Snowflake Soup
September 23, 2014 9:54 AM   Subscribe

I've recently been on a soup kick. However, my meager store of recipes I'm good at cooking has been exhausted. I'm looking for soups that are relatively easy to prepare, are healthy, and are cheap to make. I'm not really interested in cold soups at the moment. No particular restrictions or considerations beyond that.
posted by codacorolla to Food & Drink (52 answers total) 153 users marked this as a favorite
My favorite easy healthy soup is red pepper lentil soup. Protein. Low cal. Tastes interesting and not like usual salty canned soups. Takes a while to make but that's mostly just simmering and sauteeing. Freezes very well.

6 cups chicken stock [or whatever, soup base, not too salty]
1 onion
1 red pepper
4 carrots

chop veggies & sautee in olive oil & add to hot stock

1 1/2 c red lentils
1/2 c wild rice
[or whatever, 2 cups grains]

add 2 tsp cumin [or to taste] and red pepper flakes. Salt & pepper to taste. Simmer on low heat til lentils are soft, about 90 min. Stir every once in a while.

Delicioso! Also try this for more freestyle soup
posted by jessamyn at 9:57 AM on September 23, 2014 [12 favorites]

This soup is absolutely delicious (I always make a vegan version of it, using Vegeta and soy-based sour cream). Even my finicky nephews like the soup.
posted by alex1965 at 10:01 AM on September 23, 2014

Some of my favorites are quite easy and quick:

* This Sicilian aubergine (eggplant) stew is delicious
* This roasted garlic and potato soup is simple but really lovely when the weather is cold
* This stew with tomatoes, white beans, and zucchini is very easy and surprisingly filling
posted by neushoorn at 10:04 AM on September 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

*pulls up chair and sits down*

first of all, lemme get my usual cookbook recommendation out of the way.

Now -

1. Jessamyn's freestyle soup is basically what I advise for minestrone, and hits your "cheap" box because you can pick any vegetable in season - and in-season vegetables tend to be cheaper.

2. Bean soup typically takes about 2 cans of cooked beans, one onion, a couple carrots and a couple stalks of celery. Chop up the onion, celery and carrots and saute them until they're soft, dump in the cans of beans and a couple cups of broth. I also add sage. Let that simmer until it's warm (20 minutes, usually) and then you can either puree half of it or let it all sit.

3. You can customize the above recipe thusly - add some chopped garlic to the onion/carrot/celery, use all white beans, puree ALL of it and then add some chopped cooked sausage and chopped red and green pepper, and heat through again.

5. Another way to customize it is: use half as much white beans, and add a bunch of cooked chopped kale. Then take about a quarter cup of cornmeal, and slowly stir that in.

6. Make a big pot of tomato soup, then add a can or two of white beans.

That's all I can suggest when not in front of my Vast Array Of Cookbooks, but should hold you for a while.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:07 AM on September 23, 2014 [2 favorites]

Matzo ball soup: buy the mix for the balls, make soup out of celery, onion and carrot + chicken stock + chicken (if you want) + matzo balls.

Also, this pork and poblano stew is amazing.
posted by jeffamaphone at 10:08 AM on September 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oh, wait, I have another cookbook to suggest. Only if you actually do get that one, you can reduce the broth by at least two cups, if not halve it, in all the recipes (the guy's a monk so they're trying to be really austere).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:08 AM on September 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

I just made a bunch of soup using this Bittman template. . Essentially, you sauté onions/shallots and garlic and some chopped root veggies. Add stock and simmer until mushy. Blend w immersion blender. I just did a carrot/ginger one and a parsnip/curry one. Made a whole lot of soup and froze some portions. Hearty, comforting , healthy, and easy!
posted by atomicstone at 10:11 AM on September 23, 2014 [5 favorites]

This lentil soup from Chow is very simple and easy and would freeze well. I have made it several times, and it lends well to changing the spinach for another green, subbing in various veggies, etc.

