A Manifesto on the Art of Vegetable Soup

The Traveler's Lunchbox

What is the true litmus test of a cook? A flawless omelet, a perfect baguette? Melissa of The Traveler's Lunchbox has her own opinion. "From my perspective," she says, "nothing cuts to the chase of kitchen competence like a bowl of plain old vegetable soup."

Why does she consider this the end-all-be-all of a cook's skill? "Vegetable soup," she says, "unfortunately is often seen either as a dumping ground for what is too old or tasteless to consume in any other form, or as a form of punishment from the school of 'if it's healthy, it must taste accordingly!' philosophy."

Melissa argues that a pot of vegetable soup doesn't need truffles, dairy, or other gilded additions to surpass such dull sludge. As evidence she exhibits this Spanish soup: Olla Gitana (Gypsy Pot) from Anya von Bremzen's The New Spanish Table. With a host of delicious things (chickpeas, almonds, tomatoes, saffron, pumpkin) it stands out as an especially delicious example of the genre.

Read her whole piece — it's a cheering section for vegetable soup!

Get Melissa's recipe and read her full piece on vegetable soup: Gypsy Pot, or the Art of Vegetable Soup at The Traveler's Lunchbox

What are your thoughts on vegetable soup? Do you have favorite recipes or techniques for making a vegetable soup stand out?

Related: Basic Techniques: How to Make Homemade Vegetable Stock

(Images: Emma Christensen; Melissa Kronenthal)

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Faith is the executive editor of The Kitchn and the author of three cookbooks. They include Bakeless Sweets (Spring 2013) as well as The Kitchn's first cookbook, which will be published in Fall 2014. She lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband Mike.