Chicken, beef, or vegetable bouillon cubes (read the package to determine the amount in proportion to the liquid)
1 - 2 teaspoons dried herbs, such as thyme, basil, oregano, or rosemary
4 cups longer-cooking vegetables, such as chopped broccoli, chopped cauliflower, celery, diced squash or pumpkin, diced potatoes, canned chopped or crushed tomatoes
4 cups shorter-cooking vegetables, such as corn kernals, chopped zucchini, chopped fresh tomatoes, rinsed and drained canned beans, cooked rice, barley, or orzo, chopped fresh herbs, any leftover cooked vegetables
Kosher or coarse salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Grated or crumbled cheese, such as cheddar, Parmesan, Provolone, Romano, or feta (optional), to taste
Bring 3 quarts of water to a simmer in a large soup pot over high heat. Add the bouillon cubes. Reduce the heat to keep the liquid at a simmer and add your choice of the longer-cooking ingredients. Let them simmer away until everything becomes fairly tender, about 30 minutes.
Add your choice of the shorter-cooking ingredients, season with salt and pepper to taste, and let the soup simmer for another 15 to 20 minutes or so. Start tasting the soup toward the end, and when the flavors seem to be blended and the consistency of the ingredients is as you like it, serve it upits soup! Sprinkle some cheese on top, if you like.
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