Veggie Soup – A Proven Cure for a Case of the Mondays

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It’s Monday, and in the Green Options office that can only mean one thing: Soup Day!

Every Sunday evening I cook up a great big pot of veggie soup for our small team in San Francisco, and others bring bread or drinks. Not only does it add a little spice to an otherwise not-so-fun day of the week, but it also has some environmental benefits.

How so? Simple: less waste from take-out.

When you’re busy running a startup, it can be tough even for the greenest among us to bring lunch from home every day. So we end up consuming a lot of takeout. Even with more restaurants greening their packaging, you still tend to end up with way more napkins than you need, extra utensils, and more. Wouldn’t it be better to simply not worry about packaging at all?

I can bring in a big tupperware container of soup, and use the dishes and silverware in our kitchen, rather than disposables. Beyond that, when I cook from home, I know where every ingredient comes from. I try to use organic when possible, and everything that comes out of my kitchen is vegan-friendly.

So why not try some communal lunches in your office? Even if you work with a much larger group, start up a lunch club, where colleagues can alternate bringing in home-cooked meals. I’d love to hear about other ways you’re eating better in the workplace!

And of course, I’d be a tease to go on and on about soup without offering up a recipe. Without further adieu, here’s this week’s soup:

Red Pepper, Black Bean, and Quinoa Soup

2 Cans crushed tomatoes (28 oz. each)
1 Can black beans (or buy them in bulk and soak them)
3/4 Cup of red quinoa
1 Yellow onion
2 Cloves garlic
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons cooking sherry or wine
1 Jar of pickled red peppers (about 1 pint)
1 Teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 Tablespoon thyme
1 Teaspoon marjoram
Salt and pepper to taste

Chop up the onions and garlic and sautee them in your soup pot for about 8 minutes until soft. Add all of the spices and then add a splash or two of the sherry to deglaze the pot. Lower the heat and add the tomatoes, and then fill one of the empty cans with water to add to the soup. For the second can, fill only halfway.

Drain the liquid from the red peppers* and grind them up in a food processor (or just chop very small) and add to the soup. Stir in the quinoa and cover. Let the soup simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the quinoa is tender, but not mushy. Stir in the black beans and cook, covered for about another 5 minutes.

*This soup was inspired by a small jar of peppers I’d found at my Farmer’s Market. They were a bit more vinegary than typical jarred peppers so I added some extra salt and agave nectar to balance the flavor. You can feel it out with your peppers.

9 thoughts on “Veggie Soup – A Proven Cure for a Case of the Mondays”

  1. Man, I tried so many different angles and lighting techniques, and would you believe this is the best picture I could get? I think perhaps it was the steam.

    Oh well, I’m fine with being a better cook than photographer.

  2. Jeff – I’ll try to not be appalled that your wife doesn’t like quinoa. (It’s my favorite grain!) Barley might be good too though. You’d have to simmer it a bit longer, and it would probably make the soup a bit thicker and starchier.

    But what I love about making soup is that you can really add any grains and veggies that you have on hand. It’s a great way to use up things that might go bad!

  3. Another benefit of communal office lunches is that they’re much cheaper than eating out or takeout.

    They’re especially cheap if Sharon just brings them to you (thanks Sharon!) but regardless, like many green habits, there are economical as well as environmental benefits.

    PS – Jeff, quinoa is my favorite grain too and I’m not even a vegetarian. I think you should urge your wife to reconsider her quinoa prejudices. :)

  4. I like quinoa, too… and will encourage her to reconsider. Her prejudice is born out of one vegan recipe I made that she didn’t care for in general that had quinoa in it… just trying to maintain peace at home…;-)

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