Thursday Night Soup – Waste Less and Eat Well

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites. We participate in other affiliate programs as well. For more details, please see our disclosure policy.

Enjoy an easy dinner with Thursday Night Soup. It makes good use of whatever you have in the kitchen so that you waste less and eat well.

Thursday Night Soup | Life as Mom

I’ve been making soup from leftovers for a very long time. Ever since I read the book, A Feast of Soups twenty years ago. There are very few recipes that I actually use, but it is an all-around fantastic soup education. I received it as a bridal shower gift and it is a keeper, though it’s copyrighted 1982. Some of the ingredients and language in the book are a tad outdated, but the soup instruction is timeless.

You DO read the beginning chapters of your cookbooks, right? I mean cookbook authors, ahem, spend time writing those for a reason. You would be surprised — it’s almost like a mini cooking class in those beginning sections.

Anyway, I learned how to make soup from leftovers thanks to reading A Feast of Soups. It was a game changer. No longer did I need to find ways to pawn off leftovers on my husband and kids; I just mixed them into soup. Thursday Night Soup, adapted from the soup book you should go buy cheap used and learn about soup making, is a great starter soup for using up whatcha got.

By the way, it’s called Thursday Night Soup because traditionally workers were paid on Friday and so by Thursday night, you’d be using up whatever you had.

Thursday Night Soup | Life as Mom

Here’s a a peek at some leftovers and pantry staples that went into a version of Thursday Night Soup: cooked sausage, rice, sauteed vegetables, gravy, chicken stock, frozen peas, an onion, a can of tomato paste, and fresh basil. I try to choose leftovers with flavor profiles that go together. These all worked fabulously.

How to make this good and cheap:

Here are some of the strategies you can use to make this recipe even more economical:

How I make this recipe easy:

This recipe really couldn’t be easier than it is, but having the right kitchen tools can really make your time in the kitchen more enjoyable. Over time, I’ve honed my collection so that they are perfect for my needs.

Here are the tools that I use for this recipe:


Thursday Night Soup | Life as Mom

0 from 0 votes
Thursday Night Soup
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
25 mins
Total Time
35 mins

Enjoy an easy dinner with Thursday Night Soup. It makes good use of whatever you have in the kitchen so that you waste less and eat well.

Course: Soup
Cuisine: American
Keyword: soup recipes
Servings: 12 servings
Calories: 66 kcal
Author: Jessica Fisher
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 4 cups water or stock of your choice
  • one 6-ounce can tomato paste or 8-ounce can tomato sauce
  • salt and pepper
  • bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon dried herb of your choice
  • 1 to 2 cups leftovers such as cooked and chopped vegetables, meats, rice, noodles, potatoes, etc.
  • 1 to 2 cups additional liquids such as vegetable juice, gravy, wine, cream, drippings from a roast, etc.
  1. In a large stockpot over medium heat, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the onion and sauce until clear, 7 to 10 minutes.
  2. Stir in the water or stock and the tomato paste, whisking until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste as well as the bay leaf and dried herb. Cook 5 minutes, uncovered.
  3. Stir in the leftovers and additional liquids. Cook for 10 minutes or until heated through. Adjust the seasonings and serve hot.
Recipe Notes

Nutrition Facts were calculated using water (not stock) and gravy. 

Nutrition Facts
Thursday Night Soup
Amount Per Serving
Calories 66 Calories from Fat 36
% Daily Value*
Fat 4g6%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Cholesterol 14mg5%
Sodium 219mg10%
Potassium 185mg5%
Carbohydrates 5g2%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 2g2%
Protein 4g8%
Vitamin A 221IU4%
Vitamin C 4mg5%
Calcium 13mg1%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Originally published December 4, 2008. Updated July 24, 2017.

