This Recipe Coaxes Every Bit of Flavor From Virtually Any Vegetable

Yay! Leftovers! Episode 5: Frozen Vegetable Soup

If you're like me, there's a stack of frozen vegetables piled up in the back of the freezer. I seemed to collect extra last winter when trips to the store were few and far between. Time to move some out. And happily, it’s also the start of soup season. In the video, I sort of follow the recipe here — on purpose really, to encourage you to just wing it, using whatever odds and ends you have. Best of all, it’s a recipe that coaxes every bit of flavor from virtually any vegetable.

Frozen Vegetable Soup

Makes: 4 servings
Time: 30 to 60 minutes, depending on how soft you want the vegetables

Almost all frozen vegetables are minimally processed and flash-frozen right after harvest, without any additions. Many are grown in the United States and they’re a gift to hurried cooks. For ideas to make this more of a meal or include fresh vegetables, see variations. A hearty loaf of whole-grain bread on the side is always welcome.


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling

  • 1 onion

  • 2 garlic cloves

  • Salt 

  • 6 cups any frozen vegetables (about 11/2 pounds)

  • Bouquet garni of fresh herbs (or use 1 tablespoon dried Italian herb blend)

  • 1 small (15-ounce) can of diced tomatoes

  • 3 cups water, plus more as needed

  • Pepper


1. Put the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Trim, peel, and chop the onion; add it to the pot. Peel and chop 2 garlic cloves; add them to the pot and stir.

2. Cook, stirring occasionally until the onion softens, 3 to 5 minutes. Start adding the vegetables, firmest first, stirring occasionally until they thaw and begin to get tender. Continue adding and stirring, adjusting the heat to prevent burning, until the vegetables in the pot begin to thaw. Toss in the bouquet garni (or dried herbs).

5. Add the tomatoes and 3 cups water, and a pinch of salt. Bring the soup to a boil, then lower the heat so it bubbles steadily but gently, and cook, stirring once or twice and adding a little more water if needed, until the vegetables are as tender (and the broth is as deeply flavored) as you like. Stir in some pepper and taste and adjust the seasoning. Remove the bouquet garni if you used one and serve, drizzled with more olive oil.


Creamy Frozen Vegetable Soup. When the soup is ready, turn off the heat and purée, using an immersion or upright blender. Add 1 cup cream if you’d like and reheat before serving.

Hearty Frozen Vegetable Soup. More substantial and won’t take more time if you have any of these ingredients—for example, bits of leftover braises and stews—parked in the fridge. When the soup is ready add roasted or grilled chopped chicken or other meat or fish; canned or cooked beans; any cooked rice or grain; or buttered egg noodles. Then cook long enough to just heat through before serving.

Frozen and Fresh Vegetable Soup. If you’ve got time to prepare any fresh vegetables, go for it, substituting them for part of the total weight. The same technique will work perfectly. Trim and chop whatever vegetables you’d like, then organize and cook them as described.

Adapted from the upcoming How to Cook Everything Fast, Completely Revised 2nd Edition