When the leaves start falling from the trees and we feel a nip in the air, most of us begin to crave hearty, cozy foods. What cold-weather fare comforts and warms the soul more than soup? It's the perfect belly-warmer for those low temps, and just holding a hot mug of the concoction thaws out chilled hands.
Another benefit of soup is that it's easy to make and requires minimal prep time. You can stir up a big batch of your favorite recipe, eat some now and freeze some for later. A simmering pot of soup fills the house with a mouth-watering aroma, and it actually does provide some medicinal benefits, in addition to vitamins and nutrients, when we're sick. What's not to love?
On the next few pages, you'll find 10 of our favorite, simple homemade soups.
Because we're starting off with a fancy-sounding soup, you might be getting a little worried about the "simple" part of this article's title. But fear not -- crab bisque is really easy to make at home. It's not exactly diet-friendly, but it's sure to impress your guests. Just sauté some onions, then gently simmer with broth, crabmeat, half-and-half and tomatoes for a few minutes. Garnish this gourmet dish with a few ribbons of basil.
Roasted Red Pepper Soup
Most of us probably only think about making soups during the winter when it's chilly and wet outside, but it can be just as satisfying when it's served chilled in the summertime. Roasting the peppers in this red pepper soup might take a while, but it's well worth the effort. Once all the ingredients are cooked, just purée everything together in a blender or food processor and then chill it for a few hours before serving. You can also forgo the fridge and eat this soup warm in the winter.
You can use the fresh or canned variety to make pumpkin soup. If you use canned, make sure you don't buy pumpkin pie filling by mistake! If you decide to go with fresh, you'll want to roast the pumpkin first and then dice the cooked, peeled flesh. From there, it's up to you. You can flavor your soup with things like maple syrup, garlic, ginger, curry, onions or apple. After everything is puréed, add a bit of half-and-half for some additional richness or top with a dollop of sour cream.
Tomato soup is another incredibly versatile recipe that you can alter to fit your mood (or whatever's in your pantry). You can use fresh, canned or even sun-dried tomatoes, and a slew of herbs pair well with this classic, including dill, basil, thyme, parsley and even oregano. You can leave your soup chunky, or blend it up if you want a smooth consistency for dipping your grilled cheese into.
Egg Drop Soup
Egg drop soup is a Chinese restaurant staple, but it's so easy to make at home. In fact, it'd probably be faster to whip up a batch in your own kitchen than it would be to call for delivery. Just gather up some chicken broth, soy sauce, cornstarch, green onions and few beaten eggs (or use egg substitute). It all gets simmered and stirred together, and the green onions go on top when you're ready to serve. If you need a Chinese food fix, it's a whole lot easier (and figure-friendlier) than kung pao chicken.
French Onion Soup
French onion soup is hearty comfort food. It has everything you might crave on a cold evening -- crusty bread, melted cheese, a rich broth and sweet, caramelized onions. The hardest part about making this dish is slicing up all those onions, so get ready for a good cry! Once all the ingredients have simmered together, top each crock of soup with a thick slice of crunchy French bread and then melt Gruyere cheese on top until it's bubbly and gooey. Yum!
Garden Vegetable Soup
Think of vegetable soup as an "everything but the kitchen sink" meal: It's great for cleaning out the fridge, freezer and pantry. Make it hearty or light; keep it vegetarian or not -- it's up to you. Onions, carrots, turnips, celery, leeks, zucchini, squash, tomatoes and potatoes are all excellent in vegetable soup. Just sauté the veggies, add stock, broth or water (and a splash of wine if you want), season with your favorite herbs and spices and simmer everything until the vegetables are tender. Serve with cornbread or biscuits for soaking up all those yummy juices.
Mexican Tortilla Soup
This is another recipe you might've thought was a restaurant-only specialty, but Mexican tortilla soup is a cinch to whip up at home. Chicken, veggies and broth make up the base, and garlic, oregano, cumin, cilantro and jalapeños give the soup a nice kick. And for this dish's signature crunchy topping, you can use bagged chips, or cut up some fresh tortillas and toast them in the oven. Olé!
White Bean Soup
Sometimes called Tuscan bean soup, this white bean dish is rich and hearty with an Italian flair. The beans give you a good dose of protein and iron, and this soup freezes exceptionally well. Some recipes call for cannellini beans, some for Great Northern beans and some for white navy beans, but you can use them interchangeably. Many recipes call for starting with dried beans, which are more traditional and economical, but canned beans work equally well; just give them a quick rinse to remove extra sodium before adding them to the pot.
Chicken Noodle Soup
If there's a soup more traditional than chicken noodle, we don't know what it is! And it turns out that a hot bowl of this goodness really does help to relieve the symptoms of a cold -- the steam works to open blocked nasal passages while the warm broth soothes a sore throat and helps prevent dehydration.
Using a whole bird tends to give soup much more flavor, but you can prepare your batch with the meat of a precooked rotisserie chicken from the grocery store or whatever pieces of the poultry you might have on hand. Toss in the noodles during last few minutes of cooking time so they don't get mushy, or skip the pasta and add matzo balls instead. Either way, it'll be delicious.
Home Made Simple recipes are tasty dishes that even the most amateur cook can prepare. Try these deliciously simple recipes from the Home Made Simple.
- Bernstein, Lisa, M.D. "When I have a cold, are there certain foods that might help me feel better sooner?" ABC News. Sept. 25, 2008. (Jan. 23, 2012) http://abcnews.go.com/Health/ColdandFluQuestions/story?id=5678021
- Digital Deli Online. "Campbell's Soup." (Jan. 23, 2012) http://www.digitaldeliftp.com/LookAround/advertspot_campbells.htm
- Food Reference. "Cannellini Beans." (Jan. 23, 2012) http://www.foodreference.com/html/fcannellinibeans.html
- Kirby, Jane. "Avgolemono (Greek Lemon-Egg Soup)." Real Simple. April 2003. (Jan. 23, 2012) http://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/browse-all-recipes/avgolemono-greek-lemon-egg-soup-10000000659304/index.html