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Corn, zucchini, and tomatoes…oh my! A light and healthy summer vegetable soup is the perfect way to take advantage of all of the season’s fresh produce. Best of all, there’s no need to heat up your kitchen — just turn on your stovetop, Instant Pot, or Crock Pot for this easy homemade vegetable soup recipe that keeps well in the freezer for months. It’s delicious alongside a loaf of crusty bread, a skillet of cornbread, or a basket of buttermilk biscuits.

Close up side shot of a bowl of garden vegetable soup with a spoon and fresh herbs on top

Homemade Vegetable Soup

Summer is a time of bounty, when the local markets and gardens seem to be bursting with fresh fruits and vegetables — and this vegetable soup recipe is the perfect way to put that produce to good use.

After all, if you’ve ever grown a garden, then you know that the abundance of fresh veggies can be a blessing and a curse! While it’s wonderful to have so much delicious produce available, the vegetables all tend to ripen at the same time. That means that we’re stuck with bushels full of the same tomatoes, the same cucumbers, or the same peaches…and not enough time to enjoy them.

Overhead shot of two white bowls of summer vegetable soup

Sure, canning is a good option. But most summer days, I’d much rather just dump all of our favorite summer produce into a Dutch oven on my stovetop (or even throw it into my Instant Pot or Crock Pot), set the timer, and open the lid to reveal a flavorful, nourishing vegetable soup that I can enjoy now or stash in the freezer for the cooler weather months. That’s how I choose to “preserve” my summer bounty, and I think you’re going to appreciate this easy idea, too!

Horizontal side shot of two bowls of summer vegetable soup on a wooden table

What is the secret to making good soup?

The secret to a good soup recipe is layering a variety of fresh, flavorful ingredients in the pot. You want different textures, plenty of seasoning, and an acidic note to brighten up the dish.

It helps to chop all of the veggies into uniform bite-size pieces, so that they cook evenly and so that the soup is easy to eat with a spoon. Use homemade or high-quality stock or broth, as well as the freshest or highest-quality produce that you can get your hands on. When the ingredients are simple, like they are in this garden vegetable soup, you want each item to contribute maximum flavor.

Finally, make a big batch! This soup freezes particularly well, since there aren’t any noodles to get mushy. You’ll have a large pot of soup that you can stash in airtight containers in your freezer to enjoy in the months ahead — especially as the temperatures drop and the crisp fall weather sets in.

Shucking fresh corn on the cob

Ingredients

This is just a quick overview of the ingredients that we put in our garden vegetable soup. As always, specific measurements and step-by-step cooking instructions are included in the printable recipe box at the bottom of the post.

  • Olive oil: to sauté the vegetables.
  • Onion and garlic: add savory flavor to the dish.
  • Corn: use fresh corn cut off the cob, or substitute with frozen corn kernels.
  • Tomatoes: peeled, seeded, and chopped fresh tomatoes are great in the summer, but a big can of diced tomatoes works well, too!
  • Sweet bell pepper: any color is fine — green bell pepper, red bell pepper, etc.
  • Zucchini: a classic summer veggie, zucchini is always abundant at this time of year! Use yellow summer squash as an equal substitute.
  • Lima beans: fresh or frozen are fine. If you don’t care for lima beans, just add some extra corn in their place. You can also sub with frozen peas or a can of drained, rinsed beans (such as pinto beans, kidney beans, or cannellini beans).
  • Mushrooms and eggplant: hearty vegetables that bulk up the soup and give it a satisfying, “meaty” texture. If you don’t want to use one of these ingredients, you can substitute with meat (such as ground beef or cooked, shredded chicken), or add some cooked rice or noodles to the soup at the end.
  • Broth: I use a low-sodium vegetable broth or stock so that I can control the seasoning in the pot. Chicken broth or chicken stock is also a good option if you’re not trying to keep the meal vegetarian.
  • Vinegar: apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar are typically my top choices, but white vinegar or balsamic vinegar will both work, too. The vinegar adds an acidic note that brightens up the soup.
  • Sugar: to balance the acidity from the tomatoes and give the soup more depth of flavor.
  • Italian seasoning: a convenient blend of herbs and spices that typically includes marjoram, basil, rosemary, thyme, oregano and other herbs.
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper: to enhance the other flavors in the soup.
Pouring vegetable broth into a Dutch oven

What can I add to vegetable soup to make it taste better?

