An upcoming vegetarian cookbook includes ingenious formulas to help you create your own, customized dishes. Get the 1 recipe that can be used to make thousands of different soups. 

By Sarah DiGregorio
November 25, 2014
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Anna Jones is a British writer and food stylist who has worked with Jamie Oliver and Yotam Ottolenghi. Her first book, A Modern Way to Eat, a gorgeous ode to vegetarian home cooking, will be released in the United States this spring.

The book is filled with dishes you want to make immediately, like a savory pistachio-butternut squash galette or cardamom-lemon cake. But some of the smartest recipes in the book aren't really recipes at all: They're rubrics that you can follow to make your own version of a dish, in almost infinite varieties. 

"If you're anything like me, then sometimes you like the confines of a recipe and sometimes you like to freestyle," writes Jones. "This is a guide for those freer days."

One Soup: 263,000 Variations

1. Create the base
1 onion or leek, finely chopped
2 stalks of celery, trimmed and finely chopped
2 carrots, roughly chopped

Chop up all 3 and sweat in a saucepan over medium heat with a little olive oil until soft and sweet.

2. Choose an herb
A few sprigs thyme
A couple of sprigs rosemary
10 leaves sage
3 bay leaves
A few sprigs oregano
Basil stems 
Cilantro stems

Add 1 herb and sizzle for a couple of minutes to release its flavor.

 3. Choose a spice
Cumin seeds
Cilantro seeds
3 pods cardamom
1⁄2 stick cinnamon
Mustard seeds 
Smoked paprika 
Black pepper
Crushed red pepper flakes

Add 1 tablespoon of 1 spice (or the quantity suggested) and sizzle for a minute or two.

4. Choose 1 main vegetable
Butternut squash
Sweet potato

Add 1 handful per person (per serving) of your main vegetable (peeled and chopped, if needed) and enough hot stock to cover. Simmer for 40 minutes.

5. Choose 1 back-up flavor
Spinach (add at the end)
Fava beans

Add a couple of handfuls of 1 of the above vegetables (chopped, if needed) and simmer for 5 more minutes.

6. Make it more substantial
Quinoa (cooked)
Drained beans (cooked)
Amaranth (cooked) 
Torn-up bread
Small or cut-up pasta (cooked)
Brown rice (cooked)
Broken-up noodles (cooked)

This is optional. If using, add a couple of handfuls of 1 of the options above just before serving. Warm through, and puree in a blender if you like.

7. Finish your soup
Roasted seeds
Toasted nuts
Chopped soft herbs
Herb oil

Top with 1 or 2 of these options and a drizzle of olive oil.

“Reprinted with permission from A Modern Way to Eat: 200+ Satisfying Vegetarian Recipes by Anna Jones, copyright © 2015 Brian Ferry. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Random House LLC.”

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