Tips for Quick and Easy Soup Recipes: All The Souper Tips You Need
Do you want to make delicious homemade soup for your family but don’t think you have the time? You can do it! Each week for a year I shared a new homemade soup that was ready in under 15 minutes. 52 of them! So many delicious quick and easy soups to choose from. Scroll down for the links to all of the SOUPin15 recipes and to read all the tips.
If you want to see pictures and links for all the soups in one place, head over here to the SOUPin15 archive.
SOUPin15 Index: All Homemade Soups Ready in Under 15 Minutes
- Classic Bouillabaisse
- Dill Pickle Soup
- Vegetable Soup
- Mulligatawny Soup
- Greek Fish Soup
- Quick Cioppino
- Cream of Asparagus Soup
- Lasagna Soup
- Fettucine Alfredo Soup with Chicken
- Italian Wedding Soup
- Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese and Bacon Croutons
- New England Clam Chowder
- Chicken Enchilada Soup
- Pasta Fagioli Soup
- Bacon Cheeseburger Soup
- Indian-Spiced Cauliflower Soup
- Mexican Lime Soup
- Coconut Curry Soup with Shrimp and Rice
- Spicy Mussel Soup
- Corned Beef and Cabbage Soup
- Spinach and Artichoke Dip Soup
- Manhattan Clam Chowder
- Moroccan Soup with Harissa, Chickpeas, and Chicken
- Beef and Broccoli Soup
- Green Pea Soup with Ham
- Beer Cheese Soup
- Egg Drop Soup
- Cabbage Soup with Caraway Seeds
- French Onion Soup
- Mozzarella Fondue Soup
- Chicken and Dumpling Soup
- Kale Soup with Kielbasa
- Turkey Pho
- Cold Potato Leek Soup (Vichyssoise)
- Pizza Soup
- Cream of Mushroom Soup
- Garlic Soup
- Broccoli and Cheese Soup
- Loaded Potato Soup
- Carrot Soup with Dill
- Bean and Bacon Soup
- Pumpkin Soup with Bacon Parmesan Crumbles
- Cauliflower Mac ‘n’ Cheese Soup
- Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup
- Hearty Tomato Potato Soup
- Chilled Roasted Red Pepper Soup with Basil
- Chicken Tortilla Soup
- Avgolemono Soup (Greek Lemon Soup)
- Spanish Corn Chowder
- Summer Minestrone
- Black Bean Soup
The Soup in 15 Souper Tips
Read It! Read through the recipe before you start to familiarize yourself with what you’ll be doing. If you don’t do this, I’m afraid it might be a Soup in 30 instead of a Soup in 15.
Gather Your Stuff: As you read through the recipe, gather together all of the ingredients, tools, bowls, pots, etc. that you will need so that everything is at your fingertips. (But don’t prep any ingredients. All of the SOUPin15 Recipes start with whole, unchopped ingredients. The preparations are in the instructions and always count towards the 15 minutes). This Mexican Lime Soup is quick and easy as long as you’ve prepped everything ahead of time.
Think Power: Use the most powerful burner on your stove. This speeds up your cooking time. No powerful burner? See “Nuke it” below.
It’s In The Pot: I truly believe that having the right pots and pans is one of the most important aspects to successful cooking. I have one Dutch-Oven-sized heavy-bottomed metal pot that I use for all my soups. It stands up well to really high heat, lets things inside it get up to temperature quickly, holds the heat well but not so well that when I turn down the burner it keeps going full speed. I have another pot, a big glass one, that is also heavy and thick. But it holds the heat too well. If it has boiling water inside and I turn it down to low, it keeps boiling at a very rapid pace for a couple of minutes. I need better control than that. If you have more than one big pot, I suggest trying them both out to see which one is best for this kind of quick-soup-cooking. If you’re like me, you’ll have a preference and it will be your go-to pot from here on out.
Be a Multitasker: Getting your soups made quickly is really all about the timing. The key is to make sure that something is heating and cooking at all times while you’re prepping other ingredients. For many of my soup recipes, the first thing I do is to put the broth in the microwave to start it heating up. Then I put a pot on the stove with some oil warming up. While the oil warms, I’ll chop and onion or other veg. It then goes into the warm oil. While it cooks, I’ll start chopping or prepping other ingredients. This means that some ingredients are cooking while I work on other ingredients. That kind of multitasking gets things done lickety split. An easy introduction to this multitasking soup cooking is in the Mozzarella Fondue Soup. The Lasagna Soup noodles get cooked while I’m prepping the other ingredients, too.
