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On Sundays, I load up on fruits and veggies at a local farmers’ market. By the time Saturday rolls around, whatever is left in my vegetable bin isn’t so pretty and, inevitably, these items end up in a soup, a salsa or something random.

Cleaning out the vegetable bin (to make room for the newest and the freshest) left me with a few string beans, some broccoli, leftover roasted cauliflower, sauteed leeks (I keep sauteed leeks on hand to put in weekday morning eggs), about a half cup of cooked lentils (leftovers from a previous meal), a carrot, a few stalks of celery and a minced shallot.

With these ingredients, I whipped up a pot of soup in less than 45 minutes for the perfect Saturday afternoon lunch. It is always so gratifying when I can create a healthy, whole meal without a plan or a recipe. Soup, unlike baking, does not have to be exact. It’s not a science. Check your provisions, be creative, chop away and make a double batch.

Use-It-Up Vegetable Soup

2 tablespoons coconut oil

1/2 cup leeks, shallots or onions, diced fine

2 gloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup carrots, peeled and diced

1/4 cup celery, diced

1/2 cup fresh string beans, cleaned and diced

1/2 cup broccoli, chopped

1/2 cup cauliflower, chopped

1 zucchini, diced

1 yellow potato, diced

6 to 8 cups homemade vegetable stock

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1/2 cup lentils, cooked, or 1 can (15 ounces) white beans, rinsed and drained

Sea salt

Fresh ground pepper

Red wine vinegar

In a large, heavy duty stock pot, heat coconut oil. Add leeks, shallots or onions. Saute on medium until soft, about 10 minutes.

Add garlic and saute for 1 minute. Toss in carrots, celery, string beans, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini and potato. Stir to coat and saute for 5 minutes.

Add vegetable stock and tomato paste. Bring to a boil. Simmer for 15 minutes or until vegetables are soft.

Add lentils or white beans. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Right before serving, add a splash of red wine vinegar.

Optional add-ins: Sauteed sausage (out of casing), chopped kale, spinach or basil. Makes 1 pot or 6 servings.

Per serving: 171 calories; 5 g fat (4 g saturated fat; 26 percent calories from fat); 24 g carbohydrates; 5 g sugar; 0 mg cholesterol; 595 mg sodium; 8 g protein; 4 g fiber.

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