No boring vegetable soup here! This recipe gets its flavor from the herbs and spices in the Italian seasoning, as well as the garlic. Feel free to get creative and spice it up with cayenne or crushed red pepper flakes, or use fresh herbs like parsley, thyme, rosemary, oregano, chives, or basil. A sprinkling of Parmesan cheese and freshly-ground black pepper at the end are also delicious!

Adding fresh vegetables to a blue Dutch oven

How to Make Vegetable Soup

When you’re faced with baskets full of fresh summer vegetables that you don’t want to spoil, when you need a quick freezer-friendly meal that you can grab on busy nights, or when you just want to nourish your body with a healthy, low-calorie vegetarian dinner, this Summer Vegetable Soup comes to the rescue! I’ll show you the stovetop method here, but I’ve also included instructions for the slow cooker and Instant Pot below.

  1. Saute onions and garlic in olive oil in a big Dutch oven or other large pot.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients.
  3. Bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover the pot, and gently simmer for 1 hour, or until the vegetables are tender.
  4. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper, if necessary.
Close up side shot of a bowl of summer vegetable soup

What to Serve with Vegetable Soup

There’s no more classic combination than grilled cheese and a bowl of soup! It’s a simple, hearty, and satisfying lunch or dinner that appeals to both kids and adults. I like to make a loaf crusty bread or purchase sourdough, which is ideal for thick, toasty, grilled cheese sandwiches.

Serve a bowl of the warm soup with any of these other easy sides, too:

Overhead shot of hands eating a bowl of homemade vegetable soup with a spoon and herbs on top

Storage

A pot of veggie soup is a healthy lunch or dinner to prepare in advance and then stash in your fridge or freezer for busy days. Leftover soup will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days

Horizontal overhead shot of a bowl of summer vegetable soup on a wooden table

Can you freeze vegetable soup?

Yes! This soup freezes beautifully because there aren’t any noodles, rice, or potatoes to get mushy when thawed. Just let the soup cool completely, package in freezer safe containers, and store for up to 3 months.

Two bowls of garden vegetable soup with herbs on top

How to Reheat

If frozen, thaw the soup in the refrigerator overnight. Reheat individual portions of leftover soup in the microwave for 1-2 minutes. To reheat larger quantities of soup, place in a saucepan on the stovetop, cover, and warm over low heat just until the soup reaches the desired temperature.

Hands holding a bowl of garden vegetable soup with biscuits on the side

Recipe Variations

  • You can add just about any vegetables that you like to this soup. For instance, add peeled, diced carrots or peeled, diced potatoes. Celery and green beans are also popular additions to a summer vegetable soup, or try chopped broccoli or cauliflower florets.
  • Season the pot with fresh herbs when they’re available, or with a couple of bay leaves.
  • Replace the eggplant and/or mushrooms with other hearty options that will bulk up the pot. For instance, try adding meat like ground beef, ground turkey, sausage, or cooked, chopped chicken. You might also like to add cooked rice or cooked pasta to the pot.
  • Instead of lima beans, use extra corn or frozen peas. You might also like to substitute a can of drained, rinsed white beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, black beans, or pinto beans for the lima beans.
  • Add chopped kale to the soup, or stir in some fresh spinach towards the end. The spinach will wilt almost as soon as it hits the hot broth, so add it when the soup is done.
Square side shot of two bowls of homemade vegetable soup on a dinner table