Tools and Techniques for Making Quick and Easy Soups
Meatballs in a Minute: To make meatballs in a quick, easy fashion, use any link style sausage in a casing. Pork, chicken, veal, or turkey. Slice open the casing and squeeze or pluck out a Tablespoon size piece of the ground meat. Roll it between the palms of your hands and you’ve got instant meatballs, ready to cook right in your soup.
Keep a Lid on It: When making a quick soup, the thing that slows me down the most is waiting for liquid to come to a simmer. What I’ve discovered is to always keep the lid on the pot. So, unless it says otherwise, keep a lid on it. This will help it get hot quickly, stay hot and it will help to cook ingredients more quickly.
Rapid Roux: Roux is a mixture of equal parts fat and flour that helps soups to thicken up. It can be tricky business to thicken with a roux, because if you add liquid too quickly, the flour won’t dissolve. Speed up the process by sauteeing vegetables or raw meat in butter, then sprinkle the flour over the cooked mixture. The flour will already be dispersed well, so you can add liquids more quickly without worry of ruining your roux. That method helped make this Fettucine Alfredo Soup with Chicken a quick dinner fix.
Nuke It: Often, the biggest challenge to making a quick soup is getting the liquid heated quickly. I have a powerful gas stove which helps me a lot, as does keeping a lid on on the pot, as mentioned above. But if you don’t have a powerful stove or if you’re trying to saute ingredients in your pot before adding stock, you can turn to the microwave. While you gather your other ingredients together, or while you’re sauteing, have a big measuring cup or bowl of stock going in the microwave. Add it to the pot when it’s hot. You’ve just cut your heating-up time way down.
Chill It: This is a tip for cold soups only. When you make a cold soup you want it to be really really cold. Definitely not room temperature. The way that I do this quickly is to not add any liquid ingredients (broth or water). Instead, I add ice cubes and puree them with some of the other ingredients. This gets the temperature of the soup way down low in no time. It’s a great tip for making a quick appetizer soup or a quick soup that pairs up with a wrap sandwich for lunch or a light dinner. I used this technique when making the Quick Cold Roasted Red Pepper Soup here.
Super Slurry: Using a slurry is another quick way to thicken up soup. A slurry is an equal mixture of cold water and cornstarch or arrowroot, blended together and then stirred into hot soups like this Homemade Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese and Bacon Croutons.
On Adding Cheese: You probably know that cheese as an amazing ingredient in soup. It can make the liquid of a soup so luscious. Sprinkled on top, it’s a perfect gooey garnish. I don’t need to tell you about that. What I want to tell you about is the technique for adding cheese to the broth of a soup. What you don’t want is for the cheese to end up clumpy or grainy. You want it smooth. To achieve this, first thicken the broth using a flour and water mixture. If your soup is already thick from some other ingredient (potatoes, cornstarch, pureed legumes or pureed vegetables, for instance) you don’t need to add flour and water. The thickness is to give the cheese something to cling onto so it’s not just clumping at the bottom. Once you have your thick hot soup, take it off the heat and add shredded cheese, a kind that melts easily. Stir as it melts in. Then serve. You don’t want to continue heating the soup once you’ve added the cheese. This is what can make the cheese separate and get a weird texture. So don’t put it back on the stove top. A soup that uses this technique is the Cauliflower Macaroni and Cheese Soup here.
How to Get a Bacon Flavor Throughout the Soup, Quickly: The key is bacon fat, which can mix into the soup and add bacon flavor to every mouthful. But you don’t just want to pour the fat into the soup. That would create a greasy layer on top. Ew. Instead, you measure flour and water into a mason jar and then put on the lid and shake the beejeezees out of it. Add that to warm bacon fat and heat it and stir until it gets thick. This bonds the fat to the flour. Now when you add it to the soup it blends in and doesn’t separate out, resulting in soup with a nice bacon flavor throughout, no greasy layer. Here’s my Quick Loaded Potato Soup recipe that uses this technique for bacony goodness.
Getting Thick with Bread: For a quick pureed creamy-style soup, try thickening with bread. There’s no flour or cornstarch mixing to do. Just add fresh or stale bread cubes. Let them get really really wet in the hot soup. Then puree it. This French-Style Garlic Soup recipe is thickened using bread.
Immerse it: An immersion blender is a great tool for making pureed soups more quickly. Instead of having to transfer the soup to a blender in batches and blend each batch, you leave it all in the pot, insert the immersion blender and puree to your heart’s content. So easy. This Green Pea with Ham Soup uses an immersion blender to speed up the pureeing.
