A table with bowls of food and ginger.

Easy December Dinners for Busy Weeks

These throw-together soups are healthy winners for weeknight meals in between all of the holiday celebrations.

There are two camps of December people: Those who are jazzed about all of the extra get-togethers (typically the extraverts who feel energized by more people-time) and those who are left feeling depleted by the extra commitments, no matter how fun they are.

And then there’s the food piece. The drinks and decadent food either thrill you OR you’re stressed by the lack of weekly routines. If you look at the total number of December meals, there are WAY more meals that are just regular food than there are special occasion foods. If you’re one of the people craving your normal routine, this post is for you.

Here’s how to deal:

Making December Healthy and Delicious

Honestly, December weeknight meals couldn’t be easier. It is winter soup season after all. Lean into your pantry, grab lots of veggies and throw some protein into the mix and you’ve got warm, hearty flavors for dinner – and probably some leftovers for lunch the next day.

Whip up these easy soups for weeknight wins:

Note: If you don’t have the exact ingredients on hand, don’t worry. As Alice Waters writes in The Art of Simple Food, soup is endlessly customizable. Part of the beauty of these recipes is that you can change up the veggies, use what you have on hand, and it will still taste great.

Italian Veggie Soup
This is a pretty quick chop and cook recipe, with dinner on the table in about 45 minutes and just 15 minutes of active cooking time.
Serves 4 to 6

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 medium carrots, chopped
2 celery ribs, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
freshly ground black pepper
3 garlic cloves, grated
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
2 cups white beans, cooked, drained, and rinsed
1 cup chopped green beans (zucchini or yellow squash can be substituted)
2 cups of chopped spinach
4-5 cups vegetable broth (or chicken broth)
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
½ cup chopped fresh parsley
Pinches of red pepper flakes
Grated Parmesan cheese, optional, for serving

In a large pot over medium heat add onion, carrots, celery, salt + pepper. Stir occasionally, for 8 minutes, until the veggies are starting to soften. Add the garlic, tomatoes, beans, green beans, broth, bay leaves, oregano, and thyme. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Season to taste and serve with parsley, red pepper flakes, and parmesan, if using.

Serve with: Caprese salad (tomatoes, mozzarella + fresh basil w/ olive oil, salt + pepper)

Tomato Soup
Again, a quick prep (15 minutes) and dinner is on the table in less than an hour.
Serves 6

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus a bit more at the end
2 medium yellow onions, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
6 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 (28-ounce) cans diced tomatoes (I like fire roasted, Muir Glen)
3 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1â…“ cups full-fat coconut milk (or sub ½ and ½), plus more for drizzling
1 teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
Fresh basil leaves, for garnish

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion, carrots, garlic, and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes, or until softened. Stir in the vinegar, then add the tomatoes, broth, milk, thyme, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the carrots are tender.

Transfer the soup to a blender, or use an immersion blender to puree the soup. Puree until smooth. Season to taste. Ladle into bowls and serve with a drizzle of coconut milk, a drizzle of olive oil, freshly ground black pepper, and fresh basil leaves to make it fancy.

Serve with: Simple avocado toast (GF sourdough, as grainy as possible, mashed avocado, spritz of lemon, salt + pepper)

Carrot Ginger Soup
Another very easy and quick pull-together for a busy weeknight.
Serves 3 to 4

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3 garlic cloves, rough chopped
1 pound carrots, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
3 cups vegetable or chicken broth
freshly ground black pepper
coconut milk as a topper (optional)

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions, salt and pepper and cook until softened, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Add the chopped garlic cloves (they’ll get blended later) and carrots to the pot and cook 8 minutes more, stirring occasionally. Stir in the ginger, apple cider vinegar, and broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

Let cool slightly and transfer to a blender (or puree using an immersion blender). Blend until smooth. If your soup is too thick, add a little water. If you would like your soup a little sweeter, add a touch of maple syrup. Serve with a drizzle of coconut milk, if desired.

Serve with: This soup needs a bigger side for dinner. I made a hearty kale salad with kale leaves, chopped in very small slivers, apple slices, chopped toasted walnuts, quinoa, maple vinaigrette (2 tbsp EVOO, 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar, 1 tsp Dijon mustard, 1 tsp maple syrup). Leftover pulled/diced chicken is also an excellent add to include more protein in the meal.

I hope these simple dinner ideas make December merry and bright.

Enjoy the holidays!