Soup Without Canned Broth
December 26, 2012 11:15 AM   Subscribe

Do you have any recipes for soup that don't require broth or stock?

Almost every recipe I can find for soup calls for canned or boxed stock or broth—chicken stock, beef broth, even "vegetable" broth, whatever that is (it seems oddly non-specific to me). I can't use any of these products because the flavor enhancers that are invariably added (MSG, yeast extract, hydrolyzed soy, etc.) trigger migraines for a susceptible individual. Any broth I cook with has to be homemade. No "Better Than Bouillon" or bouillon cubes, no canned or boxed soup. It doesn't matter if they are labeled all-natural or organic: I don't want it if it contains yeast extract.

Making my own stock or broth is a problem because the grocery stores no longer carry cheap bones. Getting to a real butcher or ethnic grocery that carries cheap bones is a big project and not an option right now. Things like turkey necks cost considerably more per pound at our grocery stores than whole chicken thighs do. I'm not going to pay more for the cheap cuts than I do for chicken thighs, that's dumb. However, when I have chicken thighs I make chicken soup. That leaves me with no broth left over to put into other soup recipes. How can I make meatball soup, roasted pumpkin soup, broccoli soup? All of the recipes I can find for soups like that call for canned or boxed broth. Do you have a really good recipe for vegetable broth, or a good recipe for a soup that doesn't require broth? I'm interested in both meat-based and vegetarian recipes.
posted by Ery to Food & Drink (34 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
I know I am not answering your question, but not all vegetable stock has MSG in it; the one I used for years was just dehydrated vegetables- it came in sort of a loose form resembling loose tea rather than a cube and had no added flavour. Unfortunately, I can't remember the name but I am certain you can get some kind of stock that doesn't have the artificial flavourings your are trying to avoid.
posted by Enchanting Grasshopper at 11:21 AM on December 26, 2012

Best answer: 7 broth-less soup tips. The example looks fairly tasty.
posted by xingcat at 11:21 AM on December 26, 2012

The recipe for vegetable broth in How to Cook Everything is pretty good. It's hard to go wrong; just simmer a bunch of chopped aromatic vegetables (carrot, celery, onion) and a bay leaf for a while, then strain and press down on the veggies in the strainer to get the last bits of juice out. This will probably produce a better result than most commercial chicken stocks. If you want a richer stock, brown the vegetables first. I use scraps from the above vegetables, but I've been told whole vegetables gets a better result.

Making your own vegetable stock is super-easy. I also regularly make chicken stock with bones from a whole roasting chicken, with the chicken roasted either by me or by the deli before I get it. A whole rotisserie chicken is a cheap way to get a couple of meals already made, plus bones for stock.
posted by grouse at 11:23 AM on December 26, 2012 [5 favorites]

Tomato-cognac soup -- this appears to be the recipe I have used before.

Beans may also be a good way to go. I make a black bean stew (chop and saute onion and clove of garlic; up to three slices of chopped bacon can be added but the bacon is optional; if not using bacon, use olive oil or butter instead. Add two cans of black beans and one container of salsa. If desired, add chili powder to taste, but it's also not necessary. Simmer for at least 2 hours).
posted by pie ninja at 11:27 AM on December 26, 2012

If you're avoiding all soy, this won't help, but you might have luck with a basic miso soup. Water, tofu cubes, soy sauce, maybe some dried onion powder and carrotts, bean threads. Boil a little. Turn off heat, add miso, add some fresh greens, enjoy. Many recipes out there, but precise measurement isn't necessary and you can vary the ingredients.
posted by amtho at 11:28 AM on December 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

Smitten Kitchen's chicken noodle soup from scratch, make your own broth.
posted by cameradv at 11:32 AM on December 26, 2012

Seconding looking at bean soups. The black bean and Egyptian red lentil soups I make are both really good without stock, thanks to all the seasonings, and I also make a vegetarian chili (similar to this one) that's good with water, rather than stock.
posted by EvaDestruction at 11:35 AM on December 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

You can make a lot of soups if you use water in place of stock. I used to do that a lot before packet stock became common. Things like pumpkin soups etc work fine like that, just a a bit more in the way of seasonings. I use the water the pumpkin was cooked in.

Oh and you can make stock from the remains of your dinners so you don't have to buy any extra bones. I often make stock or soup from the remains of a roast chicken we've had for dinner. Pull any extra meat off the bones throw in a few veg and cook them in the stock and bam instant chicken veg soup.
posted by wwax at 11:38 AM on December 26, 2012

Best answer: You can always use vegetable broth. Saute vegetables in olive oil (in a big pot) — the basics are onions (or shallots), leeks, carrots (or just their peels), celery (no leaves), tomatoes, mushrooms, and garlic (doesn't need to be chopped or carefully peeled). You'll also want some spice— I use thyme, bay leaves, parsely, salt (not too much), and peppercorns. Those are the basics, but you can also add squash, fennel, eggplant, bell peppers, walnuts, etc. (but never use broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, or cabbage). You can add acidity with soy sauce or white wine. Then add at least 6 cups of water and let it simmer for 30-60 mins. (Unlike meat, vegetables will stop adding any more flavor after an hour). Drain the liquid and keep refrigerated for no more than 3 days. To keep it longer, turn the stock into ice cubes (which you can then keep frozen in a plastic jar or bag).

