I must have been a strange child. As I divulged to you earlier, in my early years, I did not like honey. Or rice. I would push rice around my plate to convince my parents that I’d eaten it all. Years later, both parents told me they were never fooled by my rice-scooting shenanigans. But I DID like vegetables. Yeah. Like I said. Weird. Fast forward a couple of decades, and now, not only do I love honey and rice, but I also rely on my mom for a bi-weekly assortment of farm-fresh vegetables (I guess you could say I have my own farmer’s market). Yesterday, she brought a huge box full of late-spring vegetables from her garden. Carrots, herbs, swiss chard, collard greens, shallots, and lettuce… It was vegetable heaven. So I had this fridge full to the gills of fresh vegetables, and a couple of errant bugs that previously enjoyed their short lives out on the farm. After a day of ceiling-painting, however, cooking up a crazy meal was not on the docket. Enter fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants soup night (working title). A while back, I learned that soup is one of the easiest things to improvise. I never follow a recipe any more, so every soup we eat is a little different. Here’s how I do it. Random Vegetable Soup Less of a recipe, more of a technique You’ll need: 2 tablespoons of butter or olive oil garlic, onion, or shallots (about 1/2 cup, diced or minced; a mixture is best) Vegetables (celery, carrots, potatoes, turnips, swiss chard) Broth or water Herbs or seasonings Other things that work will in soup: Canned tomatoes Beans (cooked; canned is fine) Noodles Quinoa, Israeli cous cous, or other grains Browned beef Boiled or rotisseried chicken The basic process is to start with your fat in a large pot. Heat it over medium heat, then add your onion/garlic/shallots and cook until your kitchen smells unbelievably good. An approximation, yes, but you’ll know when the time is right. Then add the celery or carrots. Once you’ve sauteed a few veggies for a few minutes, go ahead and add your broth. Bring it to a boil. Add veggies in the order in which they’ll cook (potatoes, carrots, and other root vegetables first, followed by greens and herbs), simmering for a total of 40 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and the soup is flavorful. Be creative—and liberal—with your spices. Add noodles about 10 minutes before you’re ready to serve, but be sure to keep an eye on the broth level and add more liquid if needed. Have soup suggestions? Tell us about ’em!