I have made this recipe for Chicken Tortilla soup many, many times. I have used any number of different dried chiles. Also, instead of the chicken breast, you can use leftover cooked chicken or rotisserie chicken. If you want to make it extra substantial, throw in some cooked black beans and/or corn. This recipe is really fast, easy, and delicious.
posted by TrarNoir at 10:15 AM on September 23, 2014

This is the best soup cookbook:

Twelve Months of Monastery Soups.
posted by amtho at 10:24 AM on September 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

Here is the link I attempted to post from mobile.
It's also in the How to Cook Everything Vegetarian Book [probably the omnivore one too?].
posted by atomicstone at 10:36 AM on September 23, 2014

ZOMG this recipe for quinoa chowder with feta, spinach and scallions. We eat gallons of it all year long. (My family: leave out the egg, cumin.)
posted by BlahLaLa at 10:38 AM on September 23, 2014 [2 favorites]

Carrot Cauliflower Soup:

Sautee 2 large onions in butter until translucent

Add 2lbs cut carrots
Add 2lbs cut cauliflower
Add stock of your choice
Bring to a boil, cook until carrots & cauliflower are soft

Add 1-2 heaping tbsp of good quality curry powder
Add salt & pepper, 1 splash of braggs seasoning

Blend to a consistency of your choice
posted by St. Peepsburg at 10:38 AM on September 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

This Roasted Tomato and Basil Soup is AMAZING. I've made it twice now.... it's so easy to prepare and doesn't require any expensive ingredients.

Each time, I've made a giant batch to ensure I have enough for my lunches during the week.

Both times, my fiancé has eaten FAR more of it than I had expected, and when I told him to go easy on it he said "Stop cooking things that are so delicious then!!"
posted by JenThePro at 10:41 AM on September 23, 2014

Cook's Illustrated has some great soups, and I say that as someone with more than a few reservations about Christopher Kimball's little empire. Their butternut squash soup is a really simple yet genius recipe where you saute seeds and scrapings from your squash with an allium, add water and steam the squash over that mixture. They have a nice cream of tomato too where you roast canned whole tomatoes in a hot oven with a brown sugar sprinkle, then simmer the roasted product in stock and the reserved canning liquid. Easier and quicker than it sounds. It's got good complex flavor but the end result is close enough to campbells/heinz that everybody likes it.
posted by werkzeuger at 10:42 AM on September 23, 2014 [3 favorites]

Pumpkin Miso Soup!

Roast some squash pumpkin sweet potato garlic onion

Stick blend the above with water until thin enough but with some texture left.

Add miso paste to taste. Spice it up with toasted cumin seeds and red pepper and salt. Maybe some fried sage leaves and thyme.

Add some toasted sesame oil, maybe a splash of rice wine vinegar if things are too sweet.

So healthy and yum! I made a big pot of this on sunday for lunch this week and just finished a bowl.
posted by sarahnicolesays at 10:46 AM on September 23, 2014 [2 favorites]

I have done in the past a Moroccan-ish soup that includes dried apricots and prunes right there in the soup broth. (Let them soak in water to rehydrate for a few hours, then chop them into bite-sized pieces.) I don't have a recipe, I just sort of soup-ify a tagine recipe. Turmeric, chicken, rice in the soup. Etc.

It's really a very different flavor profile for a soup. Sweet and savory and hearty while still feeling very light.
posted by phunniemee at 10:47 AM on September 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

My recommendation for BEST EVER soup book: The Complete Book of Soups and Stews.

Not only does it have about a billion soups in it (some quite simple), but it also thoroughly outlines various essential soup-making techniques (from a non-expert perspective) which can be rolled into new recipes and experiments.

