How to Make Soup From Scratch

This is a guest post from Kate Tietje of Modern Alternative Mama. Welcome, Kate!

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.

Ingredients

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

Method

Once you’ve decided on what ingredients to use, making soup is very simple:

  1. Heat a large soup pot over medium heat
  2. Sauté your aromatic vegetables (onion, garlic, celery, carrot) in your fat
  3. Cook your meat if necessary (for example, stew beef)
  4. Add your base (except milk or cream), veggies, meat, and spices
  5. Taste and adjust
  6. Allow to simmer for an hour or two
  7. Taste and adjust again
  8. 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?

About kate

Kate Tietje is a stay-at-home mom to two little ones: Daniel and Bekah. She spends a lot of time in the kitchen, cooking and creating recipes. Outside the kitchen, she writes at Modern Alternative Mama, where she blogs about parenting, real food, and natural health.

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Comments

  1. I love making homemade soup, and in fact do it all the time. The only thing I never seem to get right is the noodles. If I add them directly to the pot, they soak up all the broth. If I cook them separately and add them later, they still soak up more broth than I’d like. I feel like there’s some magical step I’m missing that my momma never taught me.
    Amber | Bluebonnets & Brownies’s last post: Mini Egg Nests

    • Hi Amber,

      Add your noodles just in the last 5 – 10 minutes of cooking, or whatever the package says the cooking time is. Don’t add too many (or add more liquid to the soup initially to compensate) and it should turn out well!

      • I was very interested until I read the words “Allow to simmer for an hour or two” Too expensive for one, too time consuming as well. I think I will continue to allow others to make the soup for me!

      • please note that this is a good recipe is great i tried it myself last night

    • I have the same problem.
      Only thing that works for me is adding pasta when serving. I never add it to the soup until it is in my bowl. If there are extra soup and noodles…I store them separately.
      jenny g’s last post: A Crooked Stick Easter Eve

    • Hi girls, as a idea for your pasta. You can try what my mum does. You simply cook your pasta in a seperete pot with as much water & or stock as you want, first. Strain, let slightly cool (stops water absorbtion). Then you cook your soup, stew, cassarole or your personal favourite mixture. Place pasta in bowl ad your soup.

  2. Thanks for sharing this. I have definitely been doing some things wrong! I can’t wait to try it out, but it has been 90 degrees here this week, not quite soup weather, lol!
    Bernice
    Living the Balanced Life’s last post: Is it time to sharpen your saw

  3. A universal soup recipe — brilliant! Everyone things you can just toss whatever you have into a pot and call it soup but there is a bit of an art to it isnt there? Thanks for the great tips!
    Nada’s last post: Why There Are Bread Tabs On My Knitting Needles

  4. We make an italian sausage soup that is to DIE for! The original recipe I found on the web (www.ourbestbites.com) but we have tweaked it w/ substitutions of what we normally have around the house. We also ALWAYS due a big pot of turkey noodle soup after Thanksgiving with the Turkey carcass and a big crock of ham and bean soup after Christmas and Easter with the ham bones. Thanks for the guide – it will definitely help in future attempts – I LOVE soup and so does my two year old, which means the more nutrition I can stuff in it the better!
    Kelli’s last post: Life – or at least something like it

  5. I really enjoy making soup from scratch, and I appreciated hearing your tips! Definitely going to use a few of them the next time I whip up a batch. :)
    Alison @ Hospitality Haven’s last post: Community Gardening

  6. This is a great post. I love the freedom of throwing things together to make a delicious and nourishing meal.
    Stacy @ Delighting in the Days’s last post: Handmade Mother’s Day Link-Up May 3rd and a Simple Citrus Bath Salts Recipe

  7. Steph (The Cheapskate Cook) says:

    My favorite soup from scratch? Almost anything with lentils! They’re so filling and warm and delicious in a broth-based soup.
    Love your method for making your own soup. I follow a similar method, but I really like that you included a few great spice combinations! Sometimes it’s difficult to figure out what will taste fabulous and what will taste just so-so.
    Steph (The Cheapskate Cook)’s last post: Our Cheapskate Easter

  8. We have become major soup converts around our house. Making Thai Curry soup tonight. I have a friend that “invented” the most delicious pumkin chicken soup. She called it “What do we do with all this Pumpkin? Soup” and it was awesome – not the typical pumpkin puree. Just a pot of veggies, shredded chicken, chicken stock, and the pureed pumpkin mixed in at the end. Yum!

