Six cheap, easy soup recipes perfect for cold months

Clockwise from top: Christopher Simpson, Isabella Tjalve, Isabella Tjalve

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One of the best parts about the weather cooling is a meal simmering away on the stove. Rich, hearty smells waft through your home and come dinnertime, you’re rewarded with a hot home-cooked meal.

No meal better caps off a chilly evening than a bowl of piping-hot soup. Protein and veggies mingle in a pot as their flavors meld together slowly, intensifying into a flavorful broth that’s perfect to sip by itself.

Not to mention, soup is a great budget meal. The veggies are supermarket staples available year-round, a little meat goes a long way, and you can even stretch your dollar further by adding rice, pasta or other grains. If you collect veggie scraps, you can even ditch the store-bought broths and make your own.

Soups provide a low barrier to entry, so they’re great for beginner and budget cooks. I recommend getting a heavy-bottomed Dutch oven, liquid measuring cup, garlic press, and cheese grater for you to be on your way.

Perhaps you need a long-lasting, budget-conscious meal that’s got a bit more heft to it? Look no further than our pumpkin chicken chili or a very special pitmaster’s recipe for sweet, smoky chili. while not technically soups, they deserve at least a mention on this list.

If soup is what you’re craving, you can’t go wrong with these six tried-and-true options.

Lentil Minestrone

p25 Green lentil minestrone sm.jpg
Green lentil minestrone recipe comes together in about an hour. Louise Hagger

Minestrone is a great “anytime” soup, and this recipe embraces no-waste cooking. Lentil Minestrone is built on leftovers and refrigerator scraps, with minimal shopping involved.

It draws inspiration from Jacques Pepin’s “Fridge Soup,” and welcomes the home cook to embrace soup as an easy, no-fuss meal that can still impress others. As Pepin says, “This soup recipe can never be the same. It all depends on leftovers, so it is the spirit of the recipe which counts.”

This soup is accented by the juice of one lemon, so digging out a citrus juicer will ensure no seeds fly into the pot.

Read the full recipe.

Zuppa Toscana

Isabella Tjalve

Have a keto eater under your roof? This is a perfect soup for them. Zuppa Toscana, meaning “Tuscan Soup” in Italian, has a base of ground sausage and bacon rounded out with cauliflower and spinach. It’s a filling, low-carb bowl perfect even for those who aren’t following a keto diet.

Want a little extra creaminess in your bowl? Four ounces of cream cheese per batch goes a long way in making the broth even more luxurious and rich.

Read the full recipe.

Cheesy Potato Soup

Grated cheddar is added to a potato-cheddar soup with quick-pickled jalapeños, in New York, Jan. 19, 2021. Silky-smooth and simple to make, it gets verve and heat from homemade pickled jalapeños. Food styled by Barrett Washburne. (Christopher Simpson/The New York Times) Christopher Simpson NYT

It’s a given that Cheesy Potato Soup is a hearty meal. The best part of this recipe is the introduction of some quick-pickled jalapeños, which provide a welcome blast of acidity and spice to an otherwise starchy and rich soup.

This soup benefits from the use of an immersion blender