How to make soup from any ingredients: a foolproof guide
The beauty of soup – besides the all-important comfort factor – is its lack of limits. Got some veg? Got water or stock? Spices in the cupboard? Some beans or bread? Boom: you’ve got the makings of a hearty soup – you just need to apply a few golden rules. Follow our step-by-step guide for guaranteed soup success, whatever ingredients you have to hand.
Once you’ve mastered the basics, you can create any soup recipe you put your mind to!
So you’ve got the ingredients together and are ready to make a cracking batch of homemade soup. Follow these simple rules and you simply can’t go wrong…
How to start any soup
In a pan, heat butter and/or oil.
How to create the base of any soup
Add chopped onion, celery, carrot and leek (and garlic, if you like) to the pan of butter/oil. Season and cook gently.
Which flavourings to add
Now it’s time to add the herbs and spices: bay, thyme and/or rosemary for hearty soups; ground cumin, coriander and ginger for spicy soups; saffron for fish soups.
Do you want your soup veggie?
If yes: Add vegetable stock/water and your main soup ingredients: for example chopped vegetables such as leeks, squash, mushrooms, carrots etc.
If no: Add chicken or fish stock and your choice of vegetables. Add cooked, shredded meat/chicken or raw fish towards the end of cooking.
How to make your soup thicker
Add tinned beans, lentils, stale bread, pasta, pearl barley, potatoes or rice. Simmer until tender.
How to make your soup smoother
Whizz with a stick blender just before serving. Voila! You’ve just graduated soup school.
Want to take things up a notch? Here are five ways to jazz up your soup…
1. Season twice
Do it once at the beginning, then taste and season again at the end. If you’re using stock cubes, rather than fresh stock, be aware that these can be saltier. Tasting a little dull? Add brightness with a squeeze of lemon or lime juice or dash of vinegar.
2. Fry the veg properly
The longer and more gently you fry the veg for the base, the more flavoursome the end result will be. Don’t let them burn, though, or the soup will taste bitter.
3. Make it thicker
Add 2 tbsp flour to the fried base and cook over a low heat for a few minutes before adding the stock, stirring continuously. To thicken the soup towards the end of cooking, stir through mashed potato or ground almonds.
4. Add some bite
Hold back a small amount of the main ingredient, then fry the pieces and scatter over at the end for extra texture.
5. Finish with style
Go for something crunchy (such as croutons or toasted nuts) for smooth soups. Add a swirl of double cream to chunky soups, and sprinkle over spice (such as paprika) or soft herbs to perk up milder soups.
In need of some flavour inspiration? Take a look at our collection of colourful mood-boosting soups.