Hortosoupa is a Greek vegetable soup that is made with a variety of delicious vegetables, olive oil, and tomato. In my version of this rustic and traditional Greek soup I have used onions, celery, garlic, and leeks which have been sautéed in olive oil. Next I add carrots, potatoes, turnips, and peas and I cook everything in a vegetable broth with tomato. This soup is comfort in a bowl, and so easy to make!
I love vegetable soups and often turn to soups such as minestrone, cream of tomato soup and even this super simple cream of pumpkin soup when I want something warming, satisfying, and easy to make. This hortosoupa is definitely going to make it into regular rotation.
Why this recipe works
A great vegetable soup recipe is something that every home cook should have in their recipe collection. This hortosoupa is great because it can be served to almost anyone! It is vegetarian (vegan actually), nistisimo (so perfect for Orthodox lent), gluten-free, dairy-free, and nut-free. What it isn’t free of is flavour – it is full of that!
Although you certainly don’t want to use rotten veggies to make your soup, you can use produce that is a little past its prime. So, if your celery is a little wilted, if your carrots are a little sad looking, no matter! This soup is very forgiving!
Another reason this soup is so wonderful is because it is so versatile! You can really let your imagination go wild with this Greek vegetable soup and substitute different vegetables if that is what you have on hand.
Cooking tips and helpful hints
Prepare all of your ingredients before you start cooking
The hardest and most time consuming part of making hortosoupa is preparing your ingredients. Do this ahead of time and the rest is easy. I like to chop and peel all of my vegetables and keep them in separate bowls, combining those which I will be adding to the pot at the same time. So, for example, one bowl for the onions and celery, one bowl for the garlic and leeks, and then a larger bowl for the rest of the veggies.
I sometimes prepare these ingredients the morning of, or even the day before I plan to make my hortosoupa. When I am that organized, dinner is ready with absolutely no stress!
Keep the lid partially on your pot
When cooking soups like this one I like to keep the lid partially on my pot. I don’t cover my pot completely, because I do want some of the steam to escape, but I do cover it mostly as I don’t want too much water to evaporate – it is a fine balance!
Know when your soup is ready
Some of the vegetables in your soup will cook more quickly than others. When checking to see if your hortosoupa is ready to serve, be sure to check the vegetables which take longest to cook – these are usually your root vegetables like your turnip or carrots.
Onion – I use yellow onions because they have a strong flavour. When you saute them, they caramelize nicely because of their high sugar content. Even though they do not get caramelized in this soup, they do soften and get sweet.
Celery – This crunchy vegetable is often used to start off many recipes. It holds up well to long cooking, and has a great earthy flavour.
Leek – With their sweet and mild flavour, leeks are a great addition to hortosoupa. I use the white part of the leek, and the lighter green part. Washing leek well is really important.
Garlic – A common cooking ingredients, garlic has a distinct taste which varies depending on how you prepare it.
Vegetable bouillon – Cubes of dehydrated vegetable stock. A cube of vegetable bouillon dissolved in water is used in place of vegetable broth. Keeping vegetable bouillon in the pantry is very handy.
Water – Regular tap water works just fine in this recipe.
Carrots – Sweet, earthy and nutritious – carrots are a staple vegetable that can be found in most basic soups.
Potato – You can use any potato that you have. I like to use Yukon Gold potatoes because I find them creamy and sweet.
Turnip – This root vegetable that has a very distinct flavour. It is mild but slightly peppery.
Peas – I use frozen peas. They look beautiful in the soup, and are sweet and bursting with flavour.
Tomato sauce – I usually use homemade tomato sauce but you can also use a good quality passata.
Parsley – Chopped flat-leaf (also known as Italian parsley) can be used as a garnish right before serving.
Lemon – I sometimes add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to servings of hortosoupa, but this is not essential.
How to make it
Prepping the ingredients might take a bit of time, depending on how comfortable you are using a knife to dice vegetables. Once that is done however, making this soup is a breeze!
