Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Cook soup!

If you are on a limited grocery budget and look for ideas for a simple, satisfying meal, soup can become you ultimate standby! Soups are filling, nutritious, inexpensive, and relatively easy to make from scratch. So easy, in fact, that I wonder why people eat instant soups at all.

When I was growing up, dinner was often soup served with warm bread on the side. My grandmother was (still is) known for her ability to pull out pretty much anything, and make soup from it - and her soups were always delicious. I used to marvel at how a seemingly random combination of a few stray zucchini, a carrot, an onion and some noodles can be made into a wholesome meal, while frugally using leftovers.

Usually, as a relatively novice cook, I try to stick to recipes, but last week I wanted to make soup and didn't have much to cook from. I had one onion, one carrot, one sweet pepper, one tomato and four potatoes. I took a deep breath and decided to try to do it grandma's way: I took everything I had, chopped, cooked, tasted, and added liberal amounts of salt, spices, and chili sauce. It turned out surprisingly good.

It's a matter of taste, but we prefer rich, thick soups around here. Beans, noodles or potatoes make wonderfully thick soups. Soups can also be mashed and even whipped for extra creamy texture.

If soup isn't a regular part of your menu, give it a try. You could start strictly following recipes, and get more creative as you gain experience.

* Illustration photo: "Tomato Soup" from www.allposters.com

25 comments:

Thia said...

Hmmm,never thought to use chili sauce in a soup...will have to try that!

Samara said...

My favorite soup right now is a modified version of Thai Tom Kha Gai- it can be made with veg stock & tofu rather than chicken stock & chicken, and is wonderfully rich with a lovely balance of sweet, sour, bitter & savory elements. It's also really spicy the way we do it, with a lump of red curry paste and plenty of chiles. This soup cures what ails you!

lizzykristine @ Uplifted Eyes said...

Especially in the winter, I try to cook soup at least twice a week. I rarely have the all the correct ingredients to follow a recipe, so I throw whatever I have in. Sometimes it is funny-looking, but as long as you add enough flavor, it tastes good!

Sammybunny said...

yay for soup!!! I LOVE soup!

His Wife and Their Mommy said...

i make soups and stews around here pretty often. it is cheap..lol. our favorite is potato stew. just the basic ground beef and potatoes..mm yummy..

Lady M said...

Soup - the world's comfort food. Yummm.

Our favorite is a Potato & Leek soup. We will be going to the farmer's market in a week or 2 to buy a 50 lb bag of potatoes and some leeks. Honestly, I am not the one who makes this soup - my beloved husband does. He makes it in huge batches and then freezes it. It freezes beautifully and rewarms greatly. A little cheese on top and yum!

Hmmm - now I have a craving for it and I know there is none in the freezer this time of year. Sigh. I wonder if I can convince him that the baby "needs" Potato & Leek soup this weekend....

Lynn said...

We love soup. They are great.

Kelly said...

Me too we live on soups all winter.

Mrs. Mordecai said...

I love making soup from leftovers, too. It helps me use up things that would otherwise spoil. I made soup almost every week growing up because I loved it so much, and I still love it. It's so warm and comforting, and so fun to make without a recipe, because it nearly always turns out well!

Bethany Hudson said...

We love soup at our house, Anna! It really is amazing how quickly a good, nutritious soup can come together from a few cheap ingredients. Every Sunday, I make a roast (either chicken or beef). The leftover bones make stock, which flavors our soup later in the week.
~Bethany

Elizabeth said...

Your spontanious soup sounds yummy! :) I love soups. They're amazing ... quick, easy, healthy, yummy, comforting ... just about perfect! :) *Hug!*

Susan B said...

Your soup sounds very good!! My husband and I love soups or stew in the fall and winter. I will often use leftovers as the soup comes together. I'm looking forward to the colder weather, so I can make some!!

Laura said...

Here is the recipe I use for Black Bean Soup. Is so easy and taste great.

Super-Easy Black Bean Soup

Ingredients:

60 oz. canned black beans
16 oz. salsa
12 oz. vegetable juice

Directions:

Open cans and jars, pour ingredients into a pot, and heat until hot all the way through, stirring occasionally. Do not rinse the beans.

Can be poured into a crock pot, set on low, and ignored for a few hours.

If you like your soup less chunky, puree the salsa (with some of the beans, to keep the texture the same).

Preparation time: 5 minutes prep time, plus a while to heat

Mary Rose said...

The basis of any delicious soup is a good, long simmered broth. Simmering the bones of a roasted chicken for 12 hrs will yield a broth rich in minerals including calcium. Using this broth to make soup ups the nutritional profile considerably. One of our favorite winter soups uses a quart of homemade chicken broth, a can of full-fat coconut milk, the juice of 2 limes, a good knob of fresh ginger grated, a heaping tsp of celtic sea salt and a splash of green thai curry paste. Heat and serve with a dash of love.

