Homemade soup from scratch

A bowl of homemade, hearty soup will warm the body and tastes great.

The middle of winter brings cold days and usually lots of snow in Michigan. A warm bowl of hearty soup warms us during those cold, bone-chilling days. There is such a wide range of soups including varieties like cream, broth-based, tomato-based, vegetable-based and those that are served cold. Making soup from scratch is generally very simple and can make use of many leftovers from the refrigerator.

Soups can provide a dense base of nutrition from its ingredients and can easily contain foods from multiple food groups. Soups can also contain many calories and be heavy in fat content. Reading labels and being conscious of ingredients can help you make healthier choices. Making soup from scratch can be good for your budget as you can use small portions of leftover food from your refrigerator and create your own recipes.

When making soup from scratch, consider the following components:

  1. A protein source which can be leftover meat such as chicken, beef, pork or fish. If you do not eat meat, you may want to use dried beans or peas.
  2. Add a vegetable. Use leftover vegetables from your refrigerator. Onions, green pepper and mushrooms add good flavor. Keep extra cans or frozen bags of vegetables on hand specifically for soup. A can of stewed tomatoes adds some great flavor.
  3. Include carbohydrates in the form of a grain. Use up odds and ends of pasta from your cupboard. Other grains like brown rice, barley, and quinoa add bulk to your soup as well as fiber and other important nutrients. Potatoes are also a good addition to the soup.
  4. The liquid is what makes this food a soup. This can be in the form of a broth or a cream sauce. You can make your own broth using a stock or bouillon cubes and water. Seasonings such as onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper can help to add extra flavor to the soup. Using fewer bouillon cubes for the broth will decrease the salt content. When making a cream sauce, look for ways to make it lower in fat by using low-fat milk and less butter.

The ease with soup is that all of the ingredients except pasta can be added to a pot at one time and simmered for hours to bring out the optimal flavor from the ingredients. Always add pasta about 15 minutes before serving. Soup is the perfect food for cleaning out leftover food from your refrigerator and cupboards. Make sure that all food is still safe to consume. Using food past its safe date will increase the chance of a foodborne illness.

Enjoy these winter days with a bowl of hot, hearty soup to warm your body and soul. Visit Michigan State University Extension for more information about healthy choices.

White Bean Turkey Chili (courtesy of Cooking Light)

Servings: 8 servings of 1 cup each


1 tablespoon canola oil

2 cups diced yellow onion (about 2 medium)

1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon dried oregano

3 (15.8 ounce) cans Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained (certified gluten-free if necessary)

4 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth

3 cups chopped cooked turkey

1/2 cup diced seeded plum tomato (about 1)

1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

8 lime wedges (optional)


Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté 10 minutes or until tender and golden. Add chili powder, garlic, and cumin; sauté for 2 minutes. Add oregano and beans; cook for 30 seconds. Add broth; bring to a simmer. Cook 20 minutes.

Place 2 cups of bean mixture in a blender or food processor, and process until smooth. Return pureed mixture to pan. Add turkey, and cook 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Remove from heat. Add diced tomato, chopped cilantro, lime juice, salt, and pepper, stirring well. Garnish with lime wedges, if desired.

Nutrition (per serving): Calories: 281; Total Fat: 5g; Saturated Fat: 1g; Monounsaturated Fat: 2g; Cholesterol: 40mg; Sodium: 623mg; Carbohydrate: 34g; Dietary Fiber: 8g; Sugar: 3g; Protein: 26g

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