Magic Soup

My ever problem solving daughter is always creating new suggestions for dinner and desserts; favourites like Mialita, Chuchetta and the like. Her recipes, with the addition of marshmallows, ketchup and eggs kind of remind me of that show that aired around here in the 80’s I always wanted to go on, “Just Like Mom” But this morning, when I rolled out of bed complaining of still feeling under the weather from the night before, she suggested Magic Soup.

Magic soup is something that we’ve made before and she will eat it. All of it, as if it were well, like, magic.

First she’ll tell me onion, then a carrot, some tomatoes maybe a little celery if she’s daring and somehow this soup is normal… soothing and delicious, kind of like Minestrone.

Although my barren stomach felt it couldn’t handle much more than the thought of dry toast, her idea of this to make me better was just what I needed.

Like the kiss on the forehead you’d get from your mom when you were sick, I got one from my five year old and her bowl of soup.


Really, the soup should be named clean out the fridge soup, but I thought everything and the kitchen sink sounded a little, dare I say, tastier. Beyond an onion, carrot, stalk of celery and a few tomatoes this soup is great with just about any vegetables you have kicking around in the crisper.

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Onion, diced
1 Clove Garlic, minced
1 Carrot, finely diced
1 Stalk Celery
1/2 Sweet Potato, diced (optional)
1 White Turnip, peeled and finely diced (optional)
1 Bunch Baby Spinach, well rinsed and roughly chopped
1 Zucchini, peeled and diced (optional)
1/2 Cup Frozen Green Peas (optional)
1 – 28 oz can Diced Tomatoes
1/2 Cup Pearl Barley
1 Potato, peeled and diced (optional)
12 Cups Water
1 teaspoon Rosemary, ground
1/2 teaspoon Thyme
1/4 teaspoon Coriander, ground
1 teaspoon Salt, or to taste
4 Black Peppecorns, or to taste
2 Bay Leaves

Peel and dice the onion, carrot, turnip, sweet potato, zucchini and potato.
Heat the oil in a large stockpot.
Sauté the onion, carrot and minced garlic.
Chop the celery into thirds, keeping it easy to remove later.
Once the onion has softened, about 3 minutes, add the harder vegetables; sweet potato, turnip and potato along with the barley.
Cover with water and bring to a rolling simmer.
Using a mortar pestle, grind the coriander, rosemary and peppercorns.
Add the ground spices, bay leaves, thyme and salt to the soup.
Once the carrots are fork tender, add the softer vegetables; green beans.
Add the tomatoes and continue to simmer for about another 5 minutes, then add the softest vegetables; zucchini, peas.
Adjust seasoning, remove the celery and roughly chop the spinach and add to the soup.

Serve with fresh bread and freshly grated parmigiano reggiano, if desired.

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I'm a chef, food stylist, cancer survivor, recipe developer, art director and photographer. My obsession for food, how it looks and makes me healthier has driven my passion for chronicling my journey through photos. Find more about me on: or my portfolio at:

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