The Best Soup to Use Up All the Random Ingredients in Your Kitchen

It’s still hot in Charleston, but autumn’s close at hand. Leaves are starting to clutter the sidewalks, sweaters are coming out of summer hibernation, pumpkins are appearing on porches, and we’re all starting to crave cool weather treats. 

If you’re like me, you also have more than a few random, neglected ingredients waiting in the kitchen. What better way to prevent food waste AND summon that fall energy than with the perfect catch-all soup recipe. 

You can use this recipe with literally any vegetable. I’m talking zucchini, peppers, broccoli, asparagus, onions, celery, potatoes. Got a can of diced tomatoes? Use it. Half a bag of baby carrots with no hummus? Get it out. Pretty much any vegetable you have will work. I’ve made this soup a bunch of times with completely different ingredients and it never fails.

  1. 1. Dried Beans and Lentils

    Lentils

    First things first, if you have any dried beans or lentils hidden up in the cupboards, put them on to cook. If you’re organized enough, you might remember to soak them overnight. But if you’re like me, you’ll forget. Whatever bag of beans you’re using should have instructions as to how to cook them (usually this takes about an hour). 

  2. 2. Hard Vegetables

    Veggies!

    Next, get out the biggest pot you have and put water on to boil. The amount of water is going to depend on how many ingredients you have to cook. You want the vegetables to be just submerged. Cut up all the hard vegetables first and put them in water to boil. These are going to be your carrots and broccoli and potatoes and squash. Once they have boiled, you can turn the heat down and let them simmer until softened. 

  3. 3. Aromatics and Soft Vegetables

    Garlic

    Then, sauté the aromatics in olive oil, like fresh garlic, onions, or leeks. After they’ve become soft, toss them into the pot with the other vegetables. This is when you can dump in any canned vegetables or broths and softer vegetables like fresh tomatoes or spinach. And add the cooked beans in when they’re ready too. 

  4. 4. Herbs and Spices

    Spice jars

    Now it’s time for the herbs and spices. Salt and pepper are a must. Add these to taste, but keep in mind you can salt it when it’s finished too. The herbs I like to add to mine are thyme and bay leaf. Look at what spices you have and see what you can use. Other great soup herbs are parsley, basil, cloves, or rosemary. If you want it spicy, add some cumin, paprika, or chili powder.

  5. 5. Final Steps

    Jason Briscoe

    Okay, so now you should have everything in one big pot, right? Turn the heat down to a simmer if you haven’t already and let it sit covered for 40-60 minutes.

    By the time you return, your apartment should be smelling divine! If you are able to purée the soup with an immersion blender, this will absolutely elevate it. And, if you have any milk or cream you want to use, add some to the blended soup, stirring it in as you pour. If you can’t purée it and you have noodles you want to add, then this is the moment. Taste the soup and add more salt or pepper as needed.

And that’s it. Your creation is ready to enjoy! Pairs well with candles, blankets, and a cozy read.