melissa iwai’s snowy day vegetable soup

“Little is nobler than presiding over a kettle of homemade soup.” ~ Marty Martindale, food writer and bon vivant

As you can see if you peek behind Chef Paddington through the dining room window, we recently had some proper snow, something that always happens in these parts during the third week of January.

I couldn’t have ordered more perfect weather for making the vegetable soup that’s included in Melissa Iwai’s charming picture book, Soup Day, a recipe I’d been wanting to try ever since I reviewed the book last year. Of course one doesn’t have to wait for snow to make soup, but in this case it deepened my connection to this sweet story of a mother and daughter in the kitchen.

The recipe is designed with simplicity, common ingredients, and child participation in mind. As the story suggests, asking hungry munchkins to help select colorful veggies at the grocers and later allowing them (with an adult’s guiding hand) to slice the soft ingredients like mushroom and zucchini, enables them to master new skills and develop a sense of pride. Melissa admits this is how she got her son Jamie to eat mushrooms!

Since Cornelius was busy working on his Sunday Bear series, and the other furry kitchen helpers were glued to the television set watching Downton Abbey, I recruited the moustached leprechaun as my sous chef. He’s a champion potato peeler who used to rip through 100-lb bags of spuds for a resort hotel summer job and can wield a paring knife with the best of them.



This particular assignment was small potatoes ☺ for him, since it only called for 2 cups, peeled and cubed. I used my small junior food processor to dice up carrots, onions and celery, which were quickly sautéed in olive oil. I then added chicken stock, and after bringing it to a simmer, added spices, mushrooms, more carrots and zucchini which had been sliced into rounds. My pasta of choice this time was elbow macaroni, which I boiled separately and then added to my soup bowl just before eating.

Yum! Simple, basic, and comforting on a winter’s day. I felt cleansed and renewed after eating it, and enjoyed the leftovers for lunch for several days. I’ll definitely make this easy-to-love, healthy soup again, perhaps experimenting next time with beef or vegetable stock, or a combination of the two. It’ll also be fun to use different pastas.


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced carrots
1/2 cup diced celery
6 cups chicken, vegetable, or beef stock
2 cups peeled and cubed potatoes
1/2 cup carrots, sliced into rounds
2 cups zucchini, sliced into rounds
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme
3 ounces dried pasta of choice
1/4 cup packed chopped parsley leaves

1. Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed stockpot over medium high heat. When oil is hot, add diced onions, carrots, celery, and a pinch of salt to pot. Sauté until onions are soft and translucent.

2. Add stock. Increase heat to high and bring to a simmer. Once simmering, add potatoes, carrot rounds, zucchini, and mushrooms to pot. Add pepper, thyme, and salt to taste. Reduce heat to low; cover and cook until vegetables are fork tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.

3. Bring water to boil in a medium sauce pan. Add a pinch of salt to water. When water comes to a boil, add pasta and cool to al dente doneness according to package instructions. Drain and add to vegetable soup just before serving.

4. Season to taste with salt and pepper and garnish soup with chopped parsley. 


Here’s a video of Melissa (a self-taught chef and winner of Cooking Light’s 2010 Ultimate Reader Recipe Grand Prize) making her Snowy Day Vegetable Soup:

Make this soup soon for those you love!

♥ See my review of Soup Day (Henry Holt, 2010) here.

♥ Famous Vegetable Soup lovers:

  • Pat Boone (who has it for breakfast)
  • Eisenhower (who made his own garnished with nasturtium stems, particularly in times of stress)
  • Willa Cather
  • Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  • George Bernard Shaw
  • Shania Twain
  • Adolf Hitler (who became a vegetarian later in life)

♥ Melissa Iwai’s official website. Visit her blog, The Hungry Artist, for more light and healthy, kid-friendly recipes.

ETA: Melissa is giving away an autographed copy of Soup Day at her blog. Deadline: February 6, 2012! Details here.

This post is being linked to Beth Fish Read’s Weekend Cooking, where all are invited to share anything food-related — fiction, nonfiction, movie and cookbook reviews, recipes, musings, random thoughts or quotes, etc.

SLURP (unless you live in Ocean City, New Jersey, where it is supposedly illegal to slurp your soup) !!


Copyright © 2012 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

27 thoughts on “melissa iwai’s snowy day vegetable soup

  1. Add my husband to that list of vegetable soup lovers! I used to add the pasta to my soup to cook it, but it tends to get mushy, doesn’t it? Much better to cook it separately (and not be lazy) and pour the soup over the pasta in the bowl. Now I must go downstairs and start my own cranberry bean soup!


  2. Yes, the pasta gets mushy and also absorbs too much liquid. Cranberry bean sounds like a very unusual soup! Interesting combination :).


  3. Can’t get any better than this soup! Thanks for sharing. I usually just add in any vegetable I happen to have, but will try to follow all the ingredients this time! (I liked the book, too when you reviewed it.)


    1. This was my first time adding zucchini to soup — liked it! This basic recipe is definitely open to any improvising; as you say, a good way to use up leftover veggies. Don’t forget to enter Melissa’s giveaway. Just found out this morning she was running it after I posted this :).


  4. **SSSLLLLLUUUUURRRRRP** Oh, excuse me!

    Beef stew has been simmering in the crock pot all day and husband is still not home (7 PM here). I think I’ll have to ladle a tiny bit to hold me over til he gets here!


    1. Wow, you’re a champion slurper! Mmmmmmm, I love the smell of stew simmering in the crockpot. Anticipation builds, and then so satisfying :). Hope you left some stew for your husband . . .


  5. I loved this book and reviewed it last year too. I passed the book along to a neighbor who has two small boys. I hope they made the soup. I love that you made the soup and that you shared the video.


    1. The soup is so basic and simple, perfect for getting kids involved in the kitchen. I’ll have to go read your review of Soup Day :).


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