Soup is cozy. Soup is homey. Soup is tasty. Soup is a cheap meal.

So I’ve started making soups again. It’s cold here in Minnesota… It was cold in Vegas while we were there. So soups is on the front burner again. And it’s lovely.

Someone recently asked for my chicken & rice soup recipe… sure, but I don’t  have one. I never use a recipe for cooking — baking, yes, but cooking? Don’t need one. Years of cooking in the commune and for my family and I can make just about anything. 

So, rather than a recipe, you get instructions, a DIY soup guide, a make-it-up-as-you-go how-to.

When I make soup I make gallons of it and freeze what we don’t eat right away (or at the end of the week — since when I make soup we usually eat it for a week).

Chicken & Rice Soup

1-2 chicken breasts, depending on how meaty you like your soup, cooked in your favorite manner and cubed or shredded

3 quarts of broth – I use Better than Bouillon for my soup bases. They have a wide variety of flavors. One of my favorites is Roasted Garlic. But for this soup you probably want chicken.

1-2 cups of frozen veggies – I use peas, or peas & carrots. Another good choice is stir-fry blends, they make the soup extra interesting

2-3 cups of brown rice, or quinoa, cooked – I often use leftover rice.

1 stalk of celery, chopped – optional

1-3 green onions, chopped. A leek is a great alternative. You won’t need the entire leek unless it’s really small or you really like leek. You use just the white part of a leek, and it’s best sliced really thin.

Seasonings – these you will do to taste. Start out gradual and add more as needed. Remember that full flavor, especially for hard seasonings like Rosemary, may not be at full strength until they have simmered in the soup for a while.

Garlic – minced, start with 1/4 cup or so. I use it from the jar since we go through so much of it.

Rosemary – start with a couple teaspoons

Basil – start with a couple tablespoons

Sage – start with 1-2 teaspoons

Salt & Pepper to taste. Probably won’t need salt if you use bouillon.

Directions

Bring the broth to boil, add chicken. Simmer until done if you are cooking the breasts fresh. Once breasts are cooked, remove them, saving the broth, and after they cool a bit, cube or shred them. If using leftovers you can add the cubed or shredded chicken later — with the veggies.

Season the broth. You can push the seasonings a bit since adding the veggies, chicken and rice will tone down the intensity of the flavor somewhat. Simmer the broth for several minutes and taste. Add more seasonings as needed.

Cook the rice as you usually would.

Combine rice, veggies and meat with the broth and let simmer for 20-30 minutes. Make sure that you add water to the soup if it looks like it’s getting low on liquids. Stir frequently.

Should make 10-12 1½ cup servings.


Veggie Soup

1-2 lbs of meat if you want meat in the soup, cooked in your favorite manner and cubed or shredded. A steak or roast, or leftovers work well. Lamb is especially good, but probably not something you have on hand unless you raise sheep like we did for 10 years.

2 quarts of broth – I use Better than Bouillon for my soup bases. They have a wide variety of flavors. One of my favorites is Roasted Garlic for this soup. If you want, you can just cook the veggies in water.

Veggies: any combination, amount and proportion that suits you.

First in the pot
Carrots
Potatoes

Next to be added
Leeks or Onion
Brussel Sprouts*
Celery

Last to be added
Broccoli*
Cauliflower*
Peas*
Corn*
Cabbage (if not using Brussel Sprouts)

*frozen works fine — if using fresh broccoli or cauliflower, toss them in when you add the onions.

1 can of diced tomatoes

1 large can of tomato Sauce

Seasonings – these you will do to taste. Start out gradual and add more as needed. Remember that full flavor, especially for hard seasonings like Rosemary, may not be at full strength until they have simmered in the soup for a while.

Garlic – minced, start with 1/4 cup or so. I use it from the jar since we go through so much of it.

Rosemary – start with a few teaspoons

Basil – start with a couple tablespoons

Summer or Winter Savory – if you can find it this makes a good flavor to add to your soup. Start with 1 teaspoon.

Bay leaf – use 1 large or 2 small. Don’t eat them, remove them before serving

Salt & Pepper to taste. Probably won’t need salt if you use bouillon.

Directions

Bring the broth to boil, add the seasonings. You can push the seasonings a bit since adding the other inngredients will tone down the intensity of the flavor somewhat. Simmer the broth for several minutes and taste. Add more seasonings as needed.

Add veggies in the specific order. This will make sure that the veggies get done all together and none get cooked to mush (carrots take the longest unless they are sliced very thin, are done). Don’t add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, or meat if used, until the potatoes are fork tender (easy to pierce with fork, but not falling apart). Adding the tomato sauce too soon means you end up having to watch the pot and stir more often to prevent scorching.

Simmer for 20-30 minutes. Make sure that you add water to the soup if it looks like it’s getting low on liquid. Stir frequently.

Number of servings depend on how many veggies you put in the soup.


White Bean Soup

If not cooking chicken, this is a really fast soup to make. It can be ready to eat in 15-20 minutes

1-2 chicken breasts, if you want meat in the soup, cooked in your favorite manner and cubed or shredded

1 14 oz. can of each:
Great Northern Beans
Cannellini Beans
Navy Beans
Baby Butter Beans

You can substitute any white beans for any of the above, just try to have a mixture

2 cups of broth – I use Better than Bouillon for my soup bases. They have a wide variety of flavors. One of my favorites is Roasted Garlic or Chicken for this soup.

1 leek, sliced, or a small onion chopped finely. You use just the white part of a leek, and it’s best sliced really thin.

1 4oz. can of chopped green chiles.

Seasonings – these you will do to taste. Start out gradual and add more as needed. Remember that full flavor, especially for hard seasonings like Rosemary, may not be at full strength until they have simmered in the soup for a while.

Garlic – minced, start with 1/4 cup or so. I use it from the jar since we go through so much of it.

Cumin, ground – start with 1 teaspoon

Cilantro, dried or fresh, if you like cilantro. If dried, start with 1 teaspoon, if fresh start with 2-3 tablespoons

Salt & Pepper to taste. Probably won’t need salt if you use bouillon.

Directions

Bring the broth to boil, add seasonings, leeks/onions and green chilis. Add cooked, chopped/shredded chicken. Simmer until leeks/onion is softened slightly.

Add the canned beans, including broth in the can.

Simmer until heated.

Should make 6-8 1½ cup servings.