How to Use What is in Your Fridge to Create a Healthy, Delicious, and Filling Soup
The purpose of this post is to offer you suggestions about how to cook intuitively. Specifically, in this post, I’ll outline the basics about how to build a filling, delicious, and nutritious soup using whatever you have on hand. Soups are a great way to use up leftovers, almost-spoiled vegetables, and pantry items. What I love even more about making soup is that you can whip up a large batch and eat it all week long (and even freeze some for future meals).
What’s better? You can’t really screw this up! By following the guidelines below, you are bound to wind up with a tasty soup that will please the whole family. If you wind up with a bland soup, just adjust seasonings to taste. For example, add more salt and pepper, bouillon, spices, tomato paste, or citrus, and so forth.
Ingredients To Build Your Soup (Get Creative!):
- Choose your favorite vegetables and chop or dice them up. I always use onions, celery, and carrots. After that, I throw in whatever I feel like or whatever may go bad in the fridge. For example, I like to use peppers, zucchini, mushrooms, squash, and spinach in my soups – but anything works. My only word of advice here is to add the soft vegetables after the harder vegetables. I typically saute the onions, carrots, and celery first, then briefly saute softer vegetables like peppers and zucchini before adding other ingredients.
- Choose a favorite protein. I like to use ground turkey or chicken, but feel free to use ground beef, pulled pork, leftover chopped chicken – or whatever you have on hand! If using ground meat, I like to brown the meat completely then set aside in a separate bowl until ready to use.
- Choose your favorite grains and/or beans. Literally throw in whatever you want. I typically dump a couple of cans of black beans or mixed beans into my soup. I also like to add lentils, farro, quinoa, or rice. Whatever you prefer or have on hand is fine.
- Choose your favorite broth or stock of choice. Depending on your preference, you might add chicken, vegetable, fish, or beef broth as your liquid. This can be premade or made from scratch. Check out my recipe for Bone Broth HERE.
- Flavor up your soup! I like to add salt, pepper, and my favorite spices (oregano, basil, parsley, bay leaves, paprika, chile flakes – whatever). I also like to add a couple cans of tomatoes and tomato paste to add depth to the flavor.
Although I’ve already briefly outlined how to build your soup, I’ll outline everything specifically here.
First, in a very large and deep pot, saute your vegetables of choice in oil over medium heat until beginning to tender, stirring frequently (approximately 7-10 minutes). Remember to add harder vegetables first then softer vegetables later.
While the vegetables are cooking, you can also brown your protein of choice – if it isn’t already cooked. Cook fully, then set aside.
Once the vegetables are ready, it’s time to build your soup. Dump the remainder of your ingredients to the large pot. This includes your cooked protein, grains, beans, broth, spices, and any additional flavors (see ingredient item number 5 for more ideas).
Bring everything to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Allow to simmer until the vegetables are tender (approximately 20-25 minutes). Adjust seasonings to taste. Get creative! Sometimes I even like to add citrus (like lemon or lime), salsa, or hot sauces to my soup to spice it up.
Enjoy!! And don’t doubt yourself. There is no “wrong way” to build this type of soup.
Looking for more healthy soup ideas but prefer to follow a recipe? Check out my recipe for Simple Curry Pumpkin Soup. OR check out “Everything But the Kitchen Sink Soup” for a specific recipe following these guidelines! Even better yet? Snag a copy of The Traveling Cook Abroad COOKBOOK, full of 101 Fresh, Authentic, Local European Recipes