Can I master homemade soup basics in my kitchen?

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Answered by: Colleen, An Expert in the On Soups Category
Great Soup? You Can Do It!

One of my biggest passions is cooking. I call it “Kitchen Magic.” It's something that I can do with intent—a magic spell, if you will—that can influence the people I love with positivity and joy. Yes, I said “joy.” There's nothing quite like watching something that I created with love bring smiles to the faces of friends and family. Amazing food holds the potential to coax some good out of even the worst day.

I believe that of all the “spells” I have mastered on the stove top, soups are by far my most successful and most popular. People who adamantly declare “I don't like soup!” love my soup, and keep coming back for more. The best thing about soup? It's easy! Sure, there is always that more complex, time consuming bisque or consomme out there. Overall though, a big pot of steaming, flavorful soup is where you're going to get the most for your time, money, and energy, and you're limited only by your imagination. I can almost always make a yummy, satisfying soup—even when there's “nothing in the cupboard.”

My intent here is not to give you recipes; those are available everywhere. What I want to do, though, is show you that you can unlock the potential. Good soup need not be a mystery, even on a small budget. You just need the homemade soup basics!

Soups can be a little complicated, with as many steps and ingredients as you can imagine. However, they can also be incredibly simple. Of course, I prefer to use fresh ingredients every step of the way, but we all know that sometimes this just isn't feasible. You know the feeling—two days before payday?

For this reason, I like to keep at least a few of the following basics on hand to ensure that I can always make a pretty amazing soup in just minutes: beef, chicken, or vegetable bouillon (or soup base); a variety of dried herbs and spices; dried minced onion and garlic (or at the very least, onion and garlic powders); and any variety of dry pasta—my favorite staple here is a package of rice noodles, but any kind works wonderfully.

Dehydrated vegetables purchased in bulk are great to have available as well. Those are just my personal “Broke Chef homemade soup basics.” Getting all these staples to have on hand at one time may be a bit of an investment, but trust me: you'll be glad you have these items at the ready, and you'll soon come to know just exactly what works for you and what your pantry can't be without.

At its heart, a soup is simply some sort of liquid base (whether it's cream, broth, or even vegetable juice) with seasonings that enhance the flavor of that base. Sure, there may be meats, seafood, noodles, or vegetables added, but I promise you that once you've got that all-important base down, with all its layers of flavor and nuances of aromas, you've basically arrived. Go ahead and experiment with this, and have fun with it! Try preparing some bouillon according to the package directions, add your favorite herb and spice combinations, and go from there!

One advantage of making soup this way, besides convenience, is the time saved compared to “from scratch” soups, which definitely have their place if you can afford the time, money, and effort. Go on, give it a try! The possibilities are endless. Like I said before, you're limited by only your imagination. Most of all, have fun. Your time in the kitchen should make you, and those you love, smile.

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