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How to Make Soup in 4 Easy Steps (Really!)

Pot on stove This could be you......r next amazing meal

Are you craving a hearty bowl of meat and vegetables floating in water?  Didn’t think so.

Rather, you crave delicious homemade soup bursting with flavor.  If only Grandma had imparted to you the wisdom she possessed regarding how to make chicken soup … tomato soup … egg drop soup … instant ramen soup (just kidding—but seriously, you do know how to boil water, right?).

No matter which of the above applies, or doesn’t, you wish you knew someone who could make you a big pot of your favorite low-calorie, nutrient-dense, ridiculously satisfying and guilt-free soup.

Starting today, that someone is you.

Below,  our resident culinary expert smallsoprano reveals her secrets to making healthful and crave-worthy soups, using simple ingredients you already have in your refrigerator and pantry, in only four easy steps.

Let’s turn it over to smallsoprano :

Step 1: Start with Your Favorite Aromatic Vegetables

To build the flavor base for your soup, start with aromatics. These vary depending on your preferred cuisine. I usually prefer to start with the classic French combination of diced carrots, celery, and onion. It’s called mirepoix (pronounced “meerr-eh-pWAhh”) and it can be the first step to virtually any recipe you can dream up.

They make look like mere carrots, onion, and celery, but these are actually magical ingredients. Photo: Teresa Carpenter

They make look like mere carrots, onion, and celery, but these are actually magic potion ingredients. Photo: Teresa Carpenter

Aromatics like these release the most flavor when you cook them in a little oil. Don’t be afraid of starting a soup recipe with a tablespoon of olive oil, coconut oil, etcetera. If you’re making a big pot of soup, the added fat from the oil won’t add many calories to each serving, but it will enhance the flavor of every sip. More, your body is better able to absorb all the vitamins inherent to your vegetables when they’re paired with a little bit of oil.

For a four-serving pot of soup, I recommend a 3-quart (3-liter) saucepan or soup pot. This leaves plenty of room for everything to cook, without boiling over.

Start with:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 1 rib celery, diced

Heat the oil in the pan over medium heat, then add the vegetables and let them cook until the onions are translucent and everything has softened a little bit, about 5-10 minutes.

Rah Rah Mirepoix! Photo: Matthew Yglesias

Rah Rah Mirepoix! Photo: Matthew Yglesias

Step 2: Herbs and Spices

If you’re adding any herbs and/or spices to the soup, now’s the time to do it, just when the vegetables have softened and before you add any liquid to the pot. These ingredients will get a chance to warm up in the oil, releasing more flavor than if you added them later. In our current French-themed example, good additions would be a bay leaf or a sprig of thyme, fresh or dried:

  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig thyme

Stir the herbs into the vegetables and let them warm, for about a minute.

Step 3: The Main Ingredients

Now, it’s time to add your main ingredients, whether whole grains, lentils, diced meat, vegetables, or anything you’d like to try . . . put it all into the pot now, and give it a good stir. If you’re using watery vegetables like mushrooms or zucchini, first sauté them for a few minutes, so they’ll give up some of their liquid.

Today, for this article, I’ve decided to go with lentils. I like the red ones best, as they fall apart a little as they cook, thickening the soup.

  • 1 cup red, brown, or green lentils

Measure the main ingredients (just lentils in this case, but you can use chicken, tofu, etc.) into the pot.

Step 4: Liquid Bliss

The last ingredient you need to add is your liquid. This could be as simple as adding water with a bouillon cube, or as fancy as pouring in homemade stock. I often choose a carton of low sodium broth (which I always keep in my pantry for occasions such as this), so I’m always ready to make a healthful soup for dinner.

  • 1 quart (4 cups) low sodium chicken or vegetable broth

Add the broth to the pot and stir to combine all the ingredients. Bring it up to a simmer, then turn the heat down to low, cover the pot, and let it simmer for about 20 minutes. 

Delicious Soup is Served!

We told you it was magic! Photo: Jules @ Flickr

We told you it was magic! Photo: Jules @ Flickr

Wasn’t that easy!?!

If you weren’t before, you’re now ready to make pot after pot of awesome and guilt-free soup tonight, perfect for Fall and Winter.

Better still, if you make this, you’ll also have leftovers you can pack for tomorrow’s or the next day’s lunch.


That’s the process, broken down into easy steps. Now that you’ve got it, let me share with you one of my all-time favorite recipes:

Simple but Sophisticated Lentil Soup

Makes 4 servings.

Ingredients: 

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 1 rib celery, diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig thyme, fresh or dried
  • 1 cup lentils
  • 1 quart low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth

Directions: 

  1. Heat up the oil in the pan over medium heat, then add the onion, carrot, and celery, and let them cook until the onions are translucent and everything has softened a little bit, about 5-10 minutes.

  2. Stir the bay leaf and thyme into the vegetables and let them warm for about a minute.

  3. Add the lentils and broth to the pot. Bring it up to a simmer, then turn the heat down to low, cover the pot, and let it simmer for about 20 minutes, until the lentils are soft and cooked through.

What are your favorite soups? Link your favorite recipes in the comments! I’d love some new ideas, and we all know everyone else would, too. 🙂

And, please, if you found this helpful, share it with your friends!

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About smallsoprano (2 Articles)
Californian. [Food] writer. Singer. Seeker of balance in life and love. Oh, and my favorite hobby is cooking and sharing healthy recipes -- I hope you enjoy what I've posted here!

1 Comment on How to Make Soup in 4 Easy Steps (Really!)

  1. I don’t even like carrots or celery, but I have to try it! Thank you for this. 🙂

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