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Lunch Problem Soup


  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • a small onion
  • 2-3 carrots
  • 2-3 stalks of celery
  • 2 large zucchinis
  • fresh garlic, to your taste, I use like 4 cloves because I’m a nut
  • 2 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes, the really big can
  • 1 c chicken broth, pro tip: Look for the little containers in the natural food aisles. They often have certain brands in packs of four 1 c containers. Best invention ever for the single-chef.
  • 1 c water

MATERIALSa big pot


    • Dice the onion, carrots, and celery.
    • Put your pot over low-medium heat (like 3-4 on your oven knob). Put in the olive oil. Swirl it around a little to coat the bottom. Throw in the onion, carrots, and celery. (Also known as a mirepoix. Yeah, you didn’t know you were going to be getting an education up in here, did you?)
    • While those veggies are starting, dice the zucchini, stirring the veggies in the pot around occasionally. I find that the amount of time it takes me to dice the zucchini is perfect for getting the other veggies where they need to be. Once the zucchini is diced, put it in there. Stir everything around. Let it hang out for a few minutes.
    • While the veggies are hanging out, get ready to add the garlic. (Tip for peeling, put the garlic under the flat of your knife and give it a whack with the heel of your palm. Stubborn skin comes right off.) I like to crush mine in my garlic press because I find it faster/easier, but you can mince it or do whatever you want. Stir things around some more, let it sit for another minute.
    • Add your thyme, paprika, salt, and pepper. More stirring, more brief episodes of hanging out. You can also play around with the spices as you get to know your personal cooking tastes better.
    • Add the diced tomatoes, chicken stock, and water. Bring to a boil.
    • Once it’s come to a boil, turn the heat back down to a simmer (which will depend on the size of your pot, your stove’s temperament, etc. Bubbles should still be kind of forming, but only a little bit.) I usually salt and pepper a little again at this point.
    • Cover and let it do its thing for 20 minutes. You can stir occasionally if it makes you feel extra chef-like.
    • Serve yourself a bowl, because you earned it. Put the rest in the fridge. Healthy lunch all week long! No canned soups for us, no sir.


    The original recipe from Joy the Baker gives you a creamy soup, more like cream of tomato. I stopped the recipe halfway when it was at its fresh and chunky stage. It also yields a ton of soup. Laying this out in single-chef quantities with some tweaks. Play around and find out what you like! This pairs amazingly well with grilled cheeses. Adding orzo or wild rice to this would make it dynamite.