There are few winter dishes as fast, easy and cheap as soup. Most soups use just a few ingredients and the recipes are versatile enough to allow you to throw a good soup together with nothing more than leftovers and other odds and ends from the fridge.
You can even set soups to simmer in a slow cooker while you’re at work.
Frugal Foodie recently made soup with a few handfuls of orzo, leftover roasted potatoes, some on-their-way-out carrots and kale, and a bit of frozen homemade chicken stock.
Cost: Nothing in the way of a grocery run and it probably saved her a few bucks in wasted food.
We asked chefs, bloggers and other foodies for their favorite creative soup recipes that won’t break the bank. Here are six to try:
Spiced Pumpkin Soup
We’ve already waxed poetic about how healthy and cheap pumpkin is and this recipe from Marlene Adelmann, founder of the Herbal Academy of New England, is no exception.
To make it, wash the outside of a small pumpkin, cut in half and scoop out seeds. Place pumpkin halves face down on an oiled baking dish with sides.
Bake in a 375 degree oven for 50 minutes. The pumpkin is done when a knife slides easily into the flesh. Puree, then set aside.
Place a large chopped onion and six cloves minced garlic in a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Saute until golden. Add a tablespoon of high heat oil such as coconut oil if the mixture is too dry.
Add two tablespoons butter with six to eight chopped carrots and four chopped, peeled potatoes. Cover. Stir often to keep the mixture from burning or sticking.
When the vegetables are still crisp but slightly cooked and browned, add 10 to 12 cups of water along with the pumpkin puree. Season to taste with salt, pepper, cayenne, sage and rosemary.
Cover and simmer for at least an hour. Garnish with sour cream or sprinkle with pumpkins seeds.
Game Day Buffalo Soup
This recipe uses the “wonderful flavors of wings in a low-fat, sophisticated, high-fiber soup, complete with celery and blue cheese,” says its creator and author of The Princess Plan, Dr. Jennifer Hanes.
A bonus to this alternative to traditional buffalo chicken wings: “None of the mess,” she says.
Sally’s Zucchini Soup
“This recipe makes a huge batch of soup,” says holistic nutritionist Sally Pansing Kravich. “Plan to freeze some.”
To make, chop a bunch of celery, two bunches parsley, one yam, one parsnip, six to eight zucchini, five to six carrots, a leek, an onion, and a cup of butternut squash. (Optional: Kravich suggests adding garlic, bok choy, escarole, chicken and dark rice, if desired.)
Over medium flame, sauté the celery, garlic, and leeks. After they have become translucent, add the parsley.
Next, add in the hard veggies: carrots, parsnip and yam. After they have softened, add in the sliced zucchini. Add a gallon of water with two vegetable bouillon cubes.
Cook on low flame uncovered for 45-60 minutes.
The acronym “G-BOMBS” represents some of the most nutrient-dense foods (greens, beans, onions, mushrooms, berries, and seeds/nuts). Health coach Shana Kurz worked out a hearty and healthy soup recipe that uses them all.
Easy Lentil Soup
“My Brazilian husband went to culinary school and he taught me how to make a ’cheap’ winter soup that I was paying $7 a bowl for at my favorite Mediterranean restaurant,” says writer and home cook Tricia L. Chaves.
To make, submerge a half-bag of dried lentils with water in a soup pot. Peel and chop four potatoes and two onions and add to the pot. Salt to taste. Cover and simmer until it starts to boil.
Let it cook at a rolling boil for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until soft. “You’ll start seeing little white ‘stems’ poking out of the split lentils if they’re past done,” she says. “They’ll become mushy soon after that.”
Serve with a squeeze of lime and a dash of olive oil.
Warming Winter White Bean Soup
Canned white beans, fresh thyme and red pepper flakes make this warm winter soup from Amanda Prince at SunnyVegan.com both rich and a bit spicy. “Kids like it, too,” she says.
Frugal Foodie is a journalist based in New York City who spends her days writing about personal finance and obsessing about what she’ll have for dinner. Chat with her on Twitter through @MintFoodie.