicken or vegetable — then turn the heat to high to bring the soup to a simmer.

ingredients for vegetable soup recipe in a soup pot

Step 3: Simmer the soup.

Turn the heat back down to medium then simmer the soup for 15-20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally. Add thinly sliced lacinato kale then simmer until the kale is tender, 5 minutes.

Lacinato kale also goes by the name “dinosaur kale” — look for it next to classic curly kale at the grocery store. If you can’t find lacinato, go ahead and use a small bunch of curly kale chopped into small pieces.

kale simmering inside a pot of vegetable soup

Step 4: Add a squeeze of lemon juice.

The last step is to add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to the pot. Again, you don’t need a ton and the soup shouldn’t taste lemony — just brightened and more flavorful. I literally add 1/2 – 1 teaspoon for the entire giant pot. You an always add more!

lemon juice being squeezed inside vegetable soup

Scoop the soup into bowls then top with a generous sprinkle of parmesan cheese and/or a small dollop of fresh pesto. SO beautiful and just as much fun to eat as it is to look at.

Enjoy every last healthy and satisfying drop!

close up of a pot of vegetable soup

More Healthy Soup Recipes


Vegetable Soup is a brothy and nourishing soup that’s full of fresh vegetables and white beans. Try my top tips for adding lots of flavor!


  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup shredded carrots or thinly sliced carrots (~2 medium carrots)
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped small
  • 1 onion or large shallot, chopped
  • homemade seasoned salt and pepper (see notes)
  • 4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
  • 8 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock
  • 2 cans great northern beans, drained then rinsed
  • 2 medium-sized Gold potatoes (~8oz), chopped into 1/2″ cubes
  • 7-8oz jar roasted red peppers, drained then chopped
  • 1 cup frozen sweet corn
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 parmesan cheese rind, optional
  • 1 small bunch lacinato kale, ribs remove then sliced into thin ribbons
  • 1/4 lemon
  • For serving:
    • freshly grated parmesan cheese
    • prepared pesto


  1. Heat the ​​extra virgin olive oil in a very large soup pot or Dutch Oven over medium heat then add the carrots, celery, and onion or shallot. Season with seasoned salt and pepper to taste then saute until the vegetables are tender, 10-12 minutes. If the vegetables are taking too long to soften, add a glug of stock or a few Tablespoons water to the pot then place the lid on top and steam for a few minutes. Add the garlic then saute until fragrant, 1-2 minutes.
  2. Add the chicken or vegetable stock, beans, potatoes, peppers, corn, Italian seasoning, bay leaves, and parmesan cheese rind, if using, then turn the heat up to high to bring the soup to a simmer. Turn the heat back down to medium then simmer until the potatoes are tender, 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add the kale then simmer until tender, 5 minutes. Squeeze in a bit of fresh lemon juice — the soup shouldn’t taste lemony, just brightened — plus more seasoned salt and pepper if desired.
  4. Remove the bay leaves (you can leave the parmesan cheese rind in the soup to continue to flavor it) then scoop the soup into bowls and top with parmesan cheese and/or 1/2 — 1 teaspoon pesto per bowl.
  5. To freeze: cool the soup completely then scoop into gallon-size freezer Ziplock bags, seal, and freeze flat, OR scoop into Souper Cubes and freeze for up to 3 months.

This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats,

photo collage of vegetable soup

Photos by Ashley McLaughlin


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