Confession time. For me, soup season lasts all year long. It is my favorite thing to both cook and eat. The approaching cooler weather means my soup habits are once again socially acceptable! In honor of soup season, I have compiled some of my favorite hacks to make your next soup a success:
Take a Shortcut to Success
Will your soup taste better if you start with a bone broth you made yourself and then simmered for hours with meats and veggies you hand chopped? Maybe, but don’t let that stop you!
While I am known to snag the turkey carcass from my family’s Thanksgiving, I am equally likely to use the Better Than Bouillon base that I keep in my fridge. It takes up less space in my pantry than boxes of broth and is easy to use. I will add it to the pot after I sauté the vegetables and then add water. No need to mix beforehand.
I also keep some other flavor punches on hand. A few of my go-to staples: liquid smoke, Thai curry paste (both green and red), and green chili sauce.
Blending Veggies is a Win-Win
This might be by far my favorite hack! Despite being good eaters, my kids will pick certain things out of their soup, such as onions or zucchini. If I blend them into the soup, however, they often go undetected!
Years ago, a friend taught me a tomato soup recipe I like better than the can I grew up with. Chop one onion and a carrot or two and sauté until they soften. Add a teaspoon of chicken bouillon, a can of diced tomatoes with juice and water to cover the veggies. Let simmer until the vegetables are fully cooked. Blend until smooth. Ideas to mix it up: add some green chili (you can even get canned tomatoes with green chili), add Italian seasonings, or a splash of cream or half and half.
Blending part of a soup gives it more body as well as hiding offensive ingredients. If it is supposed to have a cream base, I turn to a trick learned years ago. Cook a bag of frozen riced cauliflower and blend until smooth with a couple of tablespoons of butter, a cup or so of milk, and whatever seasonings fit the soup. Blend that up and then add it at the end of cooking. This trick also works for an easy alfredo type sauce for pasta!
Shake It Up with a New Ingredient
This has been key to having my family accept my frequent soup offerings. I change up one or two ingredients, and the soup becomes something completely different! A basic chicken soup recipe (try Danielle’s winning formula!) can turn into so much more. We love adding coconut milk, soy sauce and lime juice and using rice noodles for a Thai-inspired chicken soup. We sometimes replace the chicken with pinto beans, adding salsa and replacing the noodles with tortilla chips. Adding quinoa gives extra protein and texture to a simple soup.
Use Your Freezer
I often make way more soup than we can eat at once, and even though it always tastes better the next day, I frequently still have more than my family will eat. Use silicone muffin liners to freeze in small portions and throw in a freezer bag. Then you can easily pull out the right amount for a quick lunch! I also have found food storage containers that freeze the soup in a block that fits in my instant pot (a lifesaver in my kitchen) and I add the frozen block and a cup of water, set for 5 minutes and dinner is ready!
Another favorite trick is to collect leftover veggies from meals in the freezer. Once I have a good amount, I will add them to some broth and then blend with a little butter and milk for a “cream of vegetable” type soup. This is made extra delicious with a sprinkle of croutons on top.
Dress it up with Toppings and Sides
Even the most boring of soups becomes special with a good topping or a buttered roll next to it!
I make split pea or lentil soup often (celery and carrots, chicken broth and a bag of legumes cooked until they start to break down. Easiest and cheapest meal ever!) and we dress it up different ways. Sometimes, I slice hot dogs into coins and fry them in a pan. Sometimes we stir pesto or chimichurri into a simple soup for a delicious update. My kids get excited for a toppings bar to go with chicken tortilla soup.
I hope these tips give you a renewed excitement for soup season this fall!