Anyway, here's one I made up in a pinch, back in my pro days, and that's served me well since:

Tomato - Zucchini "Bisque"

Canned Tomato, diced
Vegetable Stock
Heavy Cream
Olive oil
Onion, medium dice
Zucchini, medium dice
Garlic, roasted
Basil and Oregano, fresh or dried
Kosher or Sea Salt
Black Pepper, fresh cracked
Parmesan Cheese, the good stuff
Toast Points (optional)

I don't have exact measurements, offhand, but assuming you have a large can of tomato... About 1/2 of a large onion, four-odd zukes of medium size, a few cloves of garlic (they're roasted, so sky's the limit, IMHO). Less than a quart of stock, probably, and a few cups of cream. Everything else to taste/texture.

Roast the garlic during ingredient prep. Sweat the onions in the oil until soft and slightly caramelized, then add zucchini pieces, cooking until partly softened. Add garlic, tomato, and stock. Bring to a low simmer, adding seasonings to taste, and begin heating the bulk of the cream until its "scalded" (slight simmer/filmy surface). Remove soup from heat and slightly pusle-blend to break the medium diced vegetables to a tiny dice (immersion blender is best), adding heated cream and grated parm in small doses. The soup should be fairly thick, and the zucchini bits should still have a bit of an al dente texture. Serve garnished with a drizzle of remaining cream, and the optional toast points (fer dippin'!).
posted by credible hulk at 10:58 AM on September 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

Pumpkin/Squash & ginger soup. This time of year pumpkins & squash are super cheap and there are a thousand variations if you do some googling. Super easy to make if you have a stick blender, & if you don't mind lumps a potato masher will do. If coconut cream is outside of your budget half & half works nicely too. Works great with most pumpkins, I've made it with pie pumpkins too but in my opinion but butternut is the best, but really if you crank up the spices & ginger will work with any old pumpkin or even sweet potato.
posted by wwax at 11:04 AM on September 23, 2014

Curried Squash Soup
Butternut squash
olive oil or butter
chicken broth
plain yogurt
- peel, cut into chunks, and cook butternut squash. Make a roux with 2 Tb olive oil or butter, 2 Tb flour, cooked until the flour is golden. Slowly add chicken broth until it's a not very thick gravy consistency. Add squash, curry powder, salt to taste, and blend with immersion blender. You can add small amounts of cayenne pepper or sriracha if you want it hot. Top with plain yogurt, esp. if it's hot.

Cream of Veg. Soup (same as above)
Cook Veg (spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, potatoes, etc.)
Make a roux, add chicken broth
Blend with veg.
ex., Cream of potato with jalapenos, cream of carrot with ginger, etc.
I often make extra vegetables, so I can make 'Cream of' soup the next day. Best soup ever was Cream of Leftover Thanksgiving Broccoli, with homemade turkey broth and leftover creamed onions, blended.

Italian Sausage (esp. chicken Ital. sausage) Soup, chicken broth & kale, cooked until kale is well done.

Red Lentils, Cabbage, & Sausage Soup, usually, but not always with chicken broth.

Rotisserie chicken from the grocery is a pretty good deal, or roast a chicken (an excellent skill to master), use the meat for a meal or 2. Remove any chicken from the bones, set aside. Simmer the bones in water for an hour or 2. You can mash it with a masher, add water as needed, add some onion, carrot, celery, cabbage, wilted veg that won't get eaten, etc., or not. Drain & strain. Sometimes I add a bit more water to get all the juice from the bones. Cool, remove most of the fat, and you have such lovely chicken broth. Freeze if you aren't ready to make soup, perhaps Chicken Soup with Noodles (or the best chicken pot pie Of All Time). If you learn to make Matzoh balls, you can make matzoh ball soup almost as good as Oma's.
posted by theora55 at 11:19 AM on September 23, 2014

This red lentil soup is awesome as written, and even better if you add preserved lemon, leave out the rice, and garnish with mint and cilantro. And this smoky split pea soup is also pretty much perfect as written (though adding collard greens is a good idea).

Both of these are from Appetite for Reduction, which has a ton of other good soup recipes.
posted by snaw at 11:25 AM on September 23, 2014

I like Italian Wedding Soup, personally. Hearty without being too heavy.

