Cooking in the Fast Lane

rita-smallerIf you’re a listener to the SonRise Morning Show, you’ll likely recognize the name of this Soup & Stories contributor, Rita Heikenfeld. Her weekly Bible Foods segments with Matt Swaim always enlighten. She lives “in the sticks” outside of Batavia, Ohio near Cincinnati with her family, where they heat with wood, raise chickens for eggs, and grow their own produce and herbs. Oh, and I shouldn’t bring this up during Lent, but I’m going to … check out Rita’s Cracker Jack Caramel Popcorn recipe. Or there’s her Reese’s Peanut Butter Egg copycat. Or how about a recipe for natural Easter egg dye. Alright, alright. Enough already. Let’s get to the soup! Looking for a quick go-to recipe to clean out the veggie bin before they spoil? Then this one’s for you. Rita shares her recipe for 30-minute spicy vegetable soup.

* * *

Talk about fast, talk about good — I guarantee there will be NO leftovers at your house. With everyone running in all directions for kids’ sports and school activities, this is the perfect meal for gathering around the table. Now if you don’t like it spicy, use regular canned tomatoes. Any stray veggies are great in here, as well. I often clean out my vegetable bin when I make this soup!

And here’s a two-for-one. I’ll give you a recipe for easy cheesy garlic bread that my family loves and goes well with the soup! No real recipe, but here’s how I do it.

Take a loaf of round white or other favorite bread. Make deep cross hatch type slashes almost all the way through the bread. Brush with olive oil.  Sprinkle with a bit of garlic powder and Italian seasonings or just garlic powder alone. Sprinkle with parmesan and mozzarella, pushing the cheese into the cuts. You can also add olives, chopped green hot peppers, sun-dried tomato bits, etc. Either broil or bake in 375-degree oven until cheese is bubbly and bread is golden.

30-minute spicy vegetable soup

30-Minute Spicy Vegetable Soup (download printable copy here)

Makes  8-10 generous servings

1 generous pound lean ground chuck or round
1 generous cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon garlic
1 jar chunky style pasta sauce, 19-28 oz
2 cans beef broth
Water to taste (start with 1 soup can water)
1 can, 14.5 oz chopped tomatoes and chilies OR 1 can diced tomatoes
1 box, 16 oz, frozen soup vegetables, thawed or equivalent frozen mixed vegetables
Handful of fresh greens – spinach, chard, bok choy, escarole, etc. (optional)
Cheddar for garnish

Sauté meat, onion, and garlic together. Sauté simply means browning the meat with the aromatics. Drain any fat. Add everything else but fresh spinach and cheese. If you have a 30-oz jar of pasta sauce, add a little more than half before adding the rest (taste and see). Bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer for 15 minutes or so or until veggies are tender.  Toss in greens and cook about a minute, until wilted.

Read more Soup & Stories entries here.

Get Updates

Get the latest posts from The Practicing Catholic, delivered straight to your inbox!


  1. says

    You know – to make this “Friday-in-Lent” worthy, you could sub out the beef for some garbanzo beans…that’d be delicioso. :) I love this series! Maybe when Lent is earlier in the season, we’ll do the 40-days of soup. It’s hard to think about drink soup in 80-degree-weather. I suppose, though, that could be it’s own form of penance. ;-)


Join the conversation!