Marvelous Masa: Masa, also known as corn flour, is a thickener used in many Mexican dishes. Aside from bringing great flavor to the dish, it also acts as a thickener, so it’s the perfect ingredient to use in my Chicken Enchilada Soup.
Flavorful Ingredient Tips
Burst of the Worcest(ershire): If you’re looking to boost the flavors of otherwise ordinary soups, try adding a bit of Worcestershire sauce at the end of the cooking. It adds a meaty, warm flavor, and it took my Vegetable Soup to a whole new level.
Cue the Cold Stuff: Whether a soup is served hot or chilled, cold garnishes like sour cream, chopped tomatoes, scallions, and cucumber can add great flavor to them. I added Greek olives, feta cheese, and red onion to the top of the Greek Fish Soup.
Ample Aromatics: The key to bringing great homemade flavor to quick soups is the use of aromatics like celery, onions, carrots, and fresh herbs and spices. Without using ample amounts of those items in this Quick New England Clam Chowder, the flavor would have been lackluster. In the Classic Bouillabaisse, fresh fennel, leeks, and saffron were the scented stars of the show.
Go Low So: Making your own broth or stock is the best way to control the flavor of your soups. But few of us have time for this. When choosing a stock or broth to purchase, look for the no-sodium or low-sodium varieties. This isn’t just because they’re better for you. Nope. There’s a flavor reason. Since these varieties can’t rely on salt for flavor, they often use a lot of real ingredients. Read the ingredient list to find the best option. All of the Soup in 15 recipes call for Low or No Sodium stock so that you can control the salt and have better control of the flavor in your soup.
Watch the Water: When making soups, either hot or cold ones, be sure to avoid adding water unless absolutely necessary. It will dilute your flavor profile quickly. With a cold soup like this Easy Gazpacho, it would be very difficult to remove the excess water. In a hot soup, it takes time to allow extra water to evaporate.
Butter, Baby: When a soup simmers for a long time, one of the things that happens is that the fat and other flavors from any meats transfers into the broth. But this takes time. One way to get some of this rich flavor more quickly is to use butter to saute the veggies in the soup. That rich buttery flavor then gets quickly spread throughout the ingredients adding richness to every mouthful. This butter trick is what I do to make a Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup taste (nearly) as rich as my Baba’s in unde 15 minutes.
Let’s Get Sour: Acid in the form of vinegar or citrus juice can really make a difference to a soup (or a stew or sauce or just about anything, for that matter). Next time you’re tasting a soup and think it needs more seasoning or more salt, try adding a bit of lemon juice or vinegar instead. It will give it a flavor boost and some complexity in the background that makes you go, “Mmmm…what’s that? So good.” Vinegars are best added in the middle of cooking so that the harshness can blend in a bit. Citrus is best added at the very end of cooking to retain the fresh flavor. A soup that really benefits from a splash of sour flavor is this Quick Homemade Borscht.
Red Red Wine (or White): It’s always 5 O’Clock when I’m making soup. A dribble of wine added to a broth brings out flavors that you otherwise wouldn’t detect because the alcohol dissolves them and carries them differently from the way that water does. Wine also adds sweetness and acidity to soups, taking an ordinary broth to extraordinary. It’s important to add the wine at the beginning of cooking the soup though. Or, as I’ve done in this Quick French Onions Soup recipe, add it to simmering vegetables and let it reduce for a minute before adding it to the soup. In this way, the wine simultaneously intensifies and loses some of its harsher flavor.
More Booze Baby: Other kinds of alcohol work too. Adding a splash of beer or even vodka or brandy to a soup will add a great deal of flavor. More than just the flavor of the alcohol itself. Alcohol helps things taste better in two ways. First, it evaporates quickly and so the smells get to your nose more easily, which in turn adds to how we experience the food’s taste. Second, alcohol bonds with both fat and water which results in more flavors being dissolved and more flavors penetrating throughout the dish. This Beer Cheese Soup has beer in it. You can taste the beer a bit but what’s really amazing is how wonderful the cheddar flavor is with it.
Salsa Sensations: When I’m trying to make a quick soup delicious what I’m really trying to do is make it taste like it was simmering for hours even though it didn’t. One way to get that slow simmered flavor is to add salsa to the soup. Salsa is a tomato mixture with other ingredients that are cooked slowly together. Adding it lends that slow-simmered flavor to the soup. I used this ingredient in this 15 Minute Chili and in this Chicken Tortilla Soup.
