Easy Soup Recipes When You’re Low on Groceries


It’s soup season! The weather is chilly, our schedules are too busy to make anything else, and soup is great for leftovers. Plus, I have full confidence in all of you that you can whip up some delicious meals with my easy soup recipes and a few helpful tips that I’m about to share with you. As a chef and a mom, soups are on constant rotation in my home. 

And guess what? You don’t even need to follow a complicated recipe or have any fancy cooking skills or kitchen gadgets! I’m going to share with you my basic soup formula and some easy soup recipes you can pull together on the fly when you have basically nothing left in your fridge.

a blue bowl with soup on a placemat with spoons and bread

Help! I don’t know what to make for dinner!

I say this to myself regularly. Even as a chef, meal planning and prepping get pushed aside when caring for my little ones. But at the end of the day, we still need to eat dinner. Every day! And honestly, my favorite sort of meal is one that I can pull together in little to no time at any time during the day (i.e. naptime!)

You’ve decided you need an easy dinner recipe and I’m here to say that a warm and comforting soup will fit the bill. And it’s going to be homemade, and delicious, and the kids are going to love it.

assortment of cooking ingredients like vegetables and dried noodles to make soup

What You Need

You will need something to cook the soup in (a stock pot or dutch oven). And honestly, that’s it. We’re going to try and make this soup without making a huge mess in the kitchen, too.

The Building Blocks of Making Easy Soup

Here are the things that I suggest you always keep on hand for any quick dinner (not just soups!):

  • Cooking fat: olive oil, avocado oil, ghee, butter, etc.
  • Onions: Ideally carrots and celery, too, but you can do a lot with just onions.
  • Stock: Vegetable, chicken, or beef. You can buy it or you can make it at home really easily. 

And here are the rest of the ingredients you’ll need to make your easy homemade soup.

First, you need to check out your fridge. 

What’s going on in there? Are there chicken leftovers from last night? Do you have some cut-up veggies that are on the brink of going bad? Are there any salad greens that need to be eaten? What about leftover noodles or rice from a previous meal?

Take all of that out of your fridge. I suggest using 3-5 ingredients per soup, but again, this is your custom easy soup, so you add as few or as many as you’d like.

Second, take a look at the pantry. 

You’re looking for any canned (or frozen) items that you might want to use in your soup to add more nutrition or protein or flavor. Beans, diced tomatoes, and diced vegetables are great examples.

Is there any rice in there? Barley? Farro is another fave and cooks pretty quickly. What about noodles? Grab some of those, too, if you like to add starch to your soups and you didn’t already have any leftovers in your fridge.

a saucepot with red colored broth being poured out of a wooden ladle

How to Cook the Soup

The steps for making soup using my easy soup recipes are very basic and will essentially be the same every time. Once you learn how to build this soup you can branch out with different ingredients or spices, if you want. 

  1. Heat a little bit (about 1 tablespoon) of your cooking fat in the pot. Then, add your base ingredients that will develop the flavor of the soup. These are things like minced garlic, diced onions, carrots, and/or celery (aim for about 1 cup combined total of these ingredients). Cook them until they get soft and smell amazing.
  2. Then add in anything else that needs to be cooked. This will be things like a few uncooked chicken breasts, one pound of ground beef, or one can of drained and rinsed beans. You can also add raw vegetables like potatoes, squash, sweet potatoes, etc., and aim for a combined total of about 2 cups of these vegetables plus 1-2 cups of meat or beans.)
  3. Now is a good time to season the soup ingredients with some salt and pepper.
  4. Next, add your stock. A one-quart container of stock plus 3 cups of veggies and 1-2 cups of protein creates enough soup to feed 4-5 people. The soup can simmer for 10 minutes or 2 hours. Once you make sure all your raw ingredients are cooked, cooking time is up to how much time you have!
  5. Lastly, finish the soup. Just before serving, you can stir in fresh herbs or lettuce greens (yes, even spring mix would work in a soup!) and any other seasonings that you like.
  6. Always taste the soup (focusing on the broth) before serving. My bet is that it needs a little more salt and I suggest you go ahead and add another pinch or two! A little salt goes a long way in bringing all of these flavors together.

I Still Need Help. What Flavors Go Well Together?

Here are some flavor suggestions for some of my favorite easy soup recipes. 

Immune Boosting Chicken Soup

Start with minced garlic and ginger, onions, celery, and/or carrots, leftover chicken, canned chickpeas, dried oregano, a tiny pinch of turmeric, chicken stock, a few handfuls of chopped kale, and a whole lemon to be used at the end (juiced and zested). This Chicken Soup recipe from another mom is also simple and easy to put together with things around the kitchen!

Taco Soup

Start with minced garlic, onions, celery, and/or carrots, ground beef or turkey, cumin, chili powder, dried oregano, canned black beans, corn kernels, a little salsa, chicken stock, and a squirt of lime juice at the end. Bonus ingredient: crushed-up tortilla chips from the bottom of the bag! 

The Soup My Kids Can’t Get Enough of

Start with minced garlic, onions, celery, and/or carrots, leftover roasted chicken and/or diced sweet potatoes, a large scoop of spaghetti sauce, chicken stock, cooked ditalini noodles, and whatever fresh herbs I have to toss in at the end. 

Easy Thai Soup

Start with lots of minced ginger and garlic (plus onions, celery, and carrots if you have them). Stir in about 1 tablespoon of red curry paste plus any chopped protein or vegetables. Then add about 1 quart of stock.

Bring to a boil and toss in some packaged ramen noodles until they’re cooked. (These are an exception to a rule I mention below!) Or you can add cooked rice. Finish with a can of coconut milk and any fresh greens you have that need to be used up. 

Father and daughter making soup togetherHelpful Tips

Last but not least, here are some of my final tips for when you’re learning how to make soup from my easy soup recipes. There are a few things to remember that will make a big difference in how your soup turns out.

  • Season, season, season: You may remember when I talked about this in my Cooking Tips post, but salt is really your best friend in the kitchen. Season as you go, so you don’t go overboard, but salt is really a key ingredient in a good soup. 
  • Cook any noodles or grains separately: If you cook the noodles or rice in the soup, not only will they absorb some of the stock, but they will get mushy faster and change the texture of the soup. 
  • Cut everything to be about the same size: This is why I love frozen bags of mixed vegetables! Everything is the same size, it all fits on the kids’ spoons, and it all cooks at the same speed. 

Now you’re ready to cook up an amazing soup on a whim! The next time you’re struggling to figure out what to make for dinner, try to make your own soup from what you have leftover in the kitchen. 

I shared my favorite flavor combinations and now it’s your turn. What kind of easy soup recipes do you think you could come up with the ingredients you have in your kitchen right now? Another Vermont Mom shared some of her favorites here!



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