I also like a good minestrone --- you can do it 100 different ways, personally, I go all out -- start it off with 3-4 slices of chopped bacon or pancetta browned in the bottom of the pan, then your aromatics, sautéed till translucent --- carrots, onions, celery, garlic --- then add beef stock, a large can of crushed tomatoes, can of kidney beans drained and rinsed, ditto garbanzos. Let that hang out for a bit, then for the final half-hour add a couple potatoes, chopped and a half a cup of some small pasta. Finish with parsley, parmesean and cracked black pepper. Don't get heartier than that.

If you have one handy, throwing a rind of parmesean in with the broth is good for either one of these, and lots of other soups. Gives it an extra salty, umami punch.
posted by Diablevert at 11:32 AM on September 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

I loooooooove the cookbook A Beautiful Bowl of Soup. My mom bought it for me when I was in college, when I was still vegetarian, and I have used the hell out of it. It has a wide variety of soups and stews and they're all really easy to make with fantastic results. A++ would recommend again.
posted by lollymccatburglar at 11:40 AM on September 23, 2014

Beef Stew with Mustard - make your beef stew as per usual with carrots, potatoes, onion, and lots of mushrooms for veggies. Seasoning: salt & pepper, a few bay leaves, and several spoonfuls of dijon mustard, both grainy and smooth types. I added extra dried mustard powder because i didn't have enough smooth for my tastes. It is particularly nice with a generous splash of cognac, but wine will also do well, or you can leave out. The mustard is the key part.

Mushroom Soup - dice up an onion and sauté with a knob of butter in the bottom of a soup pot until translucent, or caramelized if you're so ambitious. Add about five or six cups of sliced mushrooms and again cook until browned a bit. Add stock, seasoning with salt, pepper and an herb of your choice (rosemary?). A cheese rind will add extra flavour if you have it. Cook until well-stewed. If you like, add cream to make cream of mushroom soup. This is also a good place to use dried mushrooms if you have them, along with the fresh mushrooms.
posted by lizbunny at 11:46 AM on September 23, 2014

Two I particularly like: tomato-lentil soup and Nile River lentil soup.
posted by johnofjack at 11:46 AM on September 23, 2014

Oh, and Pinterest is really good for things like this. I get lots of soup recipes from there.
posted by lollymccatburglar at 11:46 AM on September 23, 2014

My fav soup in the world.
posted by Cosine at 12:21 PM on September 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

This Pumpkin-Bean Soup, which I think I found on AskMe so thank you to whoever posted it before, is stupid easy, delicious, and yes, it's healthy too.
posted by capricorn at 1:16 PM on September 23, 2014

The two soups I find myself making over and over again are:

Black Bean Soup with Cumin and Jalapeno

Chicken Tortilla Soup. This one I like to fry up the tortilla strips in a little bit of oil and top each bowl with them, instead of mixing them into the soup unfried.
posted by radiomayonnaise at 1:51 PM on September 23, 2014

Previously on Ask...Help me make some delicious soups.
posted by Kreiger at 1:51 PM on September 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

We like a good creamy cauliflower soup. You'll want to soften up some cauliflower on the stove, then drain it well and, while it's still hot, blend it up with a cup or so of chicken or vegetable stock (boiling), a little bit of thickened cream, a diced fried onion (which you prepared earlier), a bit of curry powder, maybe a dash of salt and pepper, and a fistful of a good strong cheese like parmesan or pecoriono. If the consistency is too runny you can add a little bit of flour; if it's too thick you add a bit more stock. The key thing is the cauliflower, you pretty much just improvise after that. Blammo.
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:14 PM on September 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

The key to good soup is the stock.

Buy a duck, bone the duck, roast the bones, break them and boil them forever with the fat and skin. There is nothing you can put in that stock that won't taste good. That does take a while, but then you have duck stock in the freezer!

