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When I’m sick, I have a whole repertoire of soup recipes I bust out. My dicing gets a little, well, dicey, and I’m more prone to accidents, but all of these recipes offer some benefit depending on whatever is ailing you (hot and sour soup is coming up next for sinuses!) that are worth facing the kitchen while ill. This particular soup, one that again I believe was my grandmother’s genius invention, is the perfect remedy to any flu, cold, or illness that comes knocking, especially once the chill hits the air.

Ok, so maybe it doesn’t have the amazing healing powers I like to pretend it does. But this hearty soup is chock-full of nutrients as it’s purely vegetables (albeit with about a tablespoon of vegetable oil and some potential pasta if desired). The secret ingredient? V8 used as the broth.

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In general, I love tomatoes, but am wary of tomato products. I have this weird quirk where I can’t stand any tomato sauce product to sit around on dishes (salsa, marinara, and worst of all: ketchup). I devour tomatoes with just a little salt or throw it in dishes, but sometimes leave it just at that. I do not drink V8. I do, however, always have an enormous jug of V8 on hand just in case I get sick to make this soup.

Some of the best recipes, I think, bring us back to our favorite childhood meals. Even though my grandmother came up with this one only a few years ago, not long before she passed, it’s like an upgrade from the canned vegetable soup I loved when I was sick as a kid. It’s richer and fresher, but it holds the comfort of home. And when you’re feeling under the weather (or stuck inside because of the weather), there’s nothing any of us really wants more.

Want to whip up this wonderful creation? Well, I forgot a picture of all the ingredients bundled together, but luckily for all of us, I am a woman of words. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 giant jug (or in this case, can) of good ole V8 tomato juice
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3 zucchini squash
  • half of a yellow onion, diced (or, as in my case, left big so I could avoid them)
  • 2-4 potatoes, peeled, cut into bite sized pieces, and boiled
  • 1 bag frozen veggies
  • 1 pot pasta (if you want); it’s added in cooked at the end, so you can use leftovers or make some fresh

First, dice up all the onions and zucchini while you heat the vegetable oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Throw them in the pot and cook until onions are translucent, stirring often.

ImageOnce the onions are clear and aromatic, add about half of the V8- just enough to cover the vegetables. Add the pre-cooked potatoes, and add more V8 if needed to cover them.

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Let it cook, at least fifteen minutes to twenty minutes. This helps all the juices that have seeped out of the zucchini and onion get sucked into the broth, which absorbs the flavor beautifully. This is one of those dishes that the longer you let it sit, the more incredible it will be. If you want to let it stew all day, feel free– just have some additional extra V8 on hand to add more.

After you’ve let it stew, add in the bag of frozen vegetables. My favorite type includes lima beans, but I know I’m a little unusual here. The most important vegetable is the zucchini for the flavor at the beginning. Other than that, it doesn’t matter much.

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Add in the rest of the V8 with the vegetables.

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Now you have two options. You can cover, keep the heat medium, and serve in another fifteen or twenty minutes (or less, if you’re really hungry). Or, you can cover it, reduce to a simmer, and let it continue to absorb and concentrate those amazing flavors for a while longer. I always like to let it sit for at least 45 minutes, just because nothing tastes as great as a soup that’s been stewing all day.

Regardless, now is a good time to boil pasta if you want to add it and if you haven’t made it (or have any one hand) already. We used gluten free pasta, of course!

Once the soup looks thick and the whole house smells good (and, let’s be honest, you can’t stand how great is smells anymore), you’re ready.

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This picture is a glowing example of why I should have my sister take photos for me, because it just doesn’t do it justice. The color, in person, is as rich and beautiful as the soup itself. Add the soup and pasta to bowls individually, letting everyone choose the pasta to soup ratio (my mom always made extra pasta for the canned soup we had as a kid). Whether you’re sick or (hopefully) not, it’s a good, easy healthy dinner, and it reheats just as well (especially with a little V8 added in while microwaving to thin it out a bit).

Healthy, easy, and full of childhood comfort. A perfect sickness soup, indeed!

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