Tips for the Best Vegetable Soup Recipe

  • A big can of diced tomatoes in their juices is a tasty, easy shortcut if you don’t want to peel, seed, and chop fresh tomatoes. You can also use a can of whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes, breaking up the larger chunks of tomatoes with a wooden spoon in the pot.
  • Any type of vinegar will work. I typically reach for apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar, but white distilled vinegar, sherry vinegar, champagne vinegar, and balsamic vinegar are all good options as well. Lemon juice is another great way to add a bright, acidic note to the soup instead of the vinegar.
  • If you’ve got them, fresh herbs are a great way to add even more flavor to the soup. Use them as a garnish, or swap them in for the dried Italian seasoning. We love basil, parsley, thyme, oregano, chives, and rosemary here.
  • Garnish each individual bowl with freshly-grated Parmesan cheese and freshly-ground black pepper.
Close overhead image of summer vegetable soup in a white bowl

More Popular Soup Recipes to Try

Close square overhead image of two bowls of summer vegetable soup

Summer Vegetable Soup

5 from 3 votes
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 1 hour
Total: 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 15 cups
Calories 79.2 kcal
A light and healthy summer vegetable soup for the stovetop, Crock Pot, or Instant Pot is the perfect way to take advantage of all of the season's fresh produce!

Ingredients
  

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 3 medium ears fresh corn, kernels removed (or 2 ¼ cups frozen corn)
  • 2 lbs. tomatoes (about 6 medium), peeled, seeded and chopped (or about 28 ounces diced tomatoes, not drained)
  • 1 sweet bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 2 medium zucchini, diced
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen lima beans
  • 8 ounces sliced mushrooms
  • 1 small eggplant, peeled and diced
  • 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar (I like red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar, but balsamic vinegar or white vinegar are also great)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt (plus more, to taste)
  • Ground black pepper, to taste
  • Optional, for serving: chopped fresh herbs; grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions

STOVETOP INSTRUCTIONS:

  • Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic, and sauté (stirring regularly), just until onion is tender (about 5-7 minutes).
  • Add remaining ingredients to the pot; bring to a boil.
  • Cover the pot, reduce the heat, and gently simmer for about 1 hour (or until the vegetables are tender). Stir the pot occasionally as it simmers.
  • Taste the soup and season with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls and serve!

PRESSURE COOKER (INSTANT POT) INSTRUCTIONS:

  • Press “sauté” button on the pressure cooker. Add olive oil to the stainless steel insert. Wait 2 minutes for it to preheat.
  • Add onion and garlic to the oil. Saute, stirring frequently, just until onion is tender (about 5 minutes).
  • Press “off/stop” button.
  • Add remaining ingredients to pot.
  • Place lid on the pressure cooker and make sure the valve is set to “sealing”.
  • Press “soup” setting and timer to 12 minutes.
  • The Pressure cooker will beep and start cooking. It may take about 20 minutes for it to come to pressure before the timer starts.
  • When the cooking is done, allow the pressure to naturally release for about 5 minutes, then quick release any remaining pressure by carefully switching the valve to “venting”.
  • Carefully remove the lid, away from your face, and set aside.
  • Stir the soup. Let cool slightly before serving.
  • Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

SLOW COOKER INSTRUCTIONS:

  • Place all ingredients in a slow cooker. Cover and cook on LOW for 4-6 hours or on HIGH for 2-3 hours. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Notes

  • A big can of diced tomatoes in their juices is a tasty, easy shortcut if you don’t want to peel, seed, and chop fresh tomatoes. You can also use a can of whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes, breaking up the larger chunks of tomatoes with a wooden spoon in the pot.
  • Any type of vinegar will work. I typically reach for apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar, but white distilled vinegar, sherry vinegar, champagne vinegar, and balsamic vinegar are all good options as well. Lemon juice is another great way to add a bright, acidic note to the soup instead of the vinegar.
  • If you’ve got them, fresh herbs are a great way to add even more flavor to the soup. Use them as a garnish, or swap them in for the dried Italian seasoning. We love basil, parsley, thyme, oregano, chives, and rosemary here.
  • Garnish each individual bowl with freshly-grated Parmesan cheese and freshly-ground black pepper.
  • You can add just about any vegetables that you like to this soup. For instance, add peeled, diced carrots or peeled, diced potatoes. Celery and green beans are also popular additions to a summer vegetable soup, or try chopped broccoli or cauliflower florets.
  • Season the pot with fresh herbs when they’re available, or with a couple of bay leaves.
  • Replace the eggplant and/or mushrooms with other hearty options that will bulk up the pot. For instance, try adding meat like ground beef, ground turkey, sausage, or cooked, chopped chicken. You might also like to add cooked rice or cooked pasta to the pot.
  • Instead of lima beans, use extra corn or frozen peas. You might also like to substitute a can of drained, rinsed white beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, black beans, or pinto beans for the lima beans.
  • Add chopped kale to the soup, or stir in some fresh spinach towards the end. The spinach will wilt almost as soon as it hits the hot broth, so add it when the soup is done.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cupCalories: 79.2kcalCarbohydrates: 15.5gProtein: 3.2gFat: 1.3gSaturated Fat: 0.2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.3gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.7gSodium: 221.5mgPotassium: 300.9mgFiber: 4.2gSugar: 6.8g
Keyword: garden vegetable soup, homemade vegetable soup, Instant Pot, Slow Cooker Dinner, Vegetable Soup
Course: Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine: American
Author: Blair Lonergan

