One base recipe, then you decide what ingredients finish it up!
Soup. This warm bowl of comfort is an essential staple, and you won't believe how easy it is to master the art of making any kind of soup you like.
Hmm, “essential staple.” Is that redundant? Considering you can freeze a batch of soup for an anytime dinner, serve it with bread and salad at a dinner party, or just whip some up after work, I’m sticking with the redundancy.
Start with this simple recipe for your soup base. Then mix and match proteins, fruits and veggies and starches to create your own soup masterpiece.
Meat lover? Veggie lover? Pasta lover? Vegan? This soup has you covered. What ingredients you choose and how long they need to cook or heat through will determine when you add what you like to the base. Below you’ll find all the information you need, as well as even more options to spice things up once you’ve mastered the art of combination.
New to cooking? Try the suggested combinations first!
First, let’s set up your soup base. You’ll need olive oil, garlic, broth, a can of diced tomatoes and some thyme. That’s it. You can use any big, heavy pot you have.
Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in the pot and add your minced garlic. Two cloves, three cloves, even four cloves if you like garlic that much! Let it cook until your kitchen smells awesome, about two or three minutes, stirring so it doesn’t brown.
Now, add 5 cups of broth and a can of diced tomatoes. I prefer using reduced-sodium broth and salt-free tomatoes to make sure my soup doesn’t end up tasting too salty, which can happen easily. Stir in a tablespoon of fresh thyme leaves. Bring the soup to a simmer.
TIP: To free the thyme leaves, run the stem between your thumb and forefinger against the growth direction of the leaves.
Next, we add stuff to the soup base. When you add the ingredients will depend on whether it needs to cook or just needs to heat through.
First we’ll need one or two choices from the protein category – meat and beans. Rinsed beans from a can and cooked meats can be added at any time, so I usually add these right when the soup base comes to a boil.
Try cannellini, butter or garbanzo beans for another form of protein. You can also add cooked and diced ham, rotisserie chicken, Italian sausage with the casings removed (crumbled and browned in olive oil), or sliced sausage links, browned in olive oil.
If you plan on cooking any of your meats, cook them in your pot before starting your soup base. For the soup pictured, I’m choosing white beans and sliced chicken-apple sausage.
You might want to also add some veggies or even fruit, like apples or pears. The vegetables will need to cook, so how long your soup will take to make depends mostly on the veggies.
Butternut squash will take 20 to 30 minutes to cook through. Broccoli and frozen peas or corn will take a bit less, about 10 minutes. You might also try celery or onion (which can also be cooked with the garlic) or chopped carrots.
I love adding a couple diced apples or pears to add sweetness to the savory soup. I’m only adding diced apples to my soup today, so I added that with the beans and cooked sasuage, after my base came to a boil.
Add a starch, such as pasta, rice or potatoes, if you like. This will also need some cook time. Read your package directions to see how many minutes pasta or tortellini will need in the simmering or boiling broth, but it's usually about 10.
Diced potatoes can take about 20 to 30 minutes. Because rice absorbs so much water, I find it easiest to cook this ahead of time. Since I have two proteins already, I’m not adding any starches to my soup this time, but adjust to your liking.
Leafy greens are last. I always add kale or spinach for the extra dose of vitamins. I like these a bit tender, so I add leafy greens in the last 5 to 7 minutes.
When your soup is all done, season with salt and pepper to taste and enjoy! Or freeze. Or serve.
But wait… there’s more! Feel free to experiment with additional spices and herbs, such as sage, oregano and basil. I love to add nutmeg to butternut squash, bean and kale soup.
If you want to add some heat, go for some red pepper, cayenne or some of your favorite hot sauce. And again, if you’re brand new to this cooking thing, consider making some of the suggested combinations before trying something daring.
Here are my favorite combinations:
White beans, sliced sausage (I like chicken apple sausage) and kale Italian sausage, diced potato and spinach Chicken, rice, carrots, and kale or spinach Ham, potatoes and corn (try adding a bit of heavy cream to this one!) Butter beans, ham, apple and spinach Tortellini, chicken and spinach White beans, butter...