When the air starts to chill and the morning frost doesn’t fade, it’s soup season! There is perhaps no better meal that is as nourishing and nurturing as hot soup. It never fails to soothe what ails.
I’ve assembled a list of some of my favorite soups for body, mind, and soul. Plus they’re multicultural! I’m a vegetarian, so all of these adhere to my diet. You can of course de-vegify (newly made up word) by substituting broths or adding meat.
An extra note, I hardly follow recipes. Instead, I use them as inspiration or a guide when tossing everything together as a creative outlet. Here I explain how-to’s casually. I’ve provided some links (that I simply like and received no compensation for use) to the inspiration for those of you who prefer precision.
“Kitchen Sink” Soup
I call it kitchen sink because it’s a combination of whatever I have, “everything but the kitchen sink.” With a drizzle of oil in a pot over low-medium heat, I start with the 3 basics chopped: onion, carrot, and celery. If the soup is just for me or another person and myself, I’ll use about half of a white or yellow onion, 2-3 carrots depending on size, and a stalk of celery. Stir them so they don’t stick, and allow them to get heated and fragrant.
Next I’ll pour in a full 32 ounce carton of broth. Otherwise, 1 stock cube or 1/2 tablespoon of “better than” bouillon to 4 cups of water. The other day, I only had water. Plain water is fine, you’ll just have to season the soup a little heavier for flavor.
Now I’ll make some decisions about what else is going in the soup. I’ll use just about any vegetable I have especially if they’re on their last leg of freshness. 2 cubed potatoes make it hearty, halved brussel sprouts, collard greens, all the spinach because it shrinks, asparagus pieces, chopped broccoli or cauliflower, etc. I don’t recommend sweet potato because it will throw off the savory flavor. All of these can be incorporated now except the spinach. Spinach goes last because it wilts fast.
Season your soup to your taste with salt and pepper, maybe a shake or two of onion and garlic powder. A little turmeric makes it a powerhouse. Bring the soup to a bowl, then cover and simmer until vegetables are tender (I hate that word!).
Aside from the chopping all the vegetables, this soup is quick, easy, and simple. Personally, my two go-to versions of this soup are Chickpea Noodle and Peruvian Quinoa.
Chickpea Noodle is as it sounds, with chickpeas and some kind of pasta added. For pasta I’ll use Pastina, Ditalini (short tube-like pasta), Alphabets, or Wide Egg Noodles. You can cook the pasta in the soup simultaneously or cook it separately and add it when you serve. Separately keeps it “al-dente” rather than getting super soft sitting in the broth. Whatever you like!
Peruvian Quinoa comes from memory. I had it in Peru and make it from what I think I tasted in it. After I pour in the broth, I’ll add a tablespoon of tomato paste or 1/4 of a can of crushed tomatoes. It has potato in it and leafy greens. I cook about a serving of quinoa separately before adding it in. I don’t like to cook the quinoa in the soup because it has to absorb all of the liquid to cook. It’s too much of a nuisance to keep adding water and re-seasoning it. Salt and pepper suffice.
A healthy and hearty staple.
1 chopped white or yellow onion
1-2ish teaspoons of minced garlic
2 large carrots chopped
1 stalk of celery chopped
2 medium potatoes in small cubes
4 cups of vegetable broth (32oz carton)
1-2 servings of lentils (I usually use brown)
salt and pepper
rosemary, thyme, bay leaf, oregano
2 heaping handfuls of spinach
This starts the same as Kitchen Sink. Drizzle oil in a heated pot, then chopped onion goes in with minced garlic. Once they start to sweat, add chopped carrots, celery, and potatoes. Pour in the broth followed by the lentils. Season with salt and pepper. Add your herbs. Honestly, I don’t know what a bay leaf contributes, but it seems right to have one in there.
Bring the soup to a boil, then cover and simmer for about 25 minutes. The lentils may absorb some of the liquid, so add water and season accordingly. This soup is best a bit thicker and more like stew, so no need to go wild with the added water.
The best part about making this lentil soup is using the leftovers to make fritters. It’s a little messy but worth it. You can bake or pan fry these. I prefer pan-fry so I can supervise them.
