Never have I felt more seen than when my spouse Grace showed me this video and said “this is you.”
I love soup. I make it all of the time. It’s not just one of my favorite things to eat, it’s one of my favorite things to cook. It lets me clear out the fridge, lets me extend the little bits of this and that into a pot of food. It’s usually a one pot situation and leftovers only get better when they sit in the fridge for a couple of days. Soup freezes well. It defrosts well. It’s there for us. It’s easy going.
Some people say “but soup isn’t a full meal!” To them I say: eat more than one bowl! Also, add garlic bread.
Just like I talked about last week in the formula for a one pot rice meal, soup is more an approach than a recipe. So I thought I’d apply the same format today. Here you go! Two soup formulas/charts — one for brothy soups with lots of stuff in them, another for pureed soups.
First up, the brothy soups with stuff in them. For these, I recommend cutting up some vegetables (can just be onion, can be a lot of other things, see the chart for more details) and sautéing them in a little olive oil in your soup pot until they’re soft. Add seasonings if you want (spices, other aromatics like ginger, flavorful pastes like tomato or miso). Then add liquid (water, broth, canned tomatoes, canned coconut milk, whatever you like) and then add things that can simmer until soft — greens, pasta, beans, meatballs, etc.
Toppings are a fun place to add more flavor and texture, a little freshness, too, maybe even some heat. Herbs, grated cheese, a squeeze of lemon or lime, croutons, hot sauce. You get the idea!
Once you realize so many of your favorite soups are made with the same steps, I hope it’s easy to see how infinite the possibilities are. Soup! It’s amazing!
And next, onto pureed soups. I usually do these with all types of sautéed or roasted vegetables. I find a ratio of about two pounds of vegetables to about 4 -6 cups of liquid to be about right. But remember, it’s soup. It’s flexible. It’s casual. Some notes:
Sauté or roast your vegetables. Season them with lots of flavor, or just leave things simple. Things like squash and sweet potatoes can be roasted whole, then let them cool and just tear off the skins + scoop out the seeds (easier than peeling/seeding ahead of time).
When adding liquid, start with less than you think and add more as needed (way easier to add than take away).
Puree in batches in a blender and don’t fill the blender too much. Start on low before increasing the speed and put a kitchen towel on top of the blender just to be safe.
Or use an immersion blender! One of the most underrated and affordable kitchen appliances in my opinion. No need to work in batches if you use one of those and you can puree directly in your pot! And there’s barely anything to clean up. I also love an immersion blender to puree just *some* of a soup, leaving you with a soup that is full-bodied, but still has some texture. That can be nice!
Have fun with toppings! Especially with pureed soups, having some texture makes things more interesting. Eat it out of a bowl, sure, but also put it in a mug! Enjoy it while working on a puzzle. Give yourself permission to go to bed at 8:30. This is soup life and I am into it.
Also, here is the formula I used in one of my favorite recipes from my first solo cookbook Small Victories — it’s a great way to use up whatever is in your fridge to make just about any type of soup (say chicken with greens + wild rice, or maybe a carrot + white bean soup with orzo…whatever!).
A quick note on stock/broth. Yes I make my own sometimes. But nine times out of ten I use Better Than Bouillon. Either their Roasted Chicken Base or their Seasoned Vegetable Base (I also really like the Vegetarian No Chicken + the Roasted Garlic + the Mushroom). THIS IS NOT SPONSORED!!!! THESE ARE NOT AFFILIATE LINKS.
I just really love the stuff and depend on it and it makes my life in my home kitchen so much easier. Most importantly I think their broths taste delicious, but I also really like that I can add just as much paste as I want and it stores so easily in its jar and it takes up wayyyyyy less space than multiples boxes or cans of broth, plus there’s way less to recycle (good for the environment!).
My online cooking class this Sunday will be a Fajita Party! We will make Key Lime Margaritas, Chicken Fajitas with The Works (including homemade guacamole), and a very simple and delicious Cinnamon + Rum Cake — all info + signup here! Class FAQs are here.
Thanks for being here. Wishing you lots of soup + happiness. xo, Julia
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Saturday night is Soup Night for me and my partner. I use your division of brothy/pureed, but for the latter, my inspiration is the rainbow: green (asparagus, broccoli, greens), orange (sweet potatoes, squash), red (tomato, peppers), white (cauliflower, fennel), etc. To provide a bit of heft and creaminess, I recommend adding in some white beans before pureeing -- maybe half a cup or so.
Thanks for all of the soup inspiration! Many years ago, I had a soup group - 4 of us would each make a big pot of soup and share (everyone got 1 quart of each soup). It was awesome, we had themes each month, so each soup had some similarity but wasn’t the same recipe. So fun. I need to get another soup group going soon! Anyone else in Baltimore?