Also, if you make a complex vegetable soup with stuff like onions, carrots, celery, mushrooms, thyme, and garlic, guess what you're already using? The ingredients for stock! So you don't need to add stock to this — you can use water, which will become stock by absorbing the soup ingredients. (That's what vegetable stock is: water that's absorbed vegetables.)

Any soup in Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone or Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian would fit your description.
posted by John Cohen at 11:40 AM on December 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

This classic recipe for vichyssoise is basically potatoes, leeks, and water. It's thickened with cream, but my mom always makes her version just using a roux to thicken the soup. She sometimes throws some peas in it, too. It's really, really good!
posted by Room 641-A at 11:41 AM on December 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

One other tip: The holidays are great for asking people who have turkey or whatever with bones for large crowds for their leftover bones. My family only likes white meat, but we tend to roast whole turkeys, so my uncle gathers the carcasses and dark meat up in a special trip on Thanksgiving night and makes a ton of broth out of that.
posted by xingcat at 11:41 AM on December 26, 2012

I frequently make both tomato soup and lentil soup using no broth and both taste delicious.
posted by saraindc at 11:44 AM on December 26, 2012

If you're willing to make your own stock, and if you're also willing to go through the mishegas to roast a whole chicken, you get at least three meals out of the thing: the roast chicken, then leftover chicken meat in something like casserole or chicken salad sandwiches, then boil the carcass for soup stock. Usually you can use chicken stock in any recipe that calls for "vegetable" stock too.

Stock also freezes really well, so if you get a big stock pot and make turkey stock after Thanksgiving and Christmas, you can reap the benefits for months. If you don't make a turkey, ask your friends... I've discovered that some people throw the carcass out (quelle horreur!) and are happy to keep theirs in the freezer for you to pick up at your convenience, esp. if you give them a quart of the stock in exchange. :)

Other than that, I find that for vegetable-bean or vegetable-beef soup, you can skip the stock and add a can of tomatoes instead. (Add tomatoes at the end if you're cooking the beans from dry or else the acid will keep the beans from softening.)
posted by BrashTech at 11:44 AM on December 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

You can make a really easy potato/root veggie/cauliflower soup by boiling potatoes in milk and/or beer (a nice dark one works very well). Maybe a little water, too.

Boil the potatoes (peeled or unpeeled, chopped roughly or whole) until they're reasonably soft, then add some more stuff like mirepoix (carrots/onions/celery), leftover sweet potatoes, raw cauliflower, apples, whatever. Keep boiling until everything is nice and soft, then put a stick blender in or transfer it to a blender to puree it. You can add pretty much any seasoning you like; same with liquids. You can also keep it as a thick "concentrate" and freeze it flat in freezer bags to pull out any old time and thin out/season differently based on your mood.
posted by Madamina at 11:50 AM on December 26, 2012

Michael Ruhlman's Butternut Squash Soup is made with leeks, butter, squash, thyme and half-and-half.
It was a big hit last night!
posted by Marky at 11:53 AM on December 26, 2012

Buy whole frozen chickens when they are on sale. I get them at ~60-88 cents a lb.

Toss them in the pressure cooker and you have better and usually cheaper stock than what you can buy. Or just use the whole chicken when you make soup.
posted by wongcorgi at 11:57 AM on December 26, 2012

Just use water and add a little extra salt. Any soup recipe will work fine that way. Sometimes I add a tablespoon or so of nutritional yeast, which you can buy at any health food store.
posted by something something at 11:58 AM on December 26, 2012 [3 favorites]

This lentil-chard soup is delicious and uses water instead of stock.
posted by apparently at 12:01 PM on December 26, 2012

Best answer: I make vegetable puree soups without broth - using a heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid, start with garlic, shallots, onions and/or herbs cooked in butter (well, really I use Earth Balance Buttery Spread TM and olive oil, but you'll probably want butter). Cook as appropriate - either start the onions very early and cook until carmelized or just cook until translucent and add the other things. Then add your vegetables and a little water. Cook vegetables until soft. Puree soup in blender or with immersion blender, adding milk (or almond milk), additional butter or additional oil to get to the desired consistency. Add spices, salt and pepper, pesto, sriracha, mole or other non-bouillion flavored things (in general you can get jarred pesto, mole and so on that don't have MSG).

During the cooking process you can also add white or red wine, sherry or beer.

Sesame oil also finishes a soup well.

You can make a quick para-stock by sauteeing some portobello or crimini mushrooms.

The various moles also help make a basic broth - right now I am a big fan of mole verde. You can stir in a spoonful at the beginning. (Obviously, make sure that the soup is the kind that will work well with a mole flavor - jarred green mole generally has a very mild kick.)