Easier: Buy a roasted chicken and boil that for eight hours. The chicken won't be any good but the stock will be.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 3:26 PM on September 23, 2014

Two quick and easy recipes:

1) Make this chile-garlic soup from Jacques Pepin, then make countless variations. (Homemade crouton not required.)

2) Make this recipe for tortilla soup, which I got from the owner of a little restaurant in Mexico City, who wrote out the recipe for me on a napkin, in pictures:

Into a 4-qt pot of chicken stock add one can of retried beans. Mix and add cream/milk/dairy alternative. Heat over low flame for a few minutes. Freshly fried tortilla strips and shredded, cooked chicken are great but not mandatory additions to start with.
posted by Room 641-A at 5:35 PM on September 23, 2014

I am a huge fan of potato soup, which I don't think I have seen listed. Here is a recipe that looks relatively simple and very tasty.
posted by Michele in California at 5:40 PM on September 23, 2014

Patricia Wells' "Quick Chicken-Lemon Soup"- it's a variation on the classic Greek avgolemono (egg-lemon). Delicious, fast, and easy.
posted by caryatid at 6:52 PM on September 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

Potato-leek soup
5-6 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced
2 leeks, cleaned and sliced
stock/stock cubes + water
butter, salt & pepper

Slice the leeks first. Put them in a large soup pot on low heat with a bit of butter, or just water. Let them sweat a bit while you peel and slice the potatoes. Add the potatoes once they are sliced along with the stock/stock cubes + water. Probably a good 5 cups or so. Turn up the heat and bring to a boil. When boiling, turn down to a simmer and simmer until the potatoes are soft. Mash roughly with a potato masher, season with salt & pepper to taste. Yum.

You could blend it and add cream to turn it into vichyssoise, but why?

Green veggie soup with gremolata
Lots of (mostly) green veggies, about 3 cups' worth when chopped
2 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped
shallot, finely chopped
butter/olive oil
stock/stock cubes + water, about 5 cups
salt & pepper
gremolata (below)
greek yogurt

Make up the veggies according to what you like and what's in season. In winter I tend to use broccoli, zucchini, turnip/swede (not green but available). In summer try broccoli, broccolini, zucchini, asparagus, peas, squash, etc. I've not tried leafy veg like kale, bok choy, spinach or silverbeet but I bet it would work.

Sauté the shallot in butter/oil on very low heat. Add vegies, potatoes and stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until vegies are tender. You can reserve some veg (eg broccoli) and add them towards the end of the cooking for an interesting colour/texture contrast. Season to taste with salt & pepper.

good-sized handful of each of 3 herbs - basil is mandatory, others could be oregano, thyme, dill, parsley, finely chopped
zest of one lemon
clove of garlic, minced finely
You can food-process all of this together if you like, or just chop a lot. Mix all together.

Ladle soup into a bowl. Put a big dollop of Greek yogurt and another one of gremolata on top of the soup. Yuuuuummm.
posted by Athanassiel at 10:58 PM on September 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

Puppet McSockerson's Best Evah Speed Soup (low carb too!)

1 tbsp of bacon fat (or butter or olive oil)
1 shallot, chopped
1-2 cloves of garlic, chopped

Saute until it smells good.

Dump in 1 bag of frozen cauliflower or frozen broccoli. (both work equally great)

Add 3 cups of water, a dash of Lea and Perrins, and 1.5 cubes of chicken bullion. (I use GoBio brand, they are far and away the best I have ever tasted). NOTE: The quality of the soup sort of hinges on the quality of your bullion. I used a lesser bullion once and the soup was pretty mediocre.

Simmer until veg is cooked/soft enough to be able to puree it.

Add in 2 TBSP of full fat cream cheese and then puree the whole whack of it with an immersion blender. Throw in some shredded cheddar cheese (~1 cup shredded) and puree again.

Ladle in to bowls. Top with a bit of shredded cheese and fresh black pepper. Crumbled bacon turns this soup up to 11.