Add olive oil, onions and celery to your pot and cook over medium heat for about five minutes, stirring regularly until softened. Next add the garlic and the leeks and cook for an additional 2 – 3 minutes, stirring regularly.
Place your bouillon cube in water to dissolve; you may break it apart with your fingers first. Add water to your pot. Next add in the carrots, potatoes, turnip, tomato sauce and peas. Reduce heat to medium low, cover your pot, and cook for 45 – 55 minutes, or until your vegetables are cooked through. Season with salt and pepper.
If desired serve your soup with fresh parsley sprinkled on top. You can also add the juice of fresh lemon if desired. Enjoy!
Use vegetable broth or powdered vegetable stock instead of a cube of vegetable bouillon.
If you are using vegetable broth, replace all or part of the water with it. If using powdered vegetable stock replace the cube of veggie bouillon with one tablespoon of vegetable stock.
Vary the vegetables
Once you have the basics of how you make hortosoupa, you can use different vegetables if you like. For example, you can replace the turnip with parsnip or celery root. You can use corn instead of peas. You can use sweet potato instead of regular white potato.
Use vegetable oil instead of olive oil
Use vegetable oil instead of olive oil when sautéing your vegetables for the soup.
Frequently asked questions
What is the best way to wash leeks?
I cut off the dark green ends of leeks and then cut them lengthwise. I run each half under cold running water and use my fingers to ensure that water runs between the layers of the leek. Then, slice the leek and place the pieces in a bowl full of cold water. Swish around so that any remaining dirt settles to the bottom.
Is hortosoupa good for you?
It is! This vegetable soup is full of vegetables. It is low calorie, low fat and full of vitamins and minerals.
If you would like to add some protein to your hortosoupa, add some canned beans. At the same time that you add all of the vegetables add a can of rinsed and canned beans. Kidney beans, navy beans and chickpeas would all work well.
About 10 minutes before the end of cooking time, add any small pasta that you like to your soup. This will make it heartier and more filling. You can use anything from elbow macaroni to ditalini to orzo.
How to store and reheat
You can store the hortosoupa in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days. Any longer and you can freeze your soup – I like to freeze soup in freezer safe storage bags. I lay them flat until frozen and then stand them upright in the freezer to save space.
Leftover soup (or soup that has been thawed from frozen) can be reheated on the stovetop or in the microwave.
If you love hortosoupa, you will also enjoy these other traditional Greek soups.
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Hortosoupa, Greek vegetable soup
- 1 Large soup pot
- 1 medium onion diced
- 3 stalks celery diced
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 leek diced
- 2 medium carrots diced
- 6 cups water
- 1 vegetable bouillon cube
- 1 small turnip peeled and diced
- 3 small potatoes peeled and diced
- 1 cup tomato sauce
- 1¼ cup frozen peas
- ½ tbsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- ¼ cup parsley finely chopped, optional
- ½ lemon
- Add olive oil, onions and celery to your pot and cook over medium heat for about five minutes, stirring regularly until softened. Next add the garlic and the leeks and cook for an additional 2 - 3 minutes, stirring regularly.1 medium onion, 3 stalks celery, 2 garlic cloves, ¼ cup olive oil, 1 leek
- Place your bouillon cube in water to dissolve; you may break it apart with your fingers first. Add water to your pot. Next add in the carrots, potatoes, turnip, tomato sauce and peas. Reduce heat to medium low, cover your pot, and cook for 45 - 55 minutes, or until your vegetables are cooked through. Season with salt and pepper.2 medium carrots, 6 cups water, 1 vegetable bouillon cube, 1 small turnip, 3 small potatoes, 1 cup tomato sauce, 1¼ cup frozen peas, ½ tbsp salt, 1 tsp pepper
- If desired serve your soup with fresh parsley sprinkled on top. You can also add the juice of fresh lemon if desired. Enjoy!¼ cup parsley, ½ lemon