How to Make Homemade Soup

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Homemade Soup can come to your rescue any night you need a quick meal. Simple and nourishing, soup is good food, especially when you make it yourself.

pot of creamy chicken noodle soup with ladle

Pictured: Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup

When I’m not sure what to make for dinner, especially in cooler months, I turn to homemade soup. 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 homemade soup recipes we love, like Broccoli Cheese Soup or Vegetable, Beef, and Barley Soup.

That wasn’t always the case, though. Back when I developed this recipe for Chicken Noodle Soup, my kids gave me very limited options for Soup Night. They were all so little and so fussy, I stuck with what worked.

Which was Chicken Noodle Soup on repeat.

Over time, I busted out and tried different flavor combinations on them. And won. Eventually.

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

woman's hand holding spoonful of bean soup next to bowl

Pictured: Smoky Bean Soup

What are the ingredients in soup?

Soups can vary in ingredients but almost anything can be added to soup. I’ve even seen recipes that call for lettuce!

That said, your standard soup ingredients include some kind of fat, like butter or oil, some aromatics — think onions, garlic, ginger — a flavorful broth or stock, and some vegetables and meat.

How do I make homemade soup?

The process of making homemade soup is not difficult or complicated, though I’m going to show you a very easy step-by-step process in a minute.

You’re basically going to combine flavorful liquid with things you enjoy eating like noodles, rice, vegetables, and chopped meats. You can very easily make soup from leftovers!

Adding garnishes like chopped fresh herbs or croutons can really make homemade soups feel special.

Can I use water instead of broth?

Yes! Using water is a very economical alternative to broth or stock, particularly if you have to buy commercial stocks instead of making your own.

Just be sure to add sufficient seasonings and to allow the soup to simmer so that the liquid is flavored by the ingredients you add in.

Some simple additions like tomato sauce, leftover gravy, or even a few splashes of soy sauce can enhance the flavor of a simple soup.

Can you freeze soup?

I love to freeze soup! I use these freezer-safe quart containers to freeze soup. They are the perfect size for lunches for 2 or 3 people and fit perfectly in a row in the door of my freezer.

I can decide on what kind of soup I want to reheat, run some warm water around the outside of the container to loosen it and plunk the frozen chunk of soup into my slow cooker. Since the food has already been cooked, it’s safe to let it reheat from frozen in the slow cooker.

It’s ready by lunchtime, making homemade soup one of my very favorite things to freeze.

woman stirring bowl of vegetable soup

Pictured: Easy Vegetable Soup

How to Make Homemade Soup

Here’s how to make homemade soup quickly and easily:

1. Assemble your tools.

The wonderful thing about homemade 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’ve made homemade soup on vacation in a little town in France with an itty-bitty, under-stocked kitchen without all my favorite tools and it came together just fine.

That said, here are some of my go-to homemade soup tools that make the process quick and simple:

2. 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 it’s nice and soft and beginning to brown, you’ll have a good idea what’s for dinner. (My paraphrase.)

This is so true for homemade 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. By the time the onions have done their thing, I know what I’m going to add next!

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.

Once you’ve got the aromatics sautéed, stir in your broth or stock.

homemade chicken stock in a mason jar

Pictured: Homemade Chicken Stock

3. Use good broth or stock.

Soup is really just flavored liquid with yummy things in it. So, it stands to reason that the liquid you use makes a huge difference in the flavor of your finished soup. You can use water, but make sure to add lots of flavorings, like spices, herbs, aromatics, and maybe tomato sauce.

For automatic flavor use a good quality stock or broth. 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 one day, I make two batches of chicken stock in the slow cooker and use the rich brown stock in homemade soup a day or two later. So good and practically free!

4. Add bits of meat and vegetables that you have on hand.

Add vegetables in the order of how long they need to cook. Potatoes take longer than peas, so add them early. The peas can wait until the end.

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. If they are uncooked proteins, you’ll obviously need to add them earlier to give them time to cook.

Not sure what to mix in? Check out this list of foods to stash in the freezer for a quick weeknight soup.

5. Be sure to taste and adjust the seasonings.

When you make homemade soup, you’ll find that it has nowhere near the saltiness of commercial, canned 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 easily make a homemade soup in less than 30 minutes, with or without a recipe. This recipe for Stone Soup is a great starting point if you want a little more guidance to making homemade soup without a recipe.

What’s YOUR favorite homemade soup to make?

How to Make Homemade Soup

About Jessica Fisher

I believe anyone can prepare delicious meals—no matter their budget.

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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.

  7. Lori Schuster says

    A quick tip that I use to make a beef veggie soup is high fiber low sodium V8 juice for part of my broth just add your spices,a protein and veggies. You are good to go in less than 30 minutes!

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