How to Make Your Own Homemade Soup

Sometimes nothing but a big bowl of belly-warming, sinus-clearing, mouth-watering soup will do. But most of the stuff available at the grocery store has too much salt, too much fat, and not enough flavor. So I often make soup from scratch at home – using whatever is in the cupboard. The simple version is this: combine aromatics, water, a protein, a grain, some veggies, and lots of herbs. The following steps – a little more in depth, but still easy – is the process I use to create a great tasting (and often last minute!) soup for supper. This makes about 6 cups of soup.

  1. Start with aromatics (we taste with our nose as well as our mouth!). Finely chop a combination of onion, leek, shallot, garlic, celery, carrot, and/or bell pepper. Example: One medium shallot plus one stalk of celery, plus one clove of garlic.
  2. Sauté the aromatics in 2 Tbsp of olive oil. (I like to use a Dutch oven when making soup.)
  3. Add broth, water, or a combination of water and tomato juice. Example: One cup of liquid per serving, so I will add 6 cups of water.
  4. Add a protein. The protein can be drained canned beans, frozen beans or cooked beef, chicken, or ham. We could also use a quicker cooking legume like lentils or split peas. Example: About 1 ½ cups of frozen lima beans.
  5. Add one or two chopped, long-cooking vegetables like winter squash, carrots, rutabaga, turnip, parsnips, potatoes, sweet potatoes, fennel, cabbage or cauliflower. Example: A large potato, a couple of large carrots, and a fennel bulb.
  6. This is also the time to add a long-cooking grain like rice or pearled barley. Example: Skip this step for this particular soup example.
  7. The secret to a great tasting soup – herbs. This is the time to add a combination of dried herbs. Add ½ to 1 tsp per serving. Herbs enjoyed by most people include basil, oregano, parsley, rosemary, marjoram, thyme, cumin, summer savory or chervil. Example: 2 tsp of dried basil, 2 tsp of dried parsley, 1 tsp dried marjoram, and ½ tsp each dried rosemary and dried thyme.
  8. Bring the whole thing to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until almost tender, usually 20 – 40 minutes.
  9. Add one or two chopped, short-cooking vegetables like zucchini, summer squash, canned or fresh tomatoes, chopped mushrooms, spinach or watercress, or frozen peas, beans or corn. Example: A can of chopped tomatoes, a small zucchini, and a handful of frozen peas.
  10. Add short-cooking grains like pasta or cous cous. Example: Since we didn’t add a long-cooking grain earlier, add a handful of small pasta here.
  11. Add salt and pepper to taste and continue simmering until all the vegetables and grains are tender, probably another 5-10 minutes.
  12. The finishing touch. Add a final taste temper – wine, vinegar, hot sauce, miso or some other condiment that will add zing. Or add a soup topper like chopped peanuts, shredded cheese, sour cream or pesto to each individual bowl of soup. Example: 2 or 3 Tbsp of red wine vinegar before serving and pass shredded Parmesan at the table.
  13. Serve with homemade bread or biscuits or crackers for a simple, budget-friendly, healthy, just-what-I-wanted meal.

by Renee Pottle

Renee Pottle, a freelance writer and Home Economist, is fanatic about all things food. She blogs about canning and food preservation at Find her professional food writing info at

February 20, 2013

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