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Seriously Simple: A light vegetable soup for chilly spring days

Diane Rossen Worthington, Tribune Content Agency on

Author Cara Mangini certainly knows her way around a vegetable garden. In her latest book, “The Vegetable Eater,” she generously shares recipes that highlight vegetables from salads, stews, sandwiches, casseroles, pies and, of course, this light, satisfying soup.

You’ll find a treasure-trove of advice, how-to tips and techniques in “The Vegetable Eater.” I can’t wait to dig into Eggplant Caponata, Asparagus Sushi Rice Bowl and Orange-Miso Soba Noodle Bowl, to name a few. The photography is vibrant, and the recipes are very clear with tons of extra information. This is the book I would gift to any vegetable lover.

This light, yet comforting vegetable soup is perfect for those chilly spring days that seem to drag on (or pop up out of nowhere). To fully capture the depth and deliciousness of the broth, the author hopes you’ll make your own and calls it “a mindless, hands-off task.”

As a Seriously Simple cook, I’ll choose a good-quality reduced sodium vegetable stock at the market. But no matter how the stock comes together for you, once you have it ready to go and the veggies are prepped, you can make this soup in about the time it takes to boil the pasta. For a heartier soup, replace the orzo with store-bought cheese tortellini. Cook it separately, then add it to the soup just before serving. Let it simmer for a minute until the flavors come together.

Spring Vegetable and Orzo Soup with Parmesan-Miso Broth

Serves 4

6 cups (1 1/2 quarts) vegetable stock (see following recipe) or low-sodium vegetable stock

2 tablespoons red or white miso paste

3-inch Parmesan rind (about 1 ounce) or a small chunk of Parmesan (about ¾ ounce) plus ¾ cup finely grated Parmesan (¾ ounce)

Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup dry orzo

14 asparagus spears, woody ends discarded, spears sliced into 1/4-inch coins, tips left intact

1 cup shelled fresh peas (1 pound in the pod)

4 red radishes, sliced into 1⁄16-inch coins

2 tablespoons best-quality olive oil, plus more for topping

2 tablespoons 1/4-inch chopped fresh chives (or a finely chopped scallion)

1. Bring the vegetable stock to a low simmer over high heat in a medium saucepan. Immediately reduce the heat to maintain a steady, low simmer and whisk in the miso until dissolved. Add the Parmesan rind or piece of Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the orzo, reduce the heat to medium-low to maintain a low boil, and cook for 5 minutes.

2. Carefully add the asparagus and peas; stir to combine. If needed, adjust the heat to return to and maintain a simmer. Continue to cook the pasta and vegetables until the pasta is tender and the peas and asparagus are crisp-tender, another 4 to 5 minutes (9 to 10 minutes total cooking time).

3. Remove the pot from the heat. Stir in about three quarters of the radishes, the oil, 1/4 cup of finely grated Parmesan, and 1 tablespoon of chives. Adjust salt to taste. Ladle the soup into individual bowls for serving. Top each with a generous drizzle of oil and a sprinkle of the remaining Parmesan, and add the remaining radishes and chives. Serve with freshly grated black pepper for topping.

Vegetable Stock


Makes about 6 cups

Note: When preparing other dishes, reserve and freeze vegetables to use for stock. If you have fresh mushrooms, feel free to use the mushroom caps in addition to the stems

10 cups (2 1/2 quarts) water

1/2 large onion, peeled and cut into 6 chunks

1 cup scrubbed and roughly chopped carrots (1/2-inch pieces)

1 cup roughly chopped celery ribs (1/2-inch pieces)

1 leek top (6 inches long), halved lengthwise and all layers rinsed well

1 small fennel bulb, halved lengthwise (optional, but recommended)

5 garlic cloves, peeled

10 fresh shiitake mushroom stems or 5 slices dried shiitake mushrooms

1 bay leaf

3 sprigs fresh thyme

8 peppercorns

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

1. Combine the ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Immediately reduce the heat to maintain a low simmer. Simmer until the vegetables are soft and the stock is flavorful, 1 hour.

2. Let the stock cool briefly and strain it through a fine, double-mesh colander, gently pressing the cooked vegetables to release liquid without pushing the vegetables through the colander. The cooled stock will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days or in the freezer for up to three months.

Reprint with permission from “The Vegetable Eater” (Workman Publishing) by Cara Mangini.

(Diane Rossen Worthington is an authority on new American cooking. She is the author of 18 cookbooks, including “Seriously Simple Parties,” and a James Beard Award-winning radio show host. You can contact her at

©2024 Diane Rossen Worthington. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.




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