Just because it's soup season doesn't mean you have to get out your big stockpot and set aside a whole afternoon. But you don't have to just resort to opening a can, either.
With the help of a few products and fast tricks, you can have a bowl of soup about as fast as you can order a pizza.
I came up with a list of five easy soups that all take less than 30 minutes with the help of a few good cookbooks on fast cooking.
And how about cutting a little fat? Cooking Light's new cookbook Amazing Recipe Makeovers (Oxmoor House, 2016) has a handy trick for replacing heavy cream in creamy soups by making a replacement from nonfat milk and overcooked instant brown rice. It takes about 25 minutes, but you can do it in advance and keep a batch around for chowders.
Keep these handy
Any of these will help you make soup fast enough for a weeknight.
Wonton skins: Find them in the produce section of most supermarkets. Cut them into thin strips, drop them into simmering broth and you'll have instant noodles.
Almost-instant meatballs: Get Italian sausage or brats, cut open the casings and quickly roll the meat into balls for fast meatballs, already seasoned and ready to go.
Tiny pasta: Orzo and acini de pepe cook in 10 minutes or less. Bonus: They don't soak up so much broth that you end up with stew.
Canned beans: Add one can's worth to the soup and puree the second to use as a fast thickener.
Flavor boosters: You sometimes need something to add a little depth. Try a bit of balsamic vinegar, Asian fish sauce or toasted sesame oil. Start small, with ¼ to ½ teaspoon, and see if you like it before adding more.
Fast bases: Frozen hash browns and frozen corn can both be turned into a fast chowder.
Fast vegetables: When a soup would work with cabbage, stir in shredded coleslaw mix.
Quick Beef Pho
You can save a step making the broth with a frozen pho brown, such as Nona Lim, which is available at Whole Foods..
6 cups beef stock
2 star anise
1 (½-inch) piece of fresh ginger, cut in 4 slices
12 ounces flank steak or
8 ounces medium rice noodles
1 ½ cups bean sprouts
4 or 5 green onions, sliced
½ cup fresh basil or cilantro
2 red fresh chiles, thinly sliced
Combine the beef stock, star anise and ginger in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. (If using a frozen pho stock, you can skip this step.)
While the stock is simmering, place the steak in the freezer so it's easier to slice thinly. Place the noodles in a bowl and cover with hot tap water.
Cut the steak diagonally across the grain into thin slices. Remove the ginger and star anise from the broth with a slotted spoon. Add the rice noodles and return to a simmer. Add the beef and remove from the heat.
Ladle into bowls and top with bean sprouts, green onions, basil and/or cilantro, chiles and a lime wedge.
Source: Dinner A.S.A.P., from the editors of Cooking Light (Oxmoor House, 2016)
Lightened-up Broccoli Cheese Soup
4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth, divided
½ cup uncooked instant brown rice
1 cup nonfat milk
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 ¼ pounds broccoli florets, coarsely chopped (or about 3 cups from a salad bar)
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 ¼ cups shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese, divided
Make the brown rice cream: Combine 2 cups stock and rice in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 25 minutes. Remove from heat; let stand 5 minutes. Place rice mixture and milk in a blender. Remove the center piece from the lid and cover with a dish towel to keep it from splashing. Blend until smooth. Set aside.
Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Add oil to pan. Add onion and saute about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and cook about 30 seconds. Add broccoli and salt. Cook about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add 2 cups of stock. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes or until broccoli is just tender. Add the brown rice mixture. Simmer 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Place 2 cups of the soup in a blender and process until smooth. (Remove the vent from the lid and cover with a dish towel.) Return to the pan. Add pepper and 1 cup of cheese, stirring until the cheese melts. Serve topped with a little more cheese.
Source: Amazing Recipe Makeovers, from the editors of Cooking Light (Oxmoor House, 2016)
Greek Lemon Soup With Chicken
6 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
⅓ cup orzo
6 large egg yolks (save the whites for another use)
1 ½ cups cooked shredded chicken (leftover or from a rotisserie chicken)
¼ cup fresh lemon juice (from about 2 lemons)
Salt and pepper to taste
Bring the broth to a boil in a large saucepan. Add the orzo and cook 8 to 9 minutes, until tender.
Beat the egg yolks in a heatproof bowl. Slowly whisk in 1 cup of the hot broth. Whisk the egg mixture into the soup and cook over medium heat, stirring, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chicken and lemon juice and heat until warmed through. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Source: Dinner Made Simple, from the editors of Real Simple (Oxmoor House, 2016)
Spinach and Tomato Tortellini Soup
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic
4 cups chicken broth
1 (14.5-ounce) can petite diced tomatoes, undrained
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 (9-ounce) package refrigerated tortellini, any flavor
3 cup baby spinach, chopped
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
Heat olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, 2 to 3 minutes, until onions start to soften. Stir in the garlic and cook about 30 seconds.
Add the chicken broth, diced tomatoes and their juice, oregano and 1 cup water. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and add the tortellini. Reduce heat and simmer until tortellini are cooked through, 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in the spinach and cook just until it begins to wilt, about 2 minutes.
Serve immediately, sprinkled with cheese.
Source: Adapted from Damn Delicious by Chungah Rhee (Oxmoor House, 2016)
Asian Noodle Soup With Shrimp
6 cups chicken broth
½ red or green fresh chile pepper, seeded and sliced
2 tablespoons soy sauce
¼ small head of Napa cabbage, chopped
About 10 wonton wrappers, cut into ½-inch-wide strips
½ pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 cup snow peas, halved
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
½ cup fresh basil, sliced
Bring the chicken broth, chile pepper and soy sauce to a boil in a large pot.
Stir in the Napa cabbage, wonton strips and shrimp. Simmer until the shrimp are pink and noodles are tender, about 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the snow peas and rice vinegar. Serve topped with basil.
Source: Real Simple