- Takes MAX 20 minutes to make. Even less if you nuke the frozen veg prior to using it.
- Dirt cheap to make. My husband and I did some mental math and it ended up being somewhere around 2$ per serving. I get these huge Costco sacks of frozen broccoli and frozen cauliflower. Each giant sack has four smaller microwavable sacks. One small sack per pot of soup.
- Dead simple to always have the ingredients on hand. This is my household's go to "Shit, what are we going to have for supper?!" meal.
- Tastes really REALLY good. I have been known to make a quick pot of this soup as a snack to eat while I watch a movie. I have yet to have a person not rave over it. Even my 7 year old loves it.
- Quite filling, very satisfying.
- For whatever reason it pairs really well with ceasar salad.
- Reheats really well.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 5:30 AM on September 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

Last night I made Zesty Hamburger Soup for six people (including 4 teenagers), and I still have enough left over for two or three lunches.

It's cheap, basic, filling, delicious, and it makes a ton. It also freezes well. I make it without the jalapeno because of wimpy palates in the family, but the rest of us just add a little Sriracha to our bowls. I usually serve it with some French bread and a salad.
posted by SamanthaK at 7:41 AM on September 24, 2014

I grew up with 3 super-easy soups and they are REALLY GOOD.

1. Cauliflower Bisque.
Boil or steam 1 head cauliflower, a few carrots, a couple potatoes, a small onion, and if you like, a small sweet potato, all together in a pot until they are all soft. You do not need to cut them in very small pieces. Big chunks is fine. Blend everything. Add a bit of milk to thin out, or water. Soy milk works too. Add a little butter for flavor if you like. Salt to taste. SO GOOD. Also works well with a dollop of sour cream.

2. Spinach Soup. Sautee an onion or two in a soup pot in some vegetable oil. Then add milk - at least 4 cups or so, but it doesn't matter much. You won't be adding more liquid, so this is your soup base. Add a couple big handfuls of frozen chopped spinach. Or fresh, of course, but frozen is very very easy. Make sure the soup doesn't boil or the milk will curdle. Once the milk starts to simmer it's done. You can also add some potato chunks or really any other veggies you like. Blend the soup! That's it!

3. Corn chowder. Sautee and onion and add milk just as for the spinach soup. Instead of spinach, add several sliced potatoes (thin slices, no more than a quarter inch max) and a cup or so of frozen sweet corn. Diced peppers (frozen or fresh) also work well. This soup is great with soy milk. Done as soon as the potatoes are thoroughly cooked.
posted by Cygnet at 9:19 AM on September 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Here are some tried and true favorite soup recipes that I posted previously to Metafilter:

Tostada Soup

Split Pea Soup

Sweet Potato Leek Soup, included with some other recipes here.
posted by gudrun at 11:38 AM on September 24, 2014

I've shouted out favorite soups in past threads, but three since then I've become smitten with:

-Anya von Bremzen's Potato Soup with Fried Almonds--Spanish as all get out, ugly as sin (the stock separates and the fried almond garlic paste is like silt debris), but with a depth and uniqueness that leaves the usual winter bacon-y potato soups in the dust. It was a little seasonally premature on my part--husband went, as he slurped it up, "this is gonna RULE this winter!" ha--but I had a huge sack of gold potatoes to deal with and so. No regrets, and it will indeed be entering our winter soup rotation.
-Sara Moulton's Chilled Pea Soup with Shrimp--the time when this is ideal (balmy sunny days) is fading in the northern hemisphere, but soooo good then.
-Serious Eats' Mexican Gazpacho with Grilled Shrimp (I seem to have a real thing for shrimp in soup with other stuff going on)--spurred by a Mefi post on Bittman's iterations of the dish, this summer I went gazpacho-mad and tried every famous recipe for it under the sun, including fancypants stuff like Eleven Madison Park's strawberry version (kinda a pain in the ass!), all of Bittman's suggestions, Tyler Florence's, blah blah blah. Many were pretty tasty but this was the clear winner, which was cool because it was also one of the easiest. Now I'm hungry.

and a general tip: consider using aleppo pepper where things call for hot spices like cayenne or chile powder. It's milder heat-wise, but in soups particularly I've noticed it gives a nice roundness to the whole thing that's quite satisfying. Just my two cents.
posted by ifjuly at 5:32 PM on September 24, 2014

Purchase Thai curry paste of whatever variety you fancy.

