Forget the can. Homemade soup is super simple to make, better for you, and most decidedly cheaper.
I started making homemade soup about twenty years ago. Before that I opened a can. I had no idea that you could make it yourself and have it taste good. For our wedding friends gave me the book, A Feast of Soups, by Jacqueline Heriteau (affiliate link). It is a fabulous tome that will teach you the art of soup making.
For about ten years, I reread that book every fall as a refresher for soup making. Nowadays, I have a pretty good idea what will fly with my people and how I can make it. (We’re still working on certain 9yo boys keeping it together when they see cooked carrots, but otherwise, all systems go.)
I make soup at least once a week, often times more, during the winter.
One of the simplest, no-brainer methods that I use, is to make it with leftovers. Good leftovers, I might add. Don’t be talking smack about leftovers.
Food is good in the fridge for three to four days if prepared and stored properly. But, often times, you might not have enough of something leftover to make it to another meal. That’s why several bits of recent meals join forces to make a fabulous soup.
I wanted to call this Whatchagot Soup, but my husband didn’t like that. He proposed Stone Soup, so we’re going with that.
It’s actually quite apropos. The ingredients here are truly reminiscent of the classic folk tale of three destitute soldiers without food or money who cleverly bring about a meal fit for a village. Everyone contributes a little bit and voila! Dinner is served.
Making soup yourself
If you’ve got a big pot, a little oil, some onion, some veg, and some broth, you can make soup. Soup making is pretty forgiving, provided the ingredients are fresh and wholesome.
I used leftover beef from the sub sandwiches and leftover beans from another meal. I make homemade stock all the time, storing it in 2-cup portions in the freezer; that’s basically free since I use the bones of another meal.
This is a general formula for you to tweak based on what you have on hand. Remember I wanted to call it Whatchagot Soup. I had some canned pumpkin, but next time I might use the Roasted Vegetable Puree. I used hominy and green pepper, but you could switch things around however you want.
The only trouble with this soup is that it’s never the same thing, unless you absolutely recreate all your add-ins. It doesn’t matter, though, it’s pretty foolproof and yummy. Just be sure to choose ingredients and seasonings that complement one another.
Making soup cheaper
I’m so out of the canned soup loop, I had to do some research on pricing. It looks like you can buy a cheapo can for as low as a buck and a more “homestyle” variety for up to $3 to $4.
Homemade runs quite a bit cheaper, especially if you’re using up leftovers, foods that have been “paid for” by other meals.
- oil $0.10
- onion $0.10
- potatoes $0.25
- carrots $0.25
- homemade stock – free
- leftover meat, beans – free
- canned pumpkin $0.25
- canned hominy $0.75
- canned tomatoes $0.67
- bell pepper $0.25
- seasonings $0.20
By my calculations, I made the equivalent of 5 cans of soup for $3.02, equating to $0.60/can. BUT, and this is big, this soup tastes better and is way, WAY healthier than canned varieties.
If you want convenience, just freeze the soup in individual portion sizes for quick lunches and dinners.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion (1 cup chopped)
- 2 russet potatoes peeled and chopped
- 2 carrots peeled and sliced
- 4 cups chicken stock , vegetable broth, or water
- 1 cup pumpkin puree homemade vegetable puree, butternut squash puree, or tomato sauce
- 1 15.5-ounce can hominy or corn, drained
- 1 14.5-ounce can petite diced tomatoes
- 1 to 2 cups chicken (cooked and cubed) or other cooked meat of your choice
- 1 15.5-ounce can garbanzo beans rinsed and drained (other beans may be used)
- 1 bell pepper (any color) chopped, or beans or peas (½ cup)
- 1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning Mix , Taco Seasoning Mix, or Jamie's Spice Mix
- black pepper
- In a large stockpot, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the onion and cook, stirring, on medium-low for five minutes. Add the potatoes and carrots and stir. Continue cooking for another 5 minutes.
- Stir in the broth and puree. Add the corn, tomatoes, meat, beans, peppers, and seasonings. Stir well and bring to a simmer.
- Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Adjust seasonings.
What’s YOUR favorite soup recipe?
This is part of the DIY Convenience Foods series.
I’ve taken up this for my daily Work from Home lunch.
third of a cup of soaked yellow lentils
same amount of brown rice
handful of Italian barley
two tablespoons of cooked black beans
some diced left over potatoes or celery
half a stick of carrot chopped
fist full of frozen spinach
a chunk of that cheese that dried out and hardened in the fridge
tablespoon of vegetable oil or beef tallow
teaspoon of Garam Masala, Garlic Powder, half a teaspoon of Cayenne pepper, half a teaspoon of tomato paste
five cups of water or so.
Bring to a boil then lower to a simmer, come back in 45 minutes.
Salt to taste, serve with some bread.
Thanks for sharing!