    That brings up two more base ideas:
    Coconut milk – Turns any soup into creamy goodness!
    Pureed Pumpkin or other Squash
    Alissa’s last post: Wordless Wednesday- Dance Party

  9. M.E. Anders says:

    Thanks, Kate! I needed this reminder that soup is as simple (or complex) as we want to make it. Just following those simple guidelines…wahla! With all this April rain, I’m craving some yummy Cream of Broccoli soup…checking the pantry, now.
    M.E. Anders’s last post: So You Wanna’ Compete Part Two

  10. I just love this post! Too often I am tied down by recipes. I can’t wait to give this a try the next time I make soup!

  11. Great, simple formula. I make loads of soup and almost always use this exact formula. Lately I’ve also been adding some dried mushrooms for extra meaty flavor. Thanks for sharing!
    rivki locker’s last post: Candied Pecans

  12. My method of making soup is pretty different, in part because we’re vegetarian and partly because I use a sort of grandma frugal way. :)

    My husband is my “sous chef” and we cook dinner together on most nights. He puts all of the veggie scraps (tough asparagus stems, mushroom stems, tough broccoli bits, etc.) in a continual gallon size ziplock bag we keep in the freezer. I also toss in wilted herbs and green onions that won’t get used up in time, things like that.

    When I want to make soup, I heat some olive oil and toss in some chopped onion and garlic in a big pot and get it nice and translucent, then put that aside in a dish and get out one of my bags of veggies. I dump them into the pot, add a bunch of water, toss in some herbs and simmer till the veggies have imparted all of their flavor and color into the broth (an hour or so, give or take). I strain out the veggie scraps and put them in the compost bag, then pour the broth back in the pot. I add back the sauteed onions and garlic and then whatever longer-cooking things I want to toss in. Since we’re vegetarians, that’s sometimes lentils (which actually cook fairly quickly) and often wild rice (here in MN you can get the broken “soup rice” inexpensively even though it’s a gourmet treat elsewhere), then after they get a head start I plop in whatever veggies I want.

    If we want a thick stew type of soup, I put in lots of potatoes and mash them somewhat in the pot at the end of cooking. Other common goodies are broccoli heads (near the end so they stay bright and green), carrots, sweet potatoes, corn, green onions, peas, etc., depending on the “personality” of the finished soup that we want and what we have on hand. For clear broths, I add a sprinkle of turmeric sometimes for the pretty yellow color. Sometimes I’ll make it super thick with smashed potatoes and then stir in some almond milk to make it especially creamy. Then I just tinker with sea salt, fresh ground pepper, herbs, etc.

    Made this way, a whole pot of organic, stick to your ribs soup costs a buck or two to feed our hungry family of six. The kids love it too, and it’s kind of fun that it’s never the same soup twice. :)
    Magic and Mayhem’s last post: From capers to pesto to flavored vinegars- Great ways to cook with nasturtiums

  13. I’m not the greatest soup maker, so when I came up with a real doozy of a soup, I was EXTREMELY proud of myself. (When it comes to this soup, humble I am not.) http://bit.ly/jxaYWJ
    Jennifer Jo’s last post: Spray- soup- and everything in between

  14. Soups are one of my favorite things. I love you how you broke it down so that each add-in and each component can be easily swapped out.

