I have been trying to eat more soup lately, at least for one meal a day. When I’m feeling a little under the weather and rundown, which seems to be the norm this winter, nothing hits the spot like a bowl of soup. Soup is also filling and an easy way to sneak in lots of veggies.
But it can seem like a chore to make a pot of soup, especially in the middle of a busy day. With just a little planning, though, I can turn leftover cooked meat, vegetables, and pasta or rice into a quick soup anytime.
The most important part of the soup is its base, the stock. A rich, satisfying, full-bodied soup requires a homemade stock. Making stock ahead of time is easy to do. Just let a big pot simmer away while doing other things around the house or, better yet, break out the slow cooker. Here is my method for making stock.
I usually make chicken stock on a Sunday afternoon. After cooling it in the refrigerator, I freeze it in two-cup containers. In the evening, I pop a container of frozen stock into the fridge to defrost overnight, and I’m all ready to make a bowl of soup for lunch the next day. (Defrost more containers if cooking for more than one person.)
When it comes time to make lunch, I compose the soup out of anything I find in the fridge that is either already cooked or will cook quickly. Of course, I make sure that the flavors are well-matched, too. I usually stick to five or fewer ingredients for a simple, nourishing soup. Here are some ideas for what to add:
- any cooked meat, shredded or sliced small
- diced bacon, crisped in the soup pot before adding the stock
- leftover cooked vegetables
- fresh greens, such as spinach or bok choy
- canned or fresh tomatoes, diced
- canned or cooked beans, rinsed
- boiled or roasted potatoes
- cooked pasta or rice
Heat 2 cups of stock per person in a large pot over medium. Add the ingredients and let cook at a low simmer for 10-15 minutes to heat through. Finish the soup with a swirl of olive oil, a pat of butter or a sprinkling of grated cheese, plus salt and pepper to taste. Serve with bread or crackers.