Vegetarian Soup

We’ve been living in a winter wonderland lately. We’ve gotten so much snow that my dog, Cookie, can barely keep her head above it when we go outside (she’s smaller than you think). I’m thankful to have electricity and gearing up for more winter weather this weekend.

This hearty soup is exactly what I need. It’s brimming with fresh veggies and warms me right up. Soup to the rescue!

This homemade vegetable soup with quinoa is light but filling and packs great for lunch. Like most soups, it tastes even better the next day. Bonus? It freezes well, too. I love keeping my freezer stocked with hearty soups and defrosting one whenever I need a quick but nutritious meal.

This soup is vegan unless you want to top it with Parmesan cheese, which isn’t a bad idea if you ask me. The ingredients list, while a little on the long side, includes mostly pantry items. Every single one of them is nutritious!

Quinoa Vegetable Soup Recipe Development

Confession: the idea for this soup recipe came from Trader Joe’s. (You know what they say about grocery shopping while hungry.) A few years ago, their “vegetable soup with quinoa and kale” caught my eye in the refrigerated section right as my stomach grumbled.

I was initially skeptical about quinoa in soup (will it get mushy? does the flavor play nicely with the other ingredients?), but now I’m only wondering what took me so long to try it.

Quinoa was meant for soup. It lends some extra protein and hearty texture. Unlike most other vegetable soups, which are too light to count as a full meal, this is a true meal-in-a-bowl if you eat enough of it.

I adapted this recipe from my lentil soup, which has gotten quite a few raving reviews. I hope you enjoy this one just as much.

Recipe Notes & Tips

I wrote the recipe so it’s easily adapted to seasons. Winter squash would be lovely in place of the zucchini that I used.

This soup straddles the line between soup and stew, but whatever you call it, it’s delicious.

If you want more of a soup, use 3/4 cup quinoa and 1 cup seasonal veggies. If you want more of a stew, use a full cup of quinoa, two cups of seasonal vegetables, and throw in some extra greens.

Quinoa Vegetable Soup

This healthy homemade vegetable soup recipe is full of veggies, kale, and quinoa. It’s easy to make and good for you, too! This soup makes great leftovers. It’s gluten-free and vegan, as long as you don’t top it with optional Parmesan cheese. Recipe yields 4 to 6 servings of soup.


  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow or white onion, chopped
  • 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 to 2 cups chopped seasonal vegetables, like zucchini, yellow squash, bell pepper, sweet potatoes or butternut squash
  • 6 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 large can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes
  • Scant 1 cup quinoa, rinsed well in a fine mesh colander (use less for a lighter, more broth-y soup)
  • 4 cups (32 ounces) vegetable broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt, more to taste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 can (15 ounces) great northern beans or chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup or more chopped fresh kale or collard greens, tough ribs removed
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons lemon juice, to taste
  • Optional garnish: freshly grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Warm the olive oil in a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat. Once the oil is shimmering, add the chopped onion, carrot, celery, seasonal vegetables and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring often, until the onion has softened and is turning translucent, about 6 to 8 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic and thyme. Cook until fragrant while stirring frequently, about 1 minute. Pour in the diced tomatoes with their juices and cook for a few more minutes, stirring often.
  3. Pour in the quinoa, broth and the water. Add 1 teaspoon salt, 2 bay leaves and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Season generously with freshly ground black pepper. Raise heat and bring the mixture to a boil, then partially cover the pot and reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer.
  4. Cook for 25 minutes, then remove the lid and add the beans and the chopped greens. Continue simmering for 5 minutes or more, until the greens have softened to your liking.
  5. Remove the pot from heat, then remove the bay leaves. Stir in 1 teaspoon lemon juice. Taste and season with more salt, pepper and/or lemon juice until the flavors really sing. (You might need up to ½ teaspoon more salt, depending on your vegetable broth and your personal preferences.) Divide into bowls and top with grated Parmesan if you’d like.

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