Make Soup Night a Success with These Simple Tips

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Got people in your house who groan about Soup Night? Time to change that, especially since it’s such an economical meal option. Consider these strategies to making your soup night a success!

mug of soup

Chunky Potato Soup with Bacon & Tarragon

Soup night. It’s long been a weekly tradition for us — at least in colder weather. Years ago I read Miserly Moms by Jonni McCoy as I prepared to quit my job and manage our home on one income. The book was amazingly helpful in making ends meet.

One of her recommendations for staying in the black was to have a weekly soup night.

Soup is quick, economical, and filling. You can make a meal from little bits of a few different ingredients. And it’s so cozy on a cold day.

However, some people have a hard time considering soup as a meal. They often mistake it as a side dish instead of a main course. Or they balk at the idea of vegetables and broth. My children would count themselves in the category of “some people.”

Tips for Making Soup Night a Success!

I’ve been working on some strategies to make soup night a little easier to swallow, for adults and children alike:

1. Offer a choice.

Whether you prepare two different choices of soup or variety of toppings to choose from, make some options available. Not only does this brighten up soup night, but it also allows reluctant soup eaters to have some power in the matter.

breadsticks on a platter

Easy Garlic Breadsticks

2. Provide some delicious breads.

My kids absolutely love Garlic Focaccia and breadsticks as well as popovers. By offering these on soup night, I’m giving the kids — of all ages — something to look forward to, in addition to the soup.

In a pinch, cheese and crackers work, too.

3. Bake a great dessert.

It’s amazing to me how quickly the kids can scarf down a bowl of soup when they know there is a great dessert, like Slab Apple Pie to top off with.

While I’m not necessarily bribing them, I am rewarding the good eater with a little treat. I figure that eventually, they’ll develop a taste for the soup in question and not need a little reward.

4. Serve it with a smile.

If your child or spouse isn’t quick to embrace soup night, never fear. Through trial and error, you’ll find ways to make it work.

For our family, I’ve realized that chilis and stews go over better than thinner soups. The important part is for each of us to eat what we have with thanksgiving. And hopefully, my cheerful attitude (and persistence) will help make it an enjoyable experience.

crock of tomato soup and a salad

Roasted Vegetable Soup

5. Build a library of favorite soup recipes.

It’s not that some people don’t like soup. It’s that they haven’t found soups that they love. Through trial and error, you’ll find the right styles and recipes to fit the folks at your table.

For instance, Bryan doesn’t care for smooth, blended soups, so if I’m making something for the whole family, I typically choose chunkier soups like Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup or Spicy Beef & Bean Stew. I save the blended soups for lunches with the kids or when I’ve got girlfriends coming over.

Try the wide breadth of soup recipes available. For awhile, my friend Lynn hosted a weekly Soup’s On!, building a repertoire of recipes she knew her family loved. A Feast of Soups is a great soup cookbook that you should definitely look through. Or check out my Good Cheap Eats Soup Archives and my Life as Mom Soup Archives for more soup inspiration.

How do YOU make soup nights a success?

bowl of soup

Originally published October 10, 2011. Updated February 17, 2018.

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. Amy says:

    Love soup! My five-year old actually said, the other night, “Can we not have soup for dinner tomorrow?”. Guess I need to change it up a little bit.

    Can you point me to the recipe for the slab apple pie you mention? I know I’ve seen it before but I don’t seem to be finding it in your recipe index, it IS early but…


  2. Soup at our house IS a meal. I usually serve some type of bread or sandwich with it, then raw veggies, pickles or olives, or crackers and cheese. My kids don’t complain at all. When its cold we like to have it once a week.

  3. Valerie says:

    I’ve declared Wednesday, Soup Night, at our house. It’s AWANA’s night and soup is a perfect go to meal so we can eat and head out the door. My oldest son actually asks for soup for dinner sometimes. This week is Beef Barley – will have to look into the slab apple pie too!

    • @Valerie, I’d love a link to the beef barley soup. Is it Fish mama’s recipe? Have you tried freezing it?

      • Valerie says:

        @Jackie Brown, Sorry Jackie, the recipe for the soup is in a good old fashioned cookbook (Better Homes & Gardens Biggest Book of Slow Cooker Recipes) and I don’t have a blog to link to. I’ve never frozen it, but I think you could if you kept the barley out until you reheated. (I add the barley at the end in my crockpot.)

      • Jessica says:

        @Jackie Brown, my recipe is, ahem, in the cookbook. Wait for it? 😉

        But, I do freeze it with the barley in it cooked already.

