Making the perfect vegetable soup takes a little know-how. If you throw all of the ingredients in the stock and boil away, some of the veggies will likely turn to mush while others are rock hard. In this article, I’ll guide you on what is the best order to put vegetables in soup from my experience.
The first vegetables to add to soup are the aromatics which are sautéed like onion, garlic, and celery. Then any hard, starchy vegetables like potatoes and carrots, followed by tougher greens and beans like broccoli. Finally, near the end, you can add delicate vegetables and leafy greens which require very little cooking, like spinach or peas.
This order helps to prevent any vegetables from overcooking. Starchy vegetables like potatoes should be cooked for a maximum of 30 minutes to prevent them from going mushy and disintegrating. So from that measure, you can work out the rough cooking times for the whole soup.
In the rest of this post, I’ll cover more vegetables in detail and answer some of the other common questions when making vegetable soup.
What Order Do You Put Vegetables In Soup?
Aromatics build the base flavors for your soup and really add a depth of flavor later on. These are often sautéed to bring out the best taste from caramelization. You don’t have to add aromatics, so if not then skip to the next section. Some of these examples are:
- Herbs and spices
A general rule is to add your root vegetable next, as these vegetables are the ones that take the longest to soften. Once they are in the soup, you can add your stock to cover and cook them.
- Sweet potatoes
Before the hardest vegetables are ready, add your batch of tough greens and beans to the soup. Since these take much less time they are added nearer the end of the cooking process.
- Canned beans
- Bell Peppers
Finally, you can add your leafy greens and other delicate vegetables which need the least cooking:
Cooking times for vegetables can also help you remember when it is best to add them to your soup.
1. Starchy vegetables that take about 20 minutes to cook will include potato, sweet potato, and turnip.
2. Hard vegetables that take about 15 minutes to cook will include carrots, parsnips, pumpkin, and yams.
3. Firm vegetables that take about 10 minutes to cook will include broccoli, string beans, brussel sprouts, cauliflower and leeks.
4. Leafy and delicate vegetables that take about 5 minutes to cook will include bok choy, cabbage, kale, spinach, peas, and corn.
The time that these vegetables take to cook depends on their size and density. Chopping them up into small cubes will be better for faster cooking times.
Check out this minestrone soup recipe – the king of veggie soups!
Do You Have To Sauté Vegetables Before Making Soup?
Some vegetables benefit from being sautéed before making soup such as aromatic vegetables like onion, celery, and garlic. These concentrate and sweeten their flavors when caramelized in the pan rather than being boiled. The other raw vegetables are added later.
The French call this technique the mirepoix. This is the name for the flavor base of your soup, stew, sauces, or stocks.
When starting your soup, you want to sauté some basic vegetables in a bit of fat. Depending on the soup style you are planning on making, I would suggest butter or olive oil.
These vegetables will be the base stock of your soup and add some great rich flavors to your pot. Fry up the following veggies, usually finely chopped, in a ratio of 2:1:1, and add a few cloves of chopped garlic.
After which, add your stock or water and simmer to create your stock base for the rest of your ingredients.
Whether you want to caramelize the veggies to add a deeper flavor to the soup or if you just want to sauté them is your choice. Some soups will obviously benefit greatly from your veggies being caramelized, such as the decadent French onion soup or perhaps a heartwarming roasted butternut cream soup.
For more tips on building flavor, check out my post on how to fix a bland soup.
Some other great vegetables that you can sauté before adding them to the final stages of your soup are,
- Bell Peppers
- Sweet potatoes
How Long Do Potatoes And Carrots Take To Get Soft In Soup?
Potatoes are starchy root vegetables, it takes a while for the heat to penetrate the outer layer of the potato to reach the middle. This is why placing them in cold water to begin cooking is best for this type of vegetable. They also take roughly 20 minutes to cook through evenly.
Carrots are hard vegetables and need about 15 minutes to cook evenly, so having evenly cut pieces of carrots will ensure they cook uniformly in your soup, allowing each carrot portion to be as delicious as the last one.
The cooking time of these veggies also depends greatly on the size you cut them in. The above times are for cubed portions.
But suppose you are looking at pureeing the soup and making a concoction of all the mixed ingredients. In that case, it’s important to make sure both these vegetables are soft enough to be liquidized by a submersible mixer.
How Do You Keep Potatoes From Getting Mushy In Soup?
As potatoes are very starchy vegetables, it takes the heat a while to penetrate the outer layers. Placing your potatoes in boiling water means that the outside layer is exposed to heat for longer than the inside. That is the reason why your potato is mushy and flaky.
Also be wary of the total time that the potatoes are cooked for. If they need 20-30 minutes and your other vegetables need 15 minutes, then aim to add the veggies around halfway through cooking the potatoes to avoid the potatoes getting overcooked and mushy.
After sautéing your base flavored veggies, add cold water and your cubed potatoes to the blend. The potatoes will be exposed to the cold water and gradually heat up evenly throughout as the water increases in temperature.
This means that the potato will cook evenly from outside to inside, and you will have a firmly cooked piece of potato infused with the naturally good flavors of the soup.
Hopefully, you now know what order to put vegetables in your soup.
Making soup is not that complicated, and understanding how the vegetables cook is the key to knowing at what point each ingredient needs to be added.
Starchy veggies go in first in cold water, and as the temperature increases, you slowly start to add the other vegetables according to their grouping. Keep your soft greens until the end to keep them crunchy.