Pesto Pizzazz: Homemade or store-bought, pesto is packed with the fresh flavor of basil and with the richness of pine nuts, parmesan cheese and olive oil. Add this ingredient to the pot at the very end or serve it alongside for people to stir in. It finishes the soup off and makes 15 minutes taste like a full day of simmering. This quick homemade Summer Minestrone uses pesto for a final flavor boost.
Add Bacon, Especially Canadian Bacon: Why? Because I’m Canadian. But that’s not all. This ingredient always comes fully-cooked so you can warm it up a bit in a frying pan and not worry about whether it’s still raw inside or not. Most importantly, it adds a salty bacony flavor and some meaty texture to soup to give it that simmered-all-day feel. This Homemade Back Bean Soup gets great flavor from Canadian Back Bacon.
Cream, Anytime but Especially at the End: Add a drizzle of cream to the bowl after ladling any pureed soup into soup bowls. It adds depth and richness to the soup. By adding it in at the end instead of cooking it in, it stays more potent and adds so much flavor to every mouthful. This Carrot Soup with Dill has cream as a finishing touch. You’ll see that it not only tastes great but looks pretty too!
Yogurt is a Yes, too: Just like cream, yogurt will also help to thicken up a soup and give it a rich taste. However, yogurt always needs to be added at the very end, after the soup has been removed from the heat and allowed to cool for a minute or so. Otherwise, it can curdle. When added properly, yogurt can be the shining star of this Quick Curried Cauliflower Soup.
A Drop of Fish Sauce Every Time: Fish sauce is a pungent ingredient that you keep in your refrigerator. When you open the bottle and take a whiff your nostrils will flare and you’ll wonder why anybody ever thought it was a good idea to eat the stuff. But truly, when you add a drop or two to a soup, stew, gravy or sauce it transforms it. The result doesn’t taste fishy at all. It just ends up with this great meaty depth. Whenever I’m making something saucy and it seems to be missing something I try adding a bit of fish sauce, even when it’s not an Asian dish. And it works. Every time. This Quick Turkey Pho uses fish sauce to get really rich flavor quickly.
Speaking of Asian: A drop or two of sesame oil is another great flavor trick. Add a few drops when sautéing vegetables or a dribble into the broth as it simmers. The smallest bit transforms the broth with a subtle nutty flavor. This is great in Asian soups like this Egg Drop Soup but also think about bringing that wonderful nuttiness to basic creamy vegetable soups. I’m going to try it in a Cream of Asparagus Soup soon and I can’t wait.
Make It with Mustard: Prepared mustard adds a deep, rich flavor to dishes immediately, which is why it’s perfect to use in a quick cooking soup. You can use any variety of mustard you like. This Bacon Cheeseburger Soup calls for ballpark style yellow mustard to make it taste like a bacon cheeseburger.
Fresh it Up: With soft fresh herbs like basil and parsley, it’s best to add them to the top of the dish at the very end of the cooking time for the best flavor. I made my quick cioppino recipe that way. But we don’t put them there just for flavor. The steam from the hot foods underneath blows through them and pick up their fragrance, which will instantly attach itself to your senses for an amazing aroma experience.
Quick-Cooking Ingredient Tips
Delightful Deli Meat: When looking for quick and easy ingredients to make soup, you can always consider getting meat from the deli counter. Hams, chicken breast, turkey breast, even salami and bologna. All of these will add salty meaty flavor quickly to your soup. But just remember to ask for a piece or chunk of lunch meat, not for it already sliced or shaved. Then dice or cube away. I used deli corned beef for my Corned Beef and Cabbage Soup.
Speedy Seafood: Shellfish like clams and mussels cook up very quickly, as does shrimp. They’re a great protein option to use in soups like my 15-Minute Spicy Mussel Soup and this Coconut Curry Soup with Shrimp and Rice.
Teeny Tiny Noodles: Most pasta takes 8-10 minutes to cook. If you need to heat your broth or water first, and other ingredients too, you’ll be cutting it close to get any kind of noodle soup done in under 15. But if you buy pasta that is teeny tiny and has a short cooking time (5 minutes or under) it can be done. Get your broth and other ingredients into the pot and heat them to a simmer. Add your small pasta and simmer until cooked. For this Greek Lemon Soup with Chicken and Pasta I used Acini di Pepe noodles. They’re tiny tubes that cook in 5 minutes. They’re sold with the other pasta but come in a small bag so they can be hard to spot. For this Quick Chicken Noodle Soup I used fine egg noodles with a cooking time of 3-4 minutes.
