The temperature is dropping, the leaves are changing colors and it’s finally sweater weather. All this means one thing: It’s soup season (and we couldn’t be more excited)!
Soup is great for lots of reasons: It’s versatile, easy to eat, comforting and completely customizable. Making soup from scratch can seem daunting, but we have a few tricks up our sweater sleeves to make the process a little easier so you can enjoy soup all season long.
Tip: Cleanup is soup-er easy with the Quicker Picker Upper at your side. Keep a roll of Bounty Paper Towels on the counter to wipe up soup dribbles, cooking splatters and mealtime messes large and small.
1. Frozen Is Your Friend
When it comes to making your own soup, opt for frozen vegetables rather than fresh. Frozen veggies are perfect for soups because they last much longer than fresh ones, so you don’t have to worry about throwing away the veggies you don’t use. You also don’t have to chop, slice or dice frozen veggies. Talk about a timesaver!
Frozen veggies also typically cost much less than fresh veggies — and did we mention they help you cut down on food waste? Just make sure the ones you get aren’t pre-seasoned or sauced, as that could affect your soup’s flavor.
2. Turn Canned Soup into a Culinary Masterpiece
Canned soup gets a bad rep, but it’s affordable and easy to make — two things we love. So, don’t write it off completely. Instead, add additional ingredients to canned soup to make it a heartier meal with robust flavors you love. Here are a few ideas:
- Cooked beans (white, black, kidney)
- Cooked, chopped chicken or bacon
- Cooked brown rice, barley or quinoa
- Cooked potatoes (mashed, baked, diced)
And don’t be afraid to spice things up. Extra oregano, thyme, basil and pepper can make a chicken noodle soup sing. Try putting pesto in a vegetable soup or mixing a little curry paste with tomato soup for an unexpected twist on a classic taste. Acidity, like a tablespoon of lemon juice or a dash of vinegar, can enhance the flavor of a canned soup, too.
3. Soup in an Instant
You might think homemade soup has to simmer on the stove for hours, but that’s not necessarily the case! If you have a pressure cooker, you can make chicken stock or bone broth in minutes. For stock, use the bony parts of the chicken. (Pro tip: Chicken stock tends to have a richer flavor because of the gelatin released as the bones simmer.) For broth, use more meat.
Let your leftover chicken bones or meat stew for a few minutes, and voila, you’ve got a tasty base to which you can add all kinds of delicious ingredients.
Pressure cookers aren’t just great for making stocks and broths — they’re a fast and easy way to make any kind of soup you could imagine, from broccoli cheddar to black bean — no stirring, simmering or standing over the stove required.
Tip: Many pressure cookers have dishwasher-safe inner pots, but don’t forget to hand-wash the lid! Use Dawn Platinum Dish Soap to scrub the inside and outside of the lid. Make sure to remove and wash the sealing ring to prevent mold. Rinse thoroughly and let it drip-dry.
4. Easy Freeze-y
Another great thing about soup? You can make a huge batch and freeze what you don’t eat. This will save you some extra time later, which we know your future self will appreciate.
One of our favorite hacks is putting leftover soup in a muffin pan. Let the soup freeze completely, pop out the frozen soup and then transfer it to a baggie or plastic container for easy portioning.
You can also freeze single servings of soup in small airtight plastic containers. Similar to the muffin pan method, once the soup is completely frozen, remove it from the cup or jar and store in a plastic bag or container until you’re ready to thaw and eat.
One watch-out if you’re making soup with pasta in it: Freeze only the soup base. Pasta will get mushy when it’s cooked, frozen and reheated (yuck).
5. Throw in the Kitchen Sink (or Just Your Leftovers)
Ever look in your fridge and see only leftovers? Time to make soup! Start by pulling out everything you need to use up in the fridge — leftover pasta, meats, cooked beans or cooked veggies. After you take stock, look for anything else that needs to be used up soon, like raw veggies, milk or sour cream. Then it’s time to get creative. Use a homemade or store-bought stock (whatever you have will work just fine) and get to work creating a kitchen sink soup.
Leftovers looking a little light? Add rice, barley or noodles from the pantry to beef up your soup. And while you’re in there, check your pantry for stale bread or crackers. These can be toasted and turned into croutons for a tasty garnish.
See? Soup really is soup-er. Have any hacks that we missed? We’d love to hear your favorites. Comment and tell us.