Freeze tomatoes that don’t get eaten in time – whole. Or even the tiny tomatoes or pieces or slices left over. For soup (or spagetti sauce), I defrost them on the stove in a few minutes and then puree them (I use magic bullet). They make a nice smooth sauce to add to the broth– and soup always tastes better with this puree in it. Today I also chopped head lettuce that we’ve been unable to digest, and that cooked nicely into the soup.
Great tip! Thanks, Lynn.
Love soup. First time living alone, always had family. So am making soup and will freeze for later eating as well. Trying to scale to single living and not eating the same thing over and over. But soup…… well that’s different. A friend said she makes it on the thick side and serves it over noodles or spaghetti or rice and serves it as a main dish, not a soup. So will try that too, I guess just add a thickening rather like I do with stir fry. Thanks for reminding me.
What could I substitute for the potatoes?
You can leave them out. It’s a very forgiving recipe. Just toss in what veg you have on hand.
I love soup, and I have made variations on this many times. (In other words, no recipe, just whatever is on hand.) When it was just 2 of us, I would put little bits of leftovers into the freezer until there was enough for soup. Now that I have 3 GROWING kids who can really pack it away, it’s more like little bits of things that didn’t get used for other meals. I also have a similar thing I do with chili- meat, beans, salsa, and a little tomato paste. Lots of varieties are possible, doesn’t require much thought or measuring, and it can even go in the crockpot or be a freezer meal. 🙂
Weather for recipe and we make this all the time actually not all the time only when we have bits of this and that left over after them in a beagle storage bag in the freezer little bit of this little bit of thats little bit of chicken little bit of this and anything that is left over that is not Jedi leftover material for another meal. My son is autistic and picky. My picky child can eat any picky child for breakfast. But we save everything from every meal that has a tiny little bit of this and that we never waste to the best of our ability. Oh my goodness I think we’ve even thrown dried out chicken nuggets in that reconstitute into yummy delicious pillowy clouds of amazingness in the soup. Everything goes in the ziplock bag in the freezer if there are tiny portions. That way it is fresh and beautiful and frozen by the time we need it. We are a montly income family and when you run out of the money but have mouths to feed it is just brilliant. And so Jedi! Just so Jedi mind trick! It’s awesome! And frankly I grew up in a very well to do family. Middle class but well to do. I did not know how to make soup until I graduated from college because my mom always made me very very particular recipe which was frugal but still out of my grasp in college. And along came an amazing man that I married and we made an amazing child that is the pinnacle of our lives. But with that comes great responsibility and I’m so blessed that this child adores soup. I mean he adores soup adores it! soup, salad soup and salad did I mention soup and salad? I also make homemade bread in my bread machine that is so cheap and amazing. Perfect belly fillers and an amazing recipe that even a child with autism like my son can make and pass on and feel like a leader provider protector making it. Just priceless. I love the way you wrote your blog post. Thank you so much it empowers me even further.
We are not a cooked carrot kind of family because we don’t like them mushy. I found our years ago that if I grate the carrots into the soup we still get the flavor and vitamins without the mushiness. Plus, my family can no longer pick out the carrots. Win win for me!
This is right in my wheelhouse! I am becoming a leftovers revival expert. I love the challenge of turning meal remenants into a totally different food experience.
I was just thinking of what soup to put in the slow cooker tomorrow. This is it:-)
I’ll just use what I have & make my own “stone soup”. Now to whip up some bread to go with it. I’m thinking your honey whole grain rolls 😀
I made this for dinner last night. i used frozen peas instead of corn. i didn’t have the purée or canned tomatoes. And I used a can of black eyed peas. My family loved it. Even my onion hater!
Yay! I love to hear success stories. See? Lots of variations will work.
I tend to do more of the heavily vegetable soups, sometimes with poultry sometimes without. I don’t generally have those little bits of leftovers to dump into soup, since there are only two of us to start with, and I will do a “bizarre but cleared out fridge” meal whenever little bits start to build up. I do, however, clear out the veggie drawer! Rough chops, dump in crockpot, simmer all day, eat and enjoy. In my experience, a really good stock/broth makes a big difference.
Creamy tomato soup can be quite good, too. Last time, I used V8 instead of plain tomato juice (it was on sale) and I liked it but the kid was less than impressed, so back to using plain juice next time. I have a crab and sweet corn chowder I’m really looking forward to making soon.
I’m in a soup mood these days–in fact, I wrote my own Stone Soup post recently!
Last winter I started making homemade soups and found that they do taste so much better that canned. I freeze small bits of leftovers (not enough for another serving) and then perioidically get them out and toss them in some homemade stock. (like Jessica, I make it and freeze it from other meals like roast chicken bones or from crockpot meals.) I find that the following are good to flavor “leftovers” soup: italian seasoning blend, garlic and minced onion, cajun seasoning blend, and taco seasoning ( great for a southwest style soup with beans, corn, and tomoto products).