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