Stir the Pot: The Soup Pot

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The Soup Pot can come to your rescue any night you need a quick meal. Simple and nourishing, soup is good food, perfect for feeding a crowd or sneaking in some veggies.

Stir the Pot: The Soup Pot | Good Cheap Eats

Chicken Noodle Soup

When I’m not sure what to make for dinner, especially in cooler months, I turn to the soup pot. Soup is quick to fix, super versatile, and is a great way for me to sneak veggies into my kids’ diet. Over the years our family has developed quite the repertoire of soups we love.

That wasn’t always the case, though. Back when I posted this Chicken Noodle Soup recipe, my kids gave me very limited options on Soup Night. They were all so little and so fussy, I stuck with what worked. Over time, I busted out and tried different flavor combinations on them.

The result has been that the weekly soup night no longer phases anyone. I don’t “have to” bribe them with the bread basket to get them to dig in and eat. In fact, I actually get requests for soup these days. Go figure!

Here are some of our family’s favorite ways to fill the soup pot quick and easily:

Fill the Soup Pot Quickly and Easily.

Stir the Pot: The Soup Pot | Good Cheap Eats

Sausage Potato Soup

Assemble your tools.

The wonderful thing about soup making is that you really don’t need a lot of special tools and gadgets. Sure, there are a few things that help make the process easier, but I made soup in our French kitchen without all my favorites and it came together just fine.

Here are some of my stand-by soup tools:

Start with some oil and an onion.

I read Shauna Niequest’s Bread and Wine years ago and remember nodding in agreement when she said something like, If you’re not sure what to make, just start sautéing an onion. Once isn’t nice and soft and beginning to brown, you’ll have a good idea what’s for dinner. (My paraphrase.)

This is so true for soup. Usually this is how I start a soup, even if I’m not sure what kind I’m making. It’s a great aromatic to start the process.

Once you’ve got the onions going, you can add in other hearty vegetables like carrots, potatoes, celery. Saute them just a bit to caramelize them and bring out their flavors.

Stir the Pot: The Soup Pot | Good Cheap Eats

Vegetable Alphabet Soup

Use good broth.

The broth really makes a huge difference in the flavor of the overall soup. There are some great commercial brands out there. I find Costco’s organic line to be very good, but nothing beats homemade chicken or turkey stock.

After roasting a chicken on Friday, I made two batches of stock (do a second press!) and used the rich brown stock in soup on Monday. So good and practically free!

Once you’ve got the aromatics sautéed, stir in your broth. Add vegetables in the order of how long they need to cook. Potatoes take longer than peas.

If you’re adding a protein, like beans or cooked meat, you can probably stir them into the soup pot in the last ten minutes, just to heat them through.

Be sure to taste!

When you make homemade soup, you’ll find that it’s nowhere near the saltiness of commercial soups. Be sure to taste frequently and adjust the seasonings to taste. It’s your soup; make it how you like it!

So, that’s pretty easy, isn’t it?

You can mix dinner in the soup pot in less than 30 minutes, with or without a recipe. Need more help? Check out these favorite recipes of ours:

What’s YOUR favorite way to fill the soup pot?

Don’t miss the full series: Quick Dinner Ideas!


About Jessica Fisher

I believe great meals don't have to be complicated or expensive. There's a better way, and it won't take all afternoon.

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  1. Soup is one of my go-to dinners, even during summer. It has saved me a handful of times when I have no idea what to make for dinner. This is a fantastic read; thanks for it.

  2. Stephanie M. says:

    We love soup too. Now that the weather is turning colder on the eastern side of the country, we are looking forward to the many pots of soup to come. Last winter when it was so cold, I made soup 13 times which gave us several meals with each pot. And each one of them different. It is hard to narrow down which one we like the best because they’re all so different. I always make meatball tortellini soup on Halloween. It’s been a tradition for many years starting when our kids were small and we all needed something hot after trick or treating. Then there’s hamburger veggie soup, bean and hot dog soup, cheddar ham chowder, split pea with ham, chicken noodle, minestrone, (which is a soup I always serve on Thanksgiving), potato soup with bacon and cheddar cheese, cream of onion soup with homemade croutons, lentil soup, and not to mention all the stews I cook in the soup pot, including beef stew, fasolokia ( which is a Greek string bean and beef stew), and another Greek stew with red wine marinated beef and cauliflower. Yup, my soup pot is always at the ready during the winter. 🙂

  3. Amy P says:

    On Tuesday we had three families with young kids over for a potluck (8 adults, 7 kids age 4 and under). I got carried away and made three kinds of soup – mini-meatball/veg/barley, curried butternut squash (perfect as baby food – smooth & thick), and smoky bacon corn chowder. My husband has always claimed he doesn’t enjoy corn chowder, but he had three bowls! 🙂

    Next I want to try a carrot, ginger, and coconut soup that my MIL sent me the recipe for. And homemade cream of chicken – I’ve only had the canned variety as a kid! I make a homemade condensed cream of mushroom to keep in the freezer in lieu of cans though.

  4. karen says:

    My kids love America’s Test Kitchen Broccoli Soup—great for cleaning out any green veg in your fridge. Sketchy spinach and kale? Wobbly broccoli? No problem, just toss it in. Ham and beans is also a big favorite…just in case there is a ham bone lingering in your freezer!

  5. Donna says:

    We are big soup lovers. It’s such a great way to use up leftovers in the freezer, crisper, cupboards…wherever! I keep 3-4 boxes of chicken, veg and beef broth in my cupboard at all times. Soup can be made with just about anything if you have the broth and the onion! Love the post.

  6. Anna says:

    I love soup. The kids favorite is chicken noodle soup. My favorite thing to make is either chili or veggie soup. For chili, I add beans, meat, and salsa. I vary the types depending on what we have on hand. It’s always a little different. I do something similar with veggie soup- no recipe- just toss in what we have. We can have ground beef, meatballs, or other bits of meat, usually some type of beans, sometimes pasta, sometimes potatoes, and always lots of different veggies.

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