Whole Story

The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog

Ready, Set, Soup: Essential Ingredients to Have on Hand

Whether rich and luxurious or simple and sustaining, soup is one of the most popular meals on the planet. It’s my go-to lunch three seasons of the year, often consisting of no more than a variety of leftovers from the fridge anchored by a flavorful broth and spiked with a shot of hot sauce. Delicious!

What ingredients make for an excellent soup? A selection of seasonal vegetables are always a hit, as are hearty whole grains and a variety of fresh (or leftover!) proteins. Beyond that, here are my top suggestions for outfitting your pantry.

Great broth — Most soups are anchored by a stock or broth, and one with depth of flavor (not just a lot of salt) is key. Buy a quality one, or simmer up a batch of your own. Try an easy chicken or mushroom broth, or our versatile Homemade Vegetable Broth

Beans — Beans are one of those can’t-miss additions to soups. They’re packed with protein, and their creamy texture and earthy flavor is spot-on for everything from a refined purée to a rustic, chunky meal-in-a-bowl. We feature two types of beans in our Hearty Minestrone Soup.

Lentils — They’re some of the world’s most famous soup stars, and with good reason: Just add water and your favorite seasonings and you could have a pot of thick, nourishing soup in around 30 minutes. This Turkish Red Lentil Soup is one of the best of its kind.

Potatoes — Not only do they add flavor and texture, potatoes also act as a natural thickener to give soups great body and mouth feel. They feature prominently in the wildly popular Cheddar, Corn and Potato Chowder.

Coconut — The luscious nut continues its current dominance of just about everything culinary, and soups are no exception. Use coconut milk as a dairy-free enrichment for chowders, try coconut water as an alternative to stock or broth, and use grated coconut as a garnish. Coconut, Carrot and Chickpea Soup reaps flavor from both coconut oil and coconut milk.

Frozen vegetables — A good selection of quality, frozen veggies are ideal to fall back on when you’re in a pinch. Hearty greens, sweet-corn kernels, bell peppers and okra are all winners. This satisfying recipe uses frozen collards deliciously: Red Beans and Rice Soup.

Miso — This rich, savory, umami-packed paste mixes with water or broth to produce a wonderful base for soups. It’s outstanding for imparting depth of flavor to light soups like our Miso Soup with Shrimp and Broccoli.

Fun garnishes — I love toasted pumpkin seeds, grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, fresh herbs, flavored oils or a cool dollop of Greek yogurt on my soups. I also can’t resist deliciously crunchy croutons.

How do you stock your pantry for your favorite soups? Share you cooking tips and shopping suggestions in the comments section below.