When you are sauteeing your onions, you can add tomato paste (the good kind in the tube) and stir it in the oil so that it coats the onions and starts to darken. Do this when the onions are almost completely cooked, turn the heat to med/lo and make sure that there is liquid/oil in the pan when you do this so that it does not burn.
posted by Frowner at 12:03 PM on December 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

You can make any soup that has a lot of ingredients without using broth. I have. The soup will not taste as rich. A soup that depends on the broth for flavor, like onion soup, will not work, but one with many flavors will. You will probably need to add more salt to taste.

I make chicken stock from the bones and skin of rotisserie chicken. Put the leftover bones of one or two chickens in a slow cooker, cover with water, and cook on low for 8-12 hours. You can also make on the stove. Just cook on low for 4 hours or so.

A good recipe that uses three ingredients is: meaty hambone, 1 lb soaked beans (kidney, great northern, pinto, whatever you like), water. Put the hambone and water in a pot, cover with water (water should cover all ingredients by about 3 inches) and simmer until the beans are soft (time depends on the kind of beans). You can make this in a slow cooker. Just cook for 6 - 9 hours on low.

You can also just buy chicken, beef, veggie bullion. I get a huge jar of chicken bullion at Costco. It is fine and works well.
posted by fifilaru at 12:39 PM on December 26, 2012

Any kind of root vegetable soup will work fine without stock.

Basic recipe: Boil veg of choice in water until mushy. Insert stick blender and blend until souplike. Add seasonings to taste (by which I mean: taste it!). Add butter and cream if not dieting.

Extra specially good variations on this theme:
- Spicy parsnip (add toasted and smashed spices at the beginning)
- Sweet potato, apple and coconut milk (substitute a tin of coconut milk for the equivalent volume of water)
posted by emilyw at 12:49 PM on December 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

Maybe I'm being daft, but do you ever cook meat when you aren't making soup? You can save the bones from non soup meat dishes you've prepared and simmer or roast then simmer them to make a pretty good bone broth. If you usually buy boneless cuts of meat for cooking, it's usually cheaper to get bone-in and you'll have the bones for later.
posted by telegraph at 1:20 PM on December 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

I hardly ever make soup with stock or broth, and it always tastes fine. Sauteeing the aromatics and giving everything a good long simmer seems to do the trick.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 1:25 PM on December 26, 2012

Best answer: Mushroom stock is super easy and full of umami-goodness!
posted by grateful at 1:38 PM on December 26, 2012

Water and salt. Seriously.
posted by bensherman at 1:45 PM on December 26, 2012 [3 favorites]

Gordon Ramsay's broccoli soup is delicious and doesn't require any stock.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 1:52 PM on December 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

Sopa Alentejana: Tear up some bread and toss into soup bowl; chuck in a ridiculous amount of thinly sliced garlic; put in a healthy handful of chopped cilantro too; drizzle the whole works with lots of good extra virgin olive oil and set the bowl aside. Now... take some salted water up to a simmer and poach an egg in there (4 minutes just below the simmer). Take the poached egg out and put it in your bowl with the other stuff. Now fill the bowl up with hot egg-poaching water. Wait a 60 seconds for the flavors to start infusing, break the egg and have at it.

If you want to make your own vegetable broth, get yourself a pressure-cooker. Put in plenty of the following thinly sliced items (in order of size you should put in): onion, carrot, celery, leek, button mushrooms, fresh tomato, & fennel, plus some bay leaves, a few sprigs of parsley and thyme, and a pepper corn or two. Cook at high pressure 30 minutes and strain, discarding vegetables. Because vegetables don't have nearly as much flavor as meat insofar as stock-making is concerned, you have to use a lot. The amount of water you put into the pressure cooker should just barely cover the vegetables. On the bright side, vegetables contain tons of water and so you get back more liquid than you put in.
posted by slkinsey at 1:58 PM on December 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

nthing bean soups. I never use stock in my bean soups, and they taste wonderful. I also agree that any flavorful soup will stand on its own without added, store-bought broth so long as it's cooked correctly. Most soups will make their own tasty broth when cook correctly.
posted by patheral at 2:18 PM on December 26, 2012

My go-to cookbook for soups is Twelve Months of Monastery Soups, many of which do not require broth, though an excellent vegetable broth recipe can be found in the back. As a bonus, the book is arranged by months and tends to favor ingredients that are seasonal for that month. The recipes originated in a monastery kitchen, so very few of the recipes require meat (if that's a concern).
posted by jquinby at 5:22 PM on December 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

Chickpea and farro soup (has more flavor that it might look from the ingredients list).
posted by Su at 5:39 PM on December 26, 2012

Whenever you're making chicken soup or anything else that requires onion, carrot, celery or mushrooms, put all of the ends and bits that you aren't using in the soup or whatever into a freezer bag and freeze them. When you get enough ends and bits saved up, thaw them and throw them in some water to simmer for an hour or so, strain out the solids and boom vegetable stock. Then you can freeze the vegetable stock for future soup use.
posted by zorrine at 6:58 PM on December 26, 2012

You can also save your meat bones over time--next time you buy chicken, buy it on the bone (it's cheaper, too) and save the bones in a zipper bag in the freezer. After a few chicken dinners, you'll have enough for stock.
posted by elizeh at 7:31 PM on December 26, 2012

Moosewood lentil soup
posted by Orinda at 8:07 PM on December 26, 2012

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