Easy Soups To Make At Home

January 26, 2015

easy soups

Soup bowls are the new smoothies.  You would think they’d be complicated, but they’re not. Here are some easy soups to make at home…

I’m not going to give you a recipe.  I want you to learn to cook without recipes.  If you’re constantly relying on a recipe, you’re not learning to think for yourself.  But I will give you a formula to work and play from.  This isn’t science like baking – it’s about learning the technique of infusing the broth with flavor agents that boost its flavor.

Soup is excellent for breakfast if you have digestion problems (Soup IS breakfast in many countries, in case you think that’s weird.)  They’re a great lunch.  They’re great for quick dinner in a pinch.

What you’ll need for 1 portion of soup.

Note that the seasonings (star anise, miso etc) are optional.  You can make this in 14 different ways.  I personally think the ginger/soy sauce are the most important – everything else on top is bonus flavor.

  • Vegetable or chicken stock, 2.5 cups, preferably homemade – if not, the frozen stock at Whole Foods is $$ but the next best thing.  The boxed stuff can also do, especially because we’ll be doctoring it – if you’re wondering which brand to buy, check out The Kitchn’s analysis here.  Please don’t use bouillon cubes!  Ugh!
  • Fresh Ginger, 3-4 slices
  • Soy Sauce, preferably low sodium tamari, 1-2 tbsp (don’t use salt when using soy sauce)
  • Sesame oil, 1/4 to 1/2 tsp
  • Lime, juice of 1/2 lime
  • Star Anise, 1
  • Miso, 1 generous tbsp
  • Scallions, 1/2 of a stalk
  • Leafy green type veggies, 1 cup chopped small: kale, spinach, napa cabbage (my fave,) swiss chard, collards, savoy cabbage, even romaine works in here.  A handful mushrooms are lovely in here too.
  • Eggs, 1 or 2, or 1/3 to 1/2 cup of cooked chicken, fish, tofu, beef – whatever protein you have on hand
  • Cooked rice noodles, rice, ramen, buckwheat noodles, udon, even zucchini noodles are great in here. Something like 1/2 cup, or a good handful. You could even do egg noodles in here.
  • Basil or cilantro, a handful.  Thai basil is magical in here.

How to make it.

If you’re making 1 portion of soup, and you have soup a lot – get yourself a cast iron soup bowl.  I got mine at the Asian market for $10.  I use it almost every day.

Place your stock in the bowl or a small saucepan and bring to a simmer on medium low heat.

If you’re using ginger or star anise, place them in there now so they can simmer and enrich the broth.  Here you can let your bowl simmer with the ginger/star anise for anywhere between 5-30 minutes.  If you do a longer simmer, make sure to turn the heat down so your broth doesn’t evaporate too much.

After your spices have simmered for however much time you have, add your veggies.  If it’s spinach, it doesn’t need to cook – just wilt.  The rest of the veggies will take a bit more time – 5-7 minutes.  This is the time to add your mushrooms too.  If you have cooked rice, I like adding it here too to give it time to break down a bit.  You can also add the tofu here too.

When your veggies are cooked, add your cooked noodles, your protein, then your flavor agents – the soy sauce, lime, miso, etc.  If you’re adding the egg as your protein, I crack a couple in there too and stir.  The residual heat will cook the egg in 2-3 minutes.

Throw in a handful basil or cilantro, and you’ve got yourself a hell of a soup bowl.

Here are some of fave combinations, but really, I just use what I have in the fridge.  If I have leftover rice, I use that.  If I’m out of star anise, I don’t put it in (plus I’m not always in the mood for it.)  If I have napa cabbage, I use that.  It’s about making the most of what you have to make yourself a hearty and healthy meal.

Fake pho soup: Chicken stock + ginger + star anise + soy sauce + lime + handful basil + rice noodles + spinach (and I love fresh sliced jalapenos in there.)  A little sesame oil is nice in here too.

Comforting chicken soup: Chicken stock + napa cabbage + soy sauce + chicken.  This one is super simple but there’s something about the combo of chicken stock and napa cabbage that is delicate and magical.

Miso soup: Chicken or veggie broth OR just water + 1 tbsp miso + tofu + soy sauce + mushrooms + scallions.  I like to add some rice in here for texture and substance.  Ginger is nice in here too.

As you can see, you can pick and choose what’s in your soup bowl.  If you have stock, noodles or rice, soy sauce, eggs and one leafy veggie in the pantry/fridge, you can make yourself a great meal in less than 15 minutes.

I make a variation of this every day – especially in the fall/winter.  Some days it turns out better than others.  But it’s great for you, easy to digest, and so easy to put together.

If you love soup, try these easy soup making techniques!

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