Teeny Tiny Chicken: If you’re adding raw chicken to your soup, chop it into small pieces first (1 inch maximum). It will then cook through really quickly. This Chicken and Dumpling Soup uses raw chicken that is cut into small pieces.
Chippity-Chop: The key to cooking soup quickly is to chop your vegetables small enough that they can cook completely in a short amount of time. This quick and easy Cream of Asparagus Soup relies on well chopped asparagus to avoid biting into raw, woody stems.
You Say Potato: I say, “Shred em!”. If you cut potato into usual soup chunks, there is no way that they will cook quickly enough. But if you chop them very (very!) finely or, even better, if you shred them, they’ll cook in a fraction of the time. However you prepare them, potatoes will have to be one of the first things you start heating up for a Soup in 15. They take the longest even when small and so be ready to get them going as soon as you can. This quick and easy Spanish Corn Chowder uses shredded potato for that hearty potato flavor and to add thickness and texture to the soup. This Borscht uses a teeny tiny chop so that the potatoes cook through in time.
You Say Potato (again): I say, “Canned!” If you’ve followed my blog for awhile you’ll know that I don’t use a lot of canned or processed foods in my recipes. And I’ve never mentioned canned potatoes to you before. But the truth is that I actually use them in my daily cooking life quite often. They’re handy to have in the pantry because they’re soft and fully cooked. They fry up into a mean hashbrown and roast into some crunchy-on-the-outside-soft-on-the-inside roasted potatoes. And, they also add heartiness to soup in mere seconds. They’re fully cooked so all you have to do is drain them, add them in and heat them through. Done! Canned potatoes are what make this Hearty Potato Tomato Soup a filling and satisfying weeknight dinner that is ready start to finish in under 15 minutes and they’re also the trick to getting this Cold Potato and Leek Soup (Vichyssoise) done in record time.
You Say Potato (triple time): The third way I use potatoes is to buy them frozen. Frozen potatoes are blanched, meaning that they’re already partially cooked. As soon as they hit a hot liquid, they soften up and continue to cook quickly. I used frozen hash brown potatoes in my delicious Dill Pickle Soup.
Quickest Cabbage: Try adding a bagged coleslaw mix containing shredded cabbage and carrots to vegetable soups. Don’t use any dressing though. You’re just taking advantage of the thinly sliced cabbage and carrot mixture. Using the coleslaw mixture is great for two reasons. First, you don’t have to do anything to prep the cabbage and carrots other than open the bag. Second, it’s all very thinly sliced so it cooks really quickly. This Quick Cabbage Soup uses a whole bag of cole slaw mix but you can also add smaller amounts to all kinds of soups (it’s great mixed into salads too!).
Canned Pumpkin Puree: You can add canned pure pumpkin to any vegetable soup. Because pumpkin is a thick puree, it adds body as well as a touch of rich vegetable flavor. I love to add it to chili. Here’s a recipe for a more classic Pumpkin Soup that uses pumpkin puree. Caution: Don’t buy pumpkin pie filling by mistake. Look for pure pumpkin. Read the can carefully!
Carrots, No Peeling or Chopping Required: Carrots without peeling or chopping? Yes! You can buy matchstick carrots (sometimes called shredded carrots) in the produce department in plastic bags. They’re usually right beside the bags of baby carrots. They’re wonderful for quick dinners because you don’t have to peel the carrots or cut them. And for quick soups, they’re a miracle because their small size results in a really short cooking time. Here are some recipes that use matchstick carrots: Bean and Bacon Soup, Easy Carrot Soup with Dill, Quickest Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup, Broccoli Cheese Soup with Garlic Croutons.
Rapid Rice: Rice typically takes 15-20 minutes to cook, and even longer when it’s a whole grain rice. To make sure that your rice is ready when your 15-minute soup is, you can purchase prepared rice from the refrigerated section of your grocery store, which is what I did with my Mulligatawny Soup, or use leftover rice, which will heat through in just a few minutes of time.
Look in the Freezer for Veg: Frozen vegetables are fantastic for making quick soups. They’re flash frozen when fresh, which means that they have all the nutrients of fresh vegetables. But I find that the freezing process makes them softer than fresh veggies, resulting in a shorter cooking time. Check out this Broccoli Cheese Soup that uses frozen broccoli.
Greens, Pre-Chopped: A great time-saver is to buy greens that are already chopped up. You can now get collards, mustard greens and kale all chopped up in a bag. Just open the bag and add it to soups. Simmer until it reaches the desired tenderness. This Kale and Kielbasa Soup uses pre-chopped kale and it’s beyond delicious in under 15 minutes.