Do you love soup? I do. It’s a delicious, simple meal that can be tailored to any season, and contain almost any flavors. There are even chilled soups and dessert soups.
Most often, when people want to make soup, they go look for a recipe. “Do you want chicken noodle…vegetable beef…or clam chowder?” But you don’t really need a recipe to make a great soup. Even less experienced cooks can do this at home; it’s very easy!
So next time you want to make soup, try this method. You’ll be able to use whatever you have on hand (no last-minute trips to the store for one ingredient!) and you just might love the result.
1) Choose a type of fat
Your soup will (probably) need to start with some type of healthy fat, like butter or olive oil. This is to sauté any root vegetables or other initial flavors. Pick whatever you have on hand that will mesh well with your flavors. (I’d choose olive oil if I wanted an “Italian” soup with a tomato base, and butter if I were making a cream soup; otherwise it’s a toss up.)
2) Choose your base
What do you have on hand? Chicken, beef, or fish stock? Tomato purée? Cream or milk? Choose one — or two. Stock mixed with tomato purée is delicious, as is stock with milk. Or even cream with tomato purée! You choose the flavors you want.
3) Choose your meat
If you want meat, that is. Is this a chicken soup? Ground beef (like a chili, or made into meatballs)? Steak? Fish? Choose whatever you like. You’ll probably want this to match your base (beef with fish stock might not be such a great combination), but use what you have. I’ve used chicken stock in place of beef stock with great results, especially if I also added tomato.
4) Choose your veggies
Onion is a pretty standard veggie because it imparts so much flavor. Garlic, carrots, and celery are all fairly common too — though not always used. There are also beans, potatoes, spinach, kale, corn, and so on. Use whatever you have, and whatever you like!
5) Choose your spices
Sea salt and black pepper are your two most basic spices, so you will want to include them (well…at least the salt). Here are a few more popular flavor combinations.
- Celery seed, marjoram, thyme, parsley, and sage go well with chicken.
- Marjoram, rosemary and thyme go well with beef.
- Basil, oregano or fennel can be a nice addition to tomato-based soups.
- Chilis need chili powder and perhaps cumin.
- Cream soups might benefit from a dash or parsley or thyme.
But, that’s just “common” ones – feel free to dream up any combination you like! Taste and adjust as you go, though!
Simple Bites French Lentil Soup
Once you’ve decided on what ingredients to use, making soup is very simple:
- Heat a large soup pot over medium heat
- Sauté your aromatic vegetables (onion, garlic, celery, carrot) in your fat
- Cook your meat if necessary (for example, stew beef)
- Add your base (except milk or cream), veggies, meat, and spices
- Taste and adjust
- Allow to simmer for an hour or two
- Taste and adjust again
- Add any cream or milk just before serving and heat through
That’s it! You can make any soup using the ingredients you have on hand with the flavors you prefer, without any recipe. I almost never use a recipe anymore because this is so much easier, though I do write down what I did if it was good.
You may just end up inventing a brand new soup, and maybe even a new family favorite!
What is your favorite soup that you love to create from scratch?