Simple Soup Recipes to See You Through the Holidays

As the thermometer sinks below the frost mark, nothing sounds as enticing as a big bowl of hot soup. This ultimate comfort food can be nutritious, healthful, and cost pennies per serving to produce—which could also mean more for your gift budget.

What’s more, a simple soup can be homemade in less time than watching a Seinfeld re-run, can serve an army, and can be frozen for quick meals for weeks to come.

The Simplicity Of Soup

Most soups start with a fat, some vegetables, and a liquid. Cook's choice: oil, butter, lard, bacon fat, or duck fat will coat chopped carrots, celery, and onion. Once this holy trio begins to tender, liquid is added…and voila—soup!

Employ Your Creative License

That stripped-down recipe grows into thousands of different combinations. The choice of water, or some sort of stock as the liquid, is the first decision to make. Draft ingredients such as garlic, peppers, tomatoes, fresh herbs (to be put in at the end of cooking), meat, grains, and pasta. As many foods as you can think of—that’s how many options you have when making soup. But remember not to be too obsessive about measuring these ingredients! Soup is truly a pot of tidbits.

Soup Essentials

There are three basic types of soup: broth based (think chicken soup), pureed (akin to cream of broccoli), and bean/legume (like black bean). The first two can be made as quickly as you can chop the ingredients, plus a little simmering time. Bean soups take a bit more planning, as you may need to soak the beans overnight. Keep in mind that bean soups and purees tend to thicken when they get cold. Don’t be shy about adding more liquid until you reach a desired consistency.

Goldie’s Trade Secrets

1. When you finish a hunk of parmesan cheese, keep the rind wrapped in your fridge. When you make a soup with tomatoes, throw the rind in with the liquid to simmer. Just remember to fish it out before serving.

2. Count bay leaves and any other additions that need to be taken out of a soup before pureeing.

3. Add a little wine, vinegar, or even bourbon to vegetables before adding simmering liquid, to both deglaze the pan and to give soup a little punch on your palate.

4. Cut vegetables uniformly so they cook evenly. The smaller the chop, the quicker the soup cooks.

5. Soup tastes better the next day…and the next. Make your soup a couple of days before you want to eat it for optimal flavor.

Store Soup Effectively

If you’re like me, you’ll make soup in a big ol’ pot (like an 8-quart tub). Be safe and cool the finished product in shallow containers…or in an ice bath to bring the soup down to room temperature before putting it in the fridge or freezer. To freeze, use plastic pint or quart containers. If you’re really tight on space, zip-close baggies (for thick purees and bean soups). To reheat, run frozen “soup pop” under warm water until it pops out of the storage container. Reheat on a low setting.

Here are a few of my favorite soup recipes:

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Tell us in the comments: What's your favorite soup?

  • Anonymous

    Readers, what is your favorite soup? Mine is butternut squash soup, in the colder months. Mmm. Wishing I had some right now!

    • Marnie

      My friend’s mom makes pumpkin soup at Thanksgiving, and it’s delicious!

    • sweet potato puree soup with bell peppers and onions. it was my first experience clipping a recipe and cooking it, and i was not disappointed!

  • Anonymous

    Does chili count as a soup?

    • DG

      In my brain, soup is “liquid based” where as chili is meat/bean based…but if you want to count chili as soup because it’s hot, comforting, can be made in big batches and is satisfying, I’ll have a bowl!

      • Boots1807

        Wow, vegetarian chili sounds so good right now!

      • Anonymous

        Agreed, I’m pretty much addicted to turkey chili!

  • Anonymous

    I want to try to make the first one, but what is Smotz?

    • DG

      Smoltz is chicken fat…but any fat will do to start- oil, butter, duck fat, bacon fat…

      • Anonymous

        Debbie, I had some of that once at Sammy’s Roumanian in the East Village. Quite an experience!

        • DG

          Quite an experience…that is an intersting comment. Was it like eating head cheese and then finding out what that is?rnI am a proponent of using animal fat when making soup. It imparts so much flavor with no extra calories. Personally, I have a big tub of duck fat in my fridge and use it instead of oil and butter in much of my cooking.

      • Perhaps

        I think you mean schmaltz…

        • DG

          Thank you! You’re right…I just can’t spell!

  • Judy Rodgers

    If you are going to post recipes, please add the nutritional information.

    • Hi Judy,nnThanks for that great suggestion. To the extent that it’s possible, we try to include a sense of how healthy a recipe is and why. Nonetheless, please note that Deborah herself makes up these recipes and actually test-cooks them at home before writing each post. As a result, for an individual chef, I imagine it’s significantly harder to provide an exact nutritional count. Whenever possible, though, I’ll see what we can do about providing some rough estimations to use as a guideline. nnIf you’re interested in healthy recipes, we also have a bunch of posts with recipes that are specifically for the health-conscious among us. Have you been able to check those out?nnThanks for reading,nnAllisonnEditor, LV

  • Judy Rodgers

    If you are going to post recipes, please add the nutritional information.