Danielle said...

It's funny you should post this - I've been in the mood for soup for at least a month now! I made some fresh in the crock-pot a couple of weeks ago and it turned out so good! I love this kind of meal especially this time of year!

Gombojav Tribe said...

I usually keep a container in the freezer where I put bits of leftovers. Almost everything gets thrown in there--stock from a boiled chicken, leftover vegetables, rice, bits of meat, etc. When the container is full I make soup with those things. Sometimes it's necessary to add some tomato sauce or broth. Spice it up with your favorite spices and it always turns out good.

As a missionary family, we try not to waste anything around here--even that small bit of corn that doesn't seem worth putting in the fridge.

:-)

MarkyMark said...

Anna,

You just made me think of my mom's home cooked meat & vegetable soup. It's good stuff! Now that fall's almost here, she'll be making it again. Done right, home made soup CAN be a meal-and a rather satisfying one at that...

MarkyMark

Anonymous said...

Soup has got to be one of the best foods ever! And while one certainly can follow a recipe, I have to agree with your experience (I have experienced it myself!) that so often the best soups are the result of cleaning out the refrigerator or freezer, hunting through the vegetable bin for the odd potato or carrot, & just adding spices & other flavorings as the spirit moves you!! Well done, I'm happy you're achieving such success in the kitchen. And I know Mr.T must appreciate your efforts. I should send you a couple soup recipes that I have (again, mostly just "framework" recipes, that could be tinkered with according to the ingredients on hand) that I think you would enjoy. One is vegetarian, & the other could be, although my family likes the addition of the meat...small though it is! I make soup once a week here, & sometimes more than that if my husband or one of our children request a particular favorite. Soup is good, cheap & nourishing...one of the ultimate comfort foods. :o)

Brenda

Candylei said...

Hot or cold soups, yes are great. I made a canteloupe soup with a little lemon mint cream on top and it was a hit here.

ladyakofa said...

Yaaaay for soup! For us here, in most West African countries soup is almost the only veggie(protien) component of our diets 'cos salads are not necessarily part of our meals.

Morag said...

Dear Anna,
Since you are a vegetarian you probably will want to make soups with a vegetable stock. If you save all trimmings off well scrubbed vegetables and freeze them until you have a couple quarts worth, cover them with water and boil until very soft, then strain without pressing on the solids and boil the strained off liquid until it is reduced by half, you have an everyday vegetable stock to be frozen and handy for making soup. A teaspoon of apple cider vinegar can be added to the water when boiling to pull more minerals out of the vegetables. I would urge you while you are pregnant to curb the use of salt and use more herbs and sea vegetables such as dulse and kelp (I don't know how available they are in Israel)to season foods as salt can cause water retention that can result in dangerously high blood pressure.
Also roasting your vegetables or "sweating" them in a little oil or butter will bring out more flavor either in stock making or the final soup vegetables.
Continued prayers for you and baby.

Morag said...

Dear Anna,
Rose Elliot is one of my favorite vegetarian cookbook authors. Here's a lovely soup for the end of summer bounty of produce. Hope you like it.
Pistou

Preparation time 10 minutes, Cooking Time 30 minutes

Ingredients:
Serves 3-4
2 large onions, chopped
150g sugar-snap or mangetout peas
3-4 courgettes, sliced
6 tomatoes, roughly chopped4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 x 400g cans white haricot or cannellini beans
2 teaspoons Marigold bouillon powder or other vegetable stock powder
salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the pistou puree
6 garlic cloves, peeled
2 tomatoes
handful of basil leaves
4 tablespoons olive oil

Put all the vegetables - the onions, sugar-snap peas, courgettes and tomatoes - into a large saucepan with the garlic and the beans, together with their liquid.
Pour in 600ml (1 pint) of water, sprinkle in the bouillon powder, a teaspoonful of salt and a good grinding of black pepper and leave to simmer gently for about 30 minutes, until the vegetables are very tender.

Meanwhile make the pistou paste. Put the cloves of garlic into a food processor and blend to chop, then add the tomatoes and basil and blend again. When they’re chopped, add the oil, and blend again.
Stir the pistou paste into the pan, cook for a couple of minutes more, then serve.
Taken from Rose Elliot’s Vegetarian Low-GI Cookbook, published by BBC Books

Kelly said...

Okay now I'm making soup today and it's all your fault!! ;-) I had been thinking about cooking a soup and your post just sent me over the edge!

Lady Violet said...

The only soup I know how to make is chicken noodle (or turkey noodle). I really need to learn how to make more. I'd love to make a good potatoe soup.

~Just A Girl~ said...

Loved this post! I do a lot of soup making from whatever I can find in leftovers. You can truly get creative and make a super tasty and frugal meal. Thank you for you sharing your soup ideas!!