Thursday Night Soup | Life as Mom

About Jessica Fisher

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

Subscribe to Good Cheap Eats
Read Newer Post
Read Older Post


  1. Colleen says

    Love your ideas, I’ve been doing things like this for many years during the lean times. Sometimes my now adult kids remember soup in the good china or the wonderful waffles with canned fruit. Life is funny , they never remember little money

  2. Natalie says

    Thank you for sharing sounds yummy!

  3. Margery Hilburn says

    I wonder why you exclude ham from the list of meats to add. I make hambone soup after we have eaten all the Christmas ham, and it allows us to use up every scrap of meat on the hambone. Ham in soup is wonderful.

    • Jessica Fisher says

      I would agree. As I mentioned in the headnotes, this is adapted from my favorite soup cookbook with my edits. This was the recommendation by the author because depending on the ham it may or may not add to the soup.

  4. Kathleen says

    Made this last night with leftovers from our fridge–it was excellent! It felt so good to be able to serve the family a hearty soup on a cold winter’s night knowing that it was so frugal. I am definitely adding this into the regular rotation. So many of your recipes are in there already. Many thanks!

    • Jessica Fisher says

      Great to hear! Thanks.

  5. Betty P says

    When I have leftover vegis from meals, I add them to a baggie I keep in the freezer. Even if it’s just a spoonful, I add it. When I’m in the mood for soup or stew, I have the vegsi ready. It saves time and money.

  6. Vanessa Ball says

    Leftover gravy in soup?!? GENIUS!!! Why didn’t I think of that? This has opened up so many new soup possibilties

  7. Joyce says

    Any ideas on what I can do with a lot of homemade left over chili? There is just the two of us and I have so many leftovers no matter how I try not to. I feel so guilty throwing out anything. Sadly I have to really work at cooking. Sigh…….. Sometimes I feel like I am drowning when it comes to cooking. That is why I admire you so much in all your wonderful gifts. I stand amazed how you do it all on a tight budget.

    • Thanks for your kind words. You can do this, too. I’m sure of it. Leftover chili: serve it over rice, roll it up in burritos, freeze it in smaller containers so you can use just a little to use as a dip, stir into soup, or top hot dogs. If you’re making it from scratch, I would divide it into smaller containers right away, chill, and freeze. Your freezer can help you use it up without getting bored. Hope that helps!

    • Roberta says

      It’s good on baked potatoes as well.

    • Lara says

      Leftover chili can also be a great base for nachos!

  8. Roberta says

    Yum! I can’t wait until it gets cool enough to really enjoy soups. We love homemade soup around here.

  9. Brenda says

    It’s amazing how serving up a homemade bread to the family with a Thursday soup makes it go over well. Love the idea of using the china as well!

  10. Lizzy says

    I call this Stone Soup because I think it follows the ideas of the folktale by the same name. I always love the soups I make with leftovers and/or whatever I can find in the house. Plus, soup is usually a winner with everybody at my table. I can even invite extra people by finding extra goodies to serve (soup ingredients, bread, salad, or a simple dessert).

    • Yes, very much like the story. I have a couple different versions over on Good Cheap Eats. One is even called Stone Soup. 😉

  11. Cecile says

    I’ve Started reading your blog around the time this was originally posted. I followed you until about 2014, and made dozens and dozens of pots of Thursday Soup. Then life happened. After a nasty divorce and some time alone I had gotten away from your blog for almost 3 years.

    Then today, in a new relationship, I introduced my SO to Thursday soup because it was our first cool day of the fall. After dinner, snuggling by the fire, I decided to look into your blog again. Who woulda thunk I would see this here. Very serendipitous! Glad to catch back up.

    • Hey! Welcome back! How wonderful that you’re getting a fresh start in so many ways. I am thrilled to hear that this soup has continued to bring comfort!

  12. Ruth Newquist says

    I will put Tupperware box in the freezer. At the end of supper, I will add the leftovers to the box, veggies with their liquid, meat, gravy etc. When the box gets full, I make soup out of it.

Share Your Thoughts