Your leftover lentil soup
Topping: plain Greek yogurt, cucumber, dill, salt, lemon juice & minced garlic
Prepare a non-stick skillet with a good drizzle of oil. If baking, line a sheet pan with parchment paper, and preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Drain the broth from soup. Take a small handful of the lentil mixture and form it into a round patty. Too thick is trickier to cook, too thin is fragile. Try not to over-handle it or it won’t stick together. Lightly coat it in flour then garlic powder mixed in Panko breadcrumbs.
Bake for about 5 minutes each side. Ovens vary, so increase the time from there until they crisp up. Usually I pan-fry, so place the fritters on the skillet. Leave enough room between them so you can easily get the spatula in there for flipping and removal. On low-medium heat let the fritters fry. Once they get dark and crispier, flip.
If you can multitask while the fritters fry, make the tszatziki topping! Otherwise, wait until they’re done. Skin and dice a cucumber. Add it to plain Greek yogurt with some shakes of dill, salt, a strong squeeze of lemon, and about a teaspoon of minced garlic. Mix and taste. I keep adding garlic, salt, and lemon until it brings out the tang of the yogurt without it tasting like breakfast yogurt.
Spoon dollops of tszatziki on your fritters, and there you go!
Moroccan lentil soup is an earthy, “warmly” spiced version. Great for detox and immunity boosting because of the turmeric. I don’t make fritters with this one.
Same ingredients as original lentil soup but…
No herbs except oregano
cumin, paprika, smoked paprika, cinnamon, & turmeric
Your favorite plant-based milk (oat, cashew, almond, or just dairy)
sour cream or plain Greek yogurt (optional)
After your vegetables are in the pot, mix in the salt, pepper, and spices to your taste. I’m careful not to add too much cinnamon, and I don’t like a lot of cumin. You can always add more later. Add lentils and broth; bring to a boil then cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
Stir in a light stream of milk, the spinach, and a cap-full/strong squeeze of lemon juice. Top with a little sour cream or yogurt and I highly recommend the jalapeño! Warm naan bread really makes it cozy.
I find this recipe so simple that I follow it pretty closely. White bean soup begs for bread, so I linked one of my trusty crusty baguette recipes that is so quick your house will almost always smell of it baking. Bread baking is much more precise than cooking, so I hardly stray far from the exact measurements.
For Soup You Need:
2 1/2 to 3 cans of Cannellini Beans
2 cups of broth
rosemary, thyme, black pepper, crushed red pepper
Drain and rinse the beans. Drizzle oil in the pot and heat the minced garlic. If you use jarred minced garlic go 3-4 cloves, but fresh that you manually mince 2-3 cloves. Pour a large portion of the beans into a food processor to make a paste. I’ve skipped this step and instead used an immersion blender once all of the ingredients are cooking. Immersion blenders are quite possibly my most favorite kitchen gadget!
Toss everything in and bring to a boil. Then turn it down to low or remove the pot from the heat and immersion blend if you haven’t already. Simmer with the cover for about 15 minutes. Serve with your delicious baked bread!
Tomato Soup (with a twist!)
This soup can be ready quickly. I think it took me 10 minutes to assemble. I’m picky about tomato soup. It can’t taste like spaghetti o’s or marinara sauce. I serve it with homemade “grilled” cheese croutons. The first time, I accidentally used brioche bread because I had nothing else and now will use nothing else.
chopped yellow onion
28oz can of whole tomatoes
2 cups/half carton of veg broth
1/2 can of white cannellini beans, rinsed/drained
a little butter (optional but, you know, yum)
pinch of sugar
salt and pepper, crushed red
So spoiler, the “twist” is cannellini beans. I wish I thought of it myself because it’s brilliant. They make it a great consistency, and as a vegetarian, I love having the extra protein. Sneaky.
Drizzle that oil and in goes the onion over medium heat. I always eyeball the amount of tomato paste I use in anything. Here I use a heaping spoonful. Then the tomatoes which I pull apart a little in the pot with a fork and knife. I’ve used garden tomatoes, but they tend to make the soup more watery and very thin. If they’re in season, I cut up 2 for some sweet, fresh flavor.