      • Kaz says:

        @Jackie Brown, this is my go-to Beef with Barley soup recipe. DELICIOUS and easy! 🙂

  4. Kim says:

    We all love soup (my 3 boys included). I think soup is a success because I am sure to include some kid of hearty ingredient. Whether it’s the additional of little meatballs in the soup, thick hearty chunks of potatoes in their chowder , or just the addition of a few tortellini in the soup, it seems to make the difference.

  5. The college DH and I attended did bread and soup night once a week and donated the money they saved to charity. When we graduated and got married I kept up the tradition except now the charity is us. So, my kids are used to it, but I agree good bread or crackers and a bit of dessert help a lot. I also like to add a pitcher of lemonade or iced tea to make things seem even more special (we usually drink water or milk).

  6. Kelley says:

    We have Saturday night soup night here in the colder weather. I meet a lot of resistence with all kinds of soup I make. I try to have them on an 8 week rotation. But this past Saturday my mind was blown!! I served your recipe for Roasted Vegetable soup. And!!!!!!!!!!! I would have NEVER guessed a soup made of vegetables and pureed would be THE soup to serve! Thank you one million times!!!

    • Jessica says:

      @Kelley, Yeah! That makes my day!

      • Sarah says:

        @Jessica, I also made this soup! I had all the ingredients from my CSA as well. The kids had an aversion to the peppers, but both my husband and I L-O-V-E-D it. Not to mention its just pure veggies. This has given me a spring board to create similar soups – thank you!

  7. Melinda P says:

    My 5 year old loves soup (especially tomato), but my 3 year old and 2 year old won’t touch the stuff. Maybe when they get a little older they’ll be more open to it.

  8. I love soup in the fall, so cozy. I like to double my recipes and freeze extra for a non-cooking night. I will reheat two frozen soups, one in the crock pot and the other on the stove-top to offer choices. Plus soup is such a frugal meal for company or give away! Ummm, cornbread or homemade bread hits the spot.

  9. Kaz says:

    Soup is a staple in my house! I take it for lunch most days as it heats up easily and, paired with a salad, is a cheap and sooo yummy! 😀 And with fresh bread it always hits the spot.

  10. Soup, beautiful soup! Turkey vegetable for dinner tonight, ham and bean soup in the freezer, and just finished up a pot of ham and potato soup. Umm, ummm good!

  11. christy says:

    i was going to ask for the slab apple pie but saw someone else already asked. I made a mexican dish the other night that used up little bits and pieces too. We like soup and toppings are always a must!

  12. Lynette W. says:

    Thanks for this reminder post Jessica! My kids are reluctant soup eaters too! Drives me crazy (though they don’t like the canned chicken and noodle stuff too – so that’s for some weird reason, encouraging to me!) I pretty much have followed all of your tips as well. I figure over time having crock-pot soup night ingrained in their brains and they’ll get it that soup is great and fun to eat! I can certainly hope 🙂
    My oldest use to eat chilli as a baby (because, hey she was given a spoon! liquid drained of course!) than she went through what I call the picky 3 – 6 yr old years where they don’t like ANYTHING (even that chilli!) Now she is back to loving chilli (at 8 now, almost 9!) and even asks for seconds and says it’s her favorite! Glad I didn’t give up those foods on her during those years….Now I just have to wait patiently while my other kids each go through their picky years. Great Tips! Thanks for the reminder 🙂

  13. Janine says:

    I tried to look to see if I can find it but alas….. what is the soup in the picture in this post?

  14. Jori says:

    When my children were little, soup night always went over better when there was something to dip in it! Bread sticks went over very well. Or little cubes of cheese they could float in the soup and then eat when they got melty. Whatever it takes! Even at 17 and almost 20, they still like cubes of cheese in their tomato soup!

  15. Christine says:

    I love soup and would eat it all the time, but it gets so many groans. Thanks for the tips!

    • Brave the pushback! I am right there with you. I decided I’m a train with a cowcatcher on it. I’m coming on through with my plan. 😉

  16. K Yee says:

    Yes to the idea of adding good bread! I know someone mentioned cornbread which is a family favourite. Also top favourites to have with soup are biscuits, cornmeal muffins or other savoury muffins. Growing up my Mom often would serve one of our (the kids) favourite salads with soup including grated carrot with sunflower seeds and raisins or an apple salad. Having something that was a favourite made for smiles all around even if soup was not the favourite item for all.

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