Saute an onion gently, if you can be bothered, or don't.
Add chopped raw chicken and fry until cooked. If you can't be bothered, use left over or rotisserie chicken. If you fancy fish, you can put raw white fish in at this point but don't wait until it's cooked to carry on.
Add curry paste and a chopped up hunk of creamed coconut if you have it.
Add plenty of water (or coconut milk if you like, in which case that creamed coconut was probably overkill) and bring to the boil.
Chuck in some instant noodles, preferably the "straight to wok" kind, although the dehydrated ones will work.
If there are any frozen prawns in your freezer, chuck a handful of those in, or frozen veg that seems appropriate, or raw spinach.
Cook until noodles look noodly and any fish is cooked and prawns are heated through.
Add fish sauce and lime juice to taste (bottled is fine, fresh is better).

Scoff the lot.

This sounds like a lot of steps but it takes me about five minutes if not using raw chicken.
posted by emilyw at 6:14 AM on September 25, 2014

Response by poster: Wow! These are great replies. I'm looking forward to trying them. One question... for vegetarian soups mentioned, is there a general way I could go about adding meat to those without overcooking the protein? Specifically I'd be thinking of sausage and chicken.
posted by codacorolla at 8:41 AM on September 25, 2014

Sausage is un-overcookable I think.

If it's a thick soup, fry the chunk of meat (I do pork steaks) exactly how you like it, then slice it diagonally into thin strips, and plonk the whole sliced thing in its natural shape on top of the bowl of soup.

Looks fab, tastes great.

Otherwise just cook the meat separately and stir it in the soup right at the end.
posted by emilyw at 11:44 AM on September 25, 2014

I am a big fan of oxtail stew. There are bunches of recipes online, but I use less a recipe per se and more of a technique:

1. Brown the oxtails, then stew them for hours and hours (4 absolute minimum, and 5-6 works better) in some beef broth (or water, if you don't have broth) with the addition of a good amount of red wine. Float some bay leaves and maybe some thyme on top.

2. Remove the oxtails to a separate platter and cool the broth in the fridge overnight.

3. The next day, take the broth out of the fridge and remove some or all of the fat that will have congealed at the top.

4. Either remove the meat from the bones of the oxtails (if you want to be excessively civilized), or leave whole and place back in pot.

5. Reheat the pot of broth and meat and add veggies and starches to taste (ones that work especially well: parsnips, leeks, carrots, potatoes, mushrooms), and cook to desired doneness.

I realize that you requested "healthy" soups, and some people don't consider red meat healthy, but I think it can be (especially if it's pastured and organic). Oxtail is very gelatinous, and good for your joints. It's the original source of that glucosamine and chondroitin that people pay a lot of money to get in supplement form. If you stew the oxtails long enough, the ends will be soft and you can gnaw the gelatin right off the bone.
posted by mysterious_stranger at 11:46 PM on September 25, 2014

A general soup-making tip - if you're not gung-ho enough to make your own stock from scratch but you're also a little uneasy about those bouillion cube things, the Kitchen Basics line of soup stocks is generally pretty good. (I go with homemade stock a lot in winter when I'm way more likely to do soup cooking, but have these on hand for summer in a pinch.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:43 AM on September 26, 2014

I would just add cooked meat to my soups.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 10:57 AM on September 26, 2014

Response by poster: I decided to work down the thread, and started with jessamyn's build your own soup link. I went with:
-White Rice (Jasmine, but it's what I had on hand)
-Dill and Oregano (plus generous salt and pepper)
-Pre-sauteed onions and garlic.
-Organic White, Orange and Purple carrots for color variety
-Butternut Squash

I had a few general questions, however, about stuff I'd like to improve in the future...