This recipe was originally published in June, 2018. The photos were updated in August, 2022.

blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

Read More

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Comments

    1. Hi, Heidi! Thank you so much for your note. I appreciate your support and I’m glad that you enjoy the recipes! 🙂

  1. I am looking forward to more stories from you. Your writing and language is, of course, brilliant and remarkable. I wish you all the best for your endeavors. I have read many other posts likes this but this is something really unique from other posts. I don’t like to make comments on every posts I visit but thought of dropping few words here. Update more information like this and surely you will get more readers and followers.

  2. Love all your family dinner recipes. So fast and easy to prep and prepare. What I wanted to ask was were did you get those beautiful soup bowls I love them, if you don’t mind me asking. Thank you for the pork tenderloin and apple recipe my family loves it.

    1. Thank you, Debbie! I’m so glad that you enjoy the recipes!

      The soup bowls are from World Market a few years ago. I bet they still have them, though!

    1. Hi! Yep — the slow cooker instructions are at the very bottom of the recipe card (below the Instant Pot instructions). Just dump everything into the pot! 🙂

    1. I use regular distilled white vinegar or apple cider vinegar, but balsamic would also work well. Whatever you prefer is fine. Hope you enjoy!

    2. 5 stars
      This soup is absolutely amazing! I subbed yellow crookneck squash for the mushrooms and I used the canned tomatoes instead of fresh. I used white wine vinegar but I think red wine, balsamic, or champagne vinegar would be delicious too. My veggie broth wasn’t low sodium so I let it cook before tasting to see if I needed additional salt. I did end up adding some along with some freshly ground pepper. I highly recommend this soup and will definitely be making it again. I can’t wait to eat the leftovers. Thank you for sharing!

      1. Yay! I’m so glad to hear that you enjoyed it, Audrey! I love the idea of using the yellow squash instead of the mushrooms. So perfect for summer!

  3. Ooh, now HERE we go! Maybe this will get some vegetables into me!! I have made this type of soup in the past but it’s been so Iong I’d forgotten about it as an option. This is a great way to play with seasonings. I taste and see what I think will go with the flavors. I often include Worcestershire and smoked paprika.
    I don’t know how well cold soups ‘fly’ at your house but I often eat my serving cold. It can also work to cook rice or pasta seperately and add them to your portion when you reheat it.
    I hope you can use up your produce without too much loss. Your gorgeous vegetable and fruit recipes tell me you have some really great sources.
    Take good care, as always. Have you, your husband, the children, and whoever else is there, extra hugs and say they’re from me. It would be so nice to meet you all!

    1. Thanks, Marion! Yes, I like a cold soup in the summer…but that would be a big NO from my boys! 🙂 Hope you get to try this one!

  4. Looks great! Thanks for the Instant Pot instructions, it’s just the best for making soups! Wishing you and your family the best, although I don’t know how Keith stands over a hot grille in that Va. heat! I live in Maine and this summer it’s too hot for me. That’s where my air fryer comes in, LOL.

    1. Hah! You’re right — it’s amazing that he doesn’t seem to mind it too much! The shade helps, but still…