We made it, folks. The holidays are behind us. It’s time to put the decorations away, declutter the house, deep clean the kitchen. Throw away the stale cookies, clean out the fridge — especially that half-frozen green bean casserole from Thanksgiving shoved back in the corner.

It’s also time to give our bodies a break from all the rich food and beverages we’ve been forcing them to process for weeks. OK, months.

Soup is a wonderful love note to our January bellies. The liquid fills us up with warm, tasty goodness, and lean vegetables are exactly what the doctors have ordered. Over and over and over again.

But this break in the dietary action need not feel like a sacrifice. This soup packs flavor and texture that will feel like decadence. Happy New Year to you and your belly. And may both of you stay toasty warm.

Roasted Vegetable Soup

4 tablespoons olive oil

2 cups chopped leeks, white part only (about 3 medium)

2 tablespoons minced garlic

1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

2 cups carrots, peeled and chopped (about 2 medium)

2 cups diced potatoes

2 cups green beans in ¾-inch pieces

2 quarts roasted vegetable stock

1 quart water

4 cups chopped tomatoes with juice

2 cups corn kernels

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

¼ cup dried parsley

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Once hot, add the leeks, garlic and a pinch of salt and saute until they begin to soften, approximately 7 to 8 minutes.

Add the carrots, potatoes and green beans and continue to cook for 4 to 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the stock and water, increase the heat to high, and bring to a simmer. Once simmering, add the tomatoes, corn kernels and pepper. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the vegetables are fork tender, approximately 25 to 30 minutes.

Remove from heat and add the parsley and remaining salt.

Serve hot

Makes 4 quarts

adapted from Alton Brown, Food Network

Nutrition information per cup: 91 calories, 4.3 g fat, 2.5 g fiber, 1.9 g protein, 12.7 g carbohydrate, 173 mg sodium, 0 cholesterol.

Roasted Vegetable Stock

Makes 2 quarts

1 whole head garlic

4 carrots, cut into chunks

4 stalks celery, cut into chunks

3 onions, cut into chunks

1 green pepper, quartered

1 tomato, quartered

1/3 cup olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

12 cups water

1½ teaspoons dried thyme

1½ teaspoons dried parsley

2 bay leaves

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Cut the top off the head of garlic. Arrange the garlic, carrots, celery, onions, pepper, and tomato on a large baking sheet in a single layer. Drizzle the olive oil over the vegetables; season with salt and pepper.

Roast the vegetables in the preheated oven, turning every 20 minutes, until tender and browned, about 1 hour.

Combine the water, thyme, parsley, and bay leaves in a 4-quart or larger stockpot or saucepan over medium-high heat. Squeeze the head of garlic into the pot and discard the outer husk. Add the carrots, celery, onion, pepper and tomato.

Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low and simmer for 1½ hours; strain and cool.


Nutrition information per cup: 132 calories, 9.3 g fat, 2.7 g fiber, 1.7 g protein, 11.9 g carbohydrate, 101 mg sodium, 0 cholesterol

— Jennie Geisler can be reached at 870-1885 or by email. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/ETNgeisler.