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

By Alice K. Thompson, October 18, 2013  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Alice K. Thompson

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.

Homemade Vegetable BrothHearty Minestrone Soup

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.

Red Beans and Rice SoupMiso Soup with Shrimp and Broccoli

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.

Category: Food & Recipes




Amy Durfee West says ...
Most of the time, you don't need to add vegetable (or other) broth. The vegetables, especially the aromatics, in the recipe supply plenty of flavor. If you make your own vegetable broth, consider a few techniques that boost flavor: (a) Roast the vegetables, then simmer them in lightly salted water, (b) leave on skins, especially onion, garlic and potato (3) add some legumes to your vegetable broth, especially brown lentils or yellow split peas, and (4) go easy on the carrots, which can make the broth too sweet, and on any kind of brassica (broccoli, cabbage, kale, etc.), which can make the broth too bitter. Don't overcook brassicas--add them last.. A vegetarian cookbook from olden days even has a recipe for potato peel broth. Vegetable broth should be cooked very gently. A slow cooker is ideal. You can freeze broth in an ice tray. The little cubes thaw quickly.
10/18/2013 11:10:06 PM CDT
marilyn harper says ...
The 365 split green peas make a great soup that is quick and easy. Toss in some diced carrots, parsley, and a diced potato and soup is ready in very little time. Your brand is the best!
10/23/2013 10:51:37 PM CDT
ging963 says ...
Good .
10/30/2013 4:49:46 PM CDT
larouge says ...
I just purchased the whole wheat alphabet vegetable soup and the wild rice vegetable soup mixes in the bulk area of the whole foods store. I purchased them for the ingredients but i am not sure how to use the mixes. Do i just add them to the soup I make? Is there spices in them already? How much do i use? Confused and hope someone can help me.
01/05/2015 11:27:28 AM CST
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@LAROUGE - Since our bulk vendors differ, I would give the store a call where you purchased the soup to have them let you know the cooking instructions. They will be happy to help!
01/05/2015 1:22:59 PM CST