After the broth goes in, I’ll toss in about 1/2 of a can of beans sometimes closer to a whole can depending on how I’ll feeling in the moment. Little bit of butter, pinch of sugar, salt, pepper, and a dash of crushed red pepper. Fresh basil is ideal, but loads of dry basil serves as a decent imposter.
Turn the heat to low and begin using an immersion blender to make it uniform. Immersion blenders make it so creamy there’s no need for actual cream. If you don’t have one, spoon portions of the soup into a food processor/regular blender.
Once it has become one, let it simmer for around 15ish minutes. Make those amazing croutons while you wait! If you can find a brioche loaf that isn’t pre-sliced, that is the easiest. Slice it horizontally and lay some cheese in between. Fontina and Emmental are rich and melt beautifully! Brush a little butter over the top of the bread, and if you’re feeling extra, lightly sprinkle with garlic powder. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 10-12 minutes or until melted through. You can broil too, but it might crisp the bread faster than melting the cheese. Either way keep an eye on it.
Cut your giant sandwich in cubes and plop on individual servings of soup. Fin!
This one is cloudy and fresh! The traditional Greek Lemon Orzo soup has chicken in it too. I’ve linked the vegan version, but I use one egg in it rather than the substitute equivalent of 2 eggs. The linked recipe also calls for 11 cups of water; I get by with 6. Actually, I change a few things.
The big three: onion, carrot, celery
veg broth (1 and 1/2 32oz cartons) or 6 cups of water with bouillon
3/4 cup of uncooked orzo
bay leaf, thyme, dill, salt, & pepper
Heat pot with oil drizzle and add big three. Pour in broth and bring to a boil. Peel the lemon to toss in the peels and herbs. Reduce heat, cover and cook for about 10 minutes. I leave the peels and herbs in there for maximum flavor when I incorporate the orzo. Let the orzo cook in the soup for it’s suggested time on the package (10 minutes).
Crack an egg in a bowl and whisk it. Ladle some soup into the bowl slowly while whisking so the soup and egg become smoothly one. Pour the egged soup back into the pot and stir. Squeeze lemon into the soup for extra flavor, then fish out the peels before serving.
A fun Mexican soup! Shout out to Uncle Tony for this one! I like to make this when I’m sick of chili but still want some of the same flavors. This soup is fantastic for parties! I’ve made big batches and then set out different accompaniments buffet style. It also meets most dietary needs.
poblano peppers (2 for a crowd)
2 cups of chopped onion
1/4 cup of olive oil
4 large chopped garlic cloves
1 tbsp of apple cider vinegar
oregano, cumin, salt, pepper, sugar
5 cups of veggie broth
1 (15 oz) can of diced fire roasted tomatoes
hominy (also labeled pozole or mote blanco)
kidney or pinto beans
2 pounds of zucchini (courgette) cut into 1/2 inch pieces
10 oz bag of frozen corn or 2 cups of fresh corn
Broil peppers until they’re blackened and the skin can be pulled off. Keep an eye and turn them occasionally! When done put them in a bowl with a lid tightly. Add oil to pot over medium heat, and sauté onion until golden. Pull the skin off the poblanos and de-seed them (or “accidentally” leave some hehe). Put them in a food processor with garlic, cider vinegar, herbs and spices, sugar and can of tomatoes. Blend until smooth.
Purée to pot and stir. After about 5 minutes comes the broth, beans, corn, and hominy. Say hominy 4 times. Bring to a boil, reduce, add zucchini, simmer partially covered until zucchini is tender. Stir occasionally and season to taste.
Let guests garnish their soups with with sausage, chili lime shrimp, grilled or broiled halibut/haddock, cilantro, scallions, avocado, radish, lime, shredded lettuce, tortilla chips, siracha or homemade salsa, and shredded cheddar. It’s fun to see how people build their bowls uniquely. Voila!
Polish Beet Soup (Borscht)
It’s thin, it’s tangy, it’s not blood in your poop. I sipped this at a Christmas market in Krakow and have yet to replicate it quite right. This winter—challenge accepted.
Cures hangovers like nothing else. I boil some plain ramen or udon noodles in it, and whoa. I don’t get anything for endorsing this product, but maybe I should…
Go restore your energy and treat yourself to these soups and snacks! A home-cooked meal might be just what you need. If you like this page, please share it.