It took a while for me to realize making homemade soup doesn't require iron chef-like abilities. Unfortunately, now it seems to be taking even longer to convince my parents! Last weekend, my dad called to see what I was up to, and when I told him how excited I was to fix some hearty white bean & greens chicken soup, he swiftly replied by recommending a canned soup that "tastes like the real deal." Perhaps I'll hold onto that recommendation for a rainy day. But not today, dad. Not today...
Whether it's from the grocery store or your favorite corner deli, soups that aren't homemade tend to be short on vegetables, high in sodium, and generally not very filling or satisfying. Homemade soup on the other hand, has the potential to increase your intake of veggies and decrease your intake of sodium -- two factors associated with reduced blood pressure.
Even if you're not overly concerned with the nutritional content of your bowl, there's a solid argument to be made in favor of homemade soup's often superior taste and appeal. Above all, soup made in your kitch is a one-pot meal yielding bountiful heat & eat leftovers, while costing minimal effort on your part.
Homemade Veggie & Bean Soup
^This stuff? Meh.
This post is intended to be your AHA! moment. I'm walking you through the basic steps and skills you'll need in order to make soup at home because I swear to you, it is a simple process that makes life better! Save for the canned soup, every soup you see in this post was made by yours truly using the basic principles I'm sharing with you here.
Hearty White Bean & Green Chicken Soup
Sweet and Spicy Andouille and Black Bean Soup
Five Steps to Homemade Soup
STEP 1: Can you chop and sauté vegetables? I bet you can. Good news, that's really all step 1 entails. It's common to use some combination of carrots, onion, celery, peppers, and garlic as your "base" while other veggies can be added later.
Chop all the veggies you intend to use into similar-sized pieces (about 1/4 inch thick) to ensure they cook evenly. I usually throw in about 3 cups total chopped veggies because veggies are basically my lifeblood.
Drop 1 Tablespoon of cooking oil into a soup pot and set it to medium-high heat on the stove. Toss your base veggies in, and listen to their gentle sizzle for 3-5 minutes; stir occasionally. Add any other veggies you have according to the directions below.
Knowing when to add which veggies can seem a bit tricky, but just think of it this way -- veggies are kind of like people. The harder/tougher ones require a bit more warmth and patience to soften. If you have vegetables to add that are durable (ie potatoes, turnips, cabbage, kale, collard greens, etc) -- you'll want to add them just a few minutes behind your base veggies. With softer and more delicate veggies (ie spinach, bean sprouts), wait until you're nearly done cooking (1-5 minutes before turning off the stove) to add them in.
STEP 2: It's a fluid process. And I mean that literally because you're going to add liquids this step! Once your veggies have sauteed for 3-5 minutes, you'll want to add some type of broth (vegetable, chicken, or beef broth). Smaller amounts of milk, cream, wine, or water may be added too, depending on the recipe. But if you like keeping it simple like me, then just add some type of broth and water 50/50. The average soup recipe takes anywhere from 6-10 cups of fluid.
YOU. GOT. THIS.
STEP 3: Add your herbs and spices. Bring your liquid to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Not sure which seasonings to use? Refer to a recipe for some inspiration.
STEP 4: So your soup is simmering now, right? Right. This is usually a good time to throw in any canned beans, cooked animal protein (I love using leftover chicken), or semi-soft veggies (ie sliced mushrooms). Remember if you're using spinach or any ingredient that wilts quickly, save it until the very end and don't cook for longer than 1-5 minutes.
STEP 5: Ladle your soup into bowls. If you have rice or noodles, drop a single, pre-cooked serve into your bowl. Sprinkle with any last minute seasonings and garnishes. DIG IN!
Q: Are you saying that all prepared soup is no bueno? Aren't there exceptions?
A: There definitely are but it takes some careful scrutinizing. If you're in the DC-Metro Area, I highly recommend you check out Soupergirl.
Q: Can't you cook rice/noodles in the soup?
A: You can, but it's not the fool proof way to do things. You'd have to worry about ratios of liquid to noodles. Also, sometimes noodles can be thirsty, greedy little things that suck up all your soup liquid!
Q: You promised a link to the recipe you used for mushroom soup. Where is it?
A: Right here! https://bitesofwellness.com/best-ever-mushroom-soup/
Q: Do you have the recipes to all the soups shown in this post? They look tasty!
A: I never share a recipe I haven't made at least three times. It's a quality control measure, since I want you to be pleased with everything you make! Some of the recipes are available on my blog and others are still in the works. Stay tuned. And if you have a special request, let me know!
Have more questions? Send them my way and I'll try my best to update the blog with answers.