One of my favorite parts of Sundays is trying a new soup recipe. A big pot of warm, filling soup has become a staple during the cold Indiana winter. It’s such an easy meal to divide up and transport to work, plus it can be easily frozen for the future. After making soup over and over again, I began to pick up the patterns in recipes and realized there’s a way to make soup from literally anything – without a recipe.
Ingredient-wise, you probably already have a handful of these items in your pantry, refrigerator or freezer. If not, stock up on some of the nonperishable items if you see them on sale at the store so you can whip up a soup without needing to go to the store.
The basics you’ll need:
- Aromatic vegetables. The classics for soup are onions, carrots, celery, peppers and garlic.
- Other veggies (literally….any! Fresh or canned.)
- Any meat or protein
- Beans (drained and rinsed)
- Quinoa, rice or pasta, if desired
- Broth, stock or water
- Seasonings (dried herbs, salt and pepper)
The “Not-Recipe” Step
Brown your meat.
Cooking the meat first in your big pot or Dutch oven will help coat the bottom of the pan in flavor to build upon with all the other veggies. Once the meat is browned – but not cooked all the way through – remove from the pan. We’ll put it back in later!
Sauté your veggies.
Once you’ve taken the meat out of the pan, it’s time to sauté your aromatic veggies in what the meat left over. Add a drizzle more of olive oil and then add your onions, celery, carrots, peppers, etc. Wait to add the garlic (if you’re using it) until the veggies are soft and almost done cooking. If you add the garlic too soon, it will burn, so it’s best to save it for the last minute or so!
Add everything else.
Once the veggies are soft, add the meat back in, add any drained and rinsed beans, corn, potatoes, canned tomatoes, and at least four cups or either stock, broth or water. If you’re going to add rice, quinoa or pasta, be sure to add at least an extra cup or two of water to compensate for the liquid the grains are going to absorb.
Bring up to a boil.
Bring the pot up to a boil and let it sit for two or three minutes. This will cook the rest of the meat, the beans and other veggies.
Simmer for 20 minutes.
Turn the heat down to low and simmer for at least 20 minutes. You can keep it on low for longer and it will continue to help marry all the flavors of the soup together. With all soup, it only gets better with time! If you’re going to add greens like kale, spinach or rainbow chard, add them at the last five minutes or so, so they will stay fresh, but cook gently.
Done deal. Your soup is ready to eat. Top with some cheese, some fresh cilantro or croutons and enjoy! I hope this easy guide will help you navigate making soup from anything in your fridge or pantry. If you’re looking for soup inspiration, here’s my favorite Cuban garbanzo bean soup, a creamy ginger butternut squash soup, comforting chicken noodle soup, healthy lentil and kale soup or classic chili.
What’s your favorite way to make soup? Any essentials you always have on hand?
Love food. Love self. Love life.