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MGN Online/ Jon Sullivan

Extension Educator Brenda Aufdenkamp shares some tips to up your soup game!


A bowl of homemade soup is a great way to warm up on a cold night. A hearty soup can be made with veggies, meat, fish, dried beans and more, it can be the main dish for your meal.  Add some crackers or bread sticks on the side and perhaps fruit for dessert and you are ready to eat!

Make a large pot of soup and freeze portion size containers for later.  Many soups, with one exception of seafood soups, may taste better the next day!

Create a tasty soup with simple ingredients you already have in your kitchen.  Just choose an item from each of the following categories and follow the directions.  Use your imagination.

Each pot of soup serves 4 adults.

Category 1:  Choose one fat:  2 tablespoon oil (vegetables, canola, olive), butter or margarine.

Category 2:  Add 1 medium chopped onion.

Category 3:  Choose one or more vegetables (2 to 3 cups, chopped)

Celery, green pepper, green beans, carrots, peas, zucchini squash, mushrooms, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, or others.  Be sure to use what you have on hand; fresh, canned, or frozen.

Category 4:  Choose a protein.  One-pound beef, chicken ham, sausage or 1 (16 ounce) can beef,

chicken, ham or 1 (16 ounce) can beans (pinto, kidney, black, white, chickpeas, hominy, etc.)

Category 5:  Choose one starch.  3 to 4 cups diced potatoes or 2 cans beans (pinto, kidney,

black, white, chickpeas, hominy, etc.) or 4 ounces noodles,

macaroni or ½ cup rice.

Category 6:  Choose a broth:  You need 1 quart – 4 cups total.

2 (16 ounce) cans chicken, beef, and/or vegetable broth or

4 cups water and chicken, beef, or vegetable bouillon or

1 can crushed or dices tomatoes and 3 cups water or

4 cups milk and chicken bouillon

Any combination of above to make 1 quart.

Category 7:  Choose one or more seasonings

1 to 2 teaspoons dried herbs (oregano, cumin, chili powder, thyme,

rosemary, parsley, etc.)

Bay leaf

1 to 2 tablespoons fresh herbs

Minced garlic

Directions for making Soup:  Heat fat in large soup pot.  Add onion and cook until tender.  Add remaining ingredients (except fresh herbs).  Partially cover pot and simmer until meat is cooked and starch and vegetables are tender (about 20 to 30 minutes).  Add fresh herbs.  Simmer another 5 minutes.  Serve

To help get your creative juices started here are some soup making tips to consider when making soup for you or your family.

  • The best soups are made with a base of homemade stock and fresh ingredients. This can be very time-consuming. To reduce your time in the kitchen use canned or frozen broths or low-sodium bouillon bases.
  • Fresh ingredients are best, but canned or frozen vegetables will work well, such as peas, carrots, green beans, or corn.
  • If the soup is not intended as the main course, you can count on one quart to serve six.  As a main dish, plan on two servings per quart.
  • To reduce the fat content, make the soup the day before, chill and spoon off the fat that rises to the top. If you don’t have time to chill the soup, use a plain white paper towel to soak up oil from the surface.
  • Savory soups and stews always taste better if made a day or two in advance and reheated just before serving.
  • If your hot soup ends up slightly salty, add a teaspoon of cider vinegar with a teaspoon of sugar, tasting after each addition until the vinegar and sugar balance out the salty flavor.
  • Herbs will have a more intense flavor if added at the end of the long cooking process.
  • The best method to thicken most soups and stews is to remove some of the cooked vegetables, puree in a blender, and return the pureed mixture to the pot.
  • If you are short on veggies or there are none in your soup, make a paste of flour mixed with twice as much cold stock, milk, or water. Add the paste and stir slowly at a simmer for about 5-10 minutes. The ratio is 1-1/2 teaspoons of flour to 1 cup of soup.
  • To prevent potato or cream soups from curdling warm the milk before adding it to the hot soup.  Remove the hot soup from the burner and slowly add in the hot milk. Never allow the soup to boil.
  • For more ideas and for soup recipes, see

For best safety and quality, plan to eat refrigerated soup within 3 to 4 days or freeze it.  Avoid letting soup set at room temperature for more than TWO hours.  Do not put a large pot hot soup directly into your refrigerator.  According to the United States Department of Agriculture, it would take an 8-inch stock pot of steaming chicken soup a long time to cool to a safe temperature in your refrigerator.  To be safe:

  • To speed cooling, transfer soup to shallow containers, making sure soup is no more than TWO inches deep. Refrigerate promptly.
  • Soup can also be chilled in an ice or cold water bath before refrigerating.
  • You can place loosely covered foods in the refrigerator while still warm; cover when food is completely cooled.
  • When serving soup a second time, reheat it until it’s steaming hot throughout, at least 165° F.

Sources:  Utah State University Extension,, Keep Food Safe! Food Safety Basics, United States Department of Agriculture,

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