I didn't wash the rice beforehand, like I typically would if I was making a pot. Would I be able to tell the difference in the broth if I washed it next time?

The veggies also got a little bit overcooked. I put them in at 20 minutes, as the recipe suggested, and the kale seemed to do well at that time, but the squash doesn't have any mouth-feel to it (still tasty, though) and the carrots could be firmer. Is there a general guide or rule of thumb for how long to add vegetables to a simmer to maintain slightly firmer consistency?

Regardless, it's great. A really hearty meal with a lot of flavors. I've gotten three meals out of it so far, and will probably get another 1.5, plus with ingredients left over to make at least another batch next Monday. I'm looking forward to working through other recipes.
posted by codacorolla at 2:07 PM on September 26, 2014

For the soups I mentioned, I guess you could crumble bacon on the potato-leek soup. Can't see an easy way to make the green veg soup meaty; the whole point is to have yummy tasty veg flavours, not meaty ones. If you must have meat, why not have it as an adjunct to the soup rather than incorporating it into the soup?
posted by Athanassiel at 2:12 PM on September 26, 2014

One of the easiest soups ever is lentil and vegetable, perfect for a cold night and keeps fairly well too:

Roughly chop couple white onions and fry in veg/olive oil over a medium heat, add two sticks celery roughly chopped then two large chopped carrots. Add two large handfuls of dried red lentils and a pint of vegetable stock with a teaspoon of turmeric and a few whole cloves of garlic. Salt and pepper to taste. Cook for about 25 minutes until the lentils have softened. You can also add a pinch of chilli powder or some cumin depending on your fancy. I usually blend this one up but it works quite well half blended too. You can also chop the veg in the blender just to make prep even easier. It's the laziest soup ever but is a good base to experiment from too.
posted by RandomInconsistencies at 1:45 AM on September 27, 2014

Is there a general guide or rule of thumb for how long to add vegetables to a simmer to maintain slightly firmer consistency?

Not really --- how long veggies take to cook through and then to go soft depends not only on the type of veg, but how fresh it is and how big or small you've chopped it up. Potatoes, say, tend to be around 20 min if cut to bit sized pieces; carrots can also take around that long, less if you slice them very thinly. Parsley will still retain a bit of freshness after five or ten minutes, but longer than that and it'll go completely soft. Certain greens --- kale, collards, cabbage --- can take a lot of cooking (30 min+) and still be toothsome, others (escarole, spinach) will wilt completely in that time. But the beauty of soup is that you can play around and experiment --- the soup will still be fine if you put the kale in and then wait 10 minutes to add the carrots. As you cook more you'll get a feel for it. Having a bit of the raw veg can give you a bit of an indication --- the tougher and stringier it is raw, the longer it will take to cook.
posted by Diablevert at 5:44 AM on September 27, 2014

If you like mushrooms, this recipe for mushroom soup is incredible. (Article is behind a login wall, but it's free to register, and I'm happy to post the recipe, if that is kosher) The broth that comes from their method of cooking rice is unreal; I would drink it out of a water glass, given half a chance. Adding mushrooms and a little bit of cream makes some of the best soup I have ever had.
posted by Mayor West at 7:39 AM on September 29, 2014

My personal hot quick soup is a single serving can of V8 juice, a boullion cube, a few shakes of dehydrated chopped onion, black pepper, a splash of soy sauce and a pinch of sugar. (We, of the southern U.S., often put a pinch of sugar in tomato based foods. It does not make anything sweet. It is a cooking quirk handed down through our families.) Pour into a mug to sip with a wedge of cornbread or grilled cheese sandwich.

I sometimes add leftover vegetables, dehydrated mushrooms, some salsa, hot sauce and/or chili-garlic paste.
Add a can of your favorite beans plus chili powder.
Leftover mac & cheese is good added at the end, just long enough to reheat.
posted by maggieb at 11:39 AM on September 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

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