  15. I love these “how to” posts – they are so helpful, especially when I have been using a trial and error method :-) I’ll have to refer back to it, especially when the weather cools again :-)
    Michelle (What’s Cooking with Kids)’s last post: The Art of Understanding Meat Labels

  16. Nisha @ Healthy Mom's Kitchen says:
  17. Michael says:

    a little question here:

    is better to put the spices into the soup or after it’s done, i mean when it’s on my plate?
    i am asking because i never know how to estimate what’s right , and i dont like it when it is spiced up to much..

    any tip?

    Michael
    Michael’s last post: ‫בית אבות‬

    • Hi Michael,

      I like to add the spices while it’s cooking so they get well-blended throughout the soup, really give off their flavor. If you don’t like too many spices, add a smaller number or smaller quantity, and taste to see if it’s how you want it. :)
      Kate @ Modern Alternative Mama’s last post: Pregnancy Journal- Kids Are Into It

      • Michael says:

        ok, thanks..

        another question here, to what degree should i bring the vegetables before i add the rest of the soup?
        i mean, how “soft” should they be?
        because many times i continue with the soup too early, and then they are not soft enough..*don’t know if soft is the right term..*
        Michael’s last post: ‫ביטוח נסיעות‬

        • Tender* Lol. Try roasting them in the oven with olive oil and italian herbs. Or, just slightly stam them and throw them in the pot still tender, and they will cook evenly while finishing the soup.

  18. wahab johnson says:

    i like to know how to cook delicious soup

  19. One single most ingredient that has become a staple in our soup making is: vinegar.

    Only a tablespoon or so added during the last few minutes of cooking really heightens the flavor.

    Since we bought my husband’s boss’ business back in February, my ‘extra’ time is at a premium and I need to get things done quick fast and in a hurry. I’m really looking forward to using your basic soup recipe!

  20. How do I make the soup in the picture??!!
    :)

  21. mohammad masi ahmadzai says:

    i need the soup instruction how to make vegitable soup

  22. Thanks for this wonderful introduction to the world of soup making. I am student and often do not have all the ingredients on hand for a specific kind of soup. This is a great way to use what I have, while still making something delicious. Plus, as a person who has never made soup from scratch before, it was incredibly easy to follow and make. I had amazingly delicious results, and look forward to coming back to this process of cooking soup.
    Diana

  23. This is a great how-to. I will definitely use it one day soon :)
    And, by the way, you’re a great writer. Very energetic and interactive.

  24. I love soups…I’m a health freak maybe stems from being a chemist.What I can;t fathom is should soups be heated for an hour.My logic says that all soluble vitamins will be gone by them , in water vapor.What could really be a healthier way…

    I pressure cook my veggies in a way that I don’t let the cooker whistle avoiding steam to escape.I let it whistle .Cool the mix blend and serve.

    Enjoy a healthier version,do leave your comments.

  25. Thanks for a great basic guide to soup making!
    I have my first attempt bubbling away as I write this:
    onion, celery, carrot, garlic, leak, some beans and some bacon!
    Here’s hoping it turns out ok!!

  26. Soup is such a versatile meal and so easy to make as you so rightly say, get the basics right and you cant go wrong.

  27. WITCH ONE COOKS LONGER POTATOES OR BEEF?

  28. I tried my ideal vegetables. It was solid. You should adjust water according to ingredients. Or it’s a mud like soup.
    Murat Yücel’s last post: Biz Olmak

  29. This was the best, most direct set of directions that I’ve read about how to make soup. Unfortunately, my mother passed when I was in the rebellious teenage stage. I’ve regretted not having learned from my mom while she was here, however, taking the step to be in the kitchen and learn things on my own is like paying homage to her. Thanks again for the simple steps!

  30. Man, shut the fuck up.

  31. I LOVE making soups and you really can make anything Into soup
    I love making chicken vegetable
    (Chicken carrots celery potatoes beans corn cabbage and spinach chicken and vegetable stock) the same can go with beef instead I use beef stock and stewed tomatoes
    sometimes skip potatoes and add tortellini or egg noodles …
    Soup is very filling and can often be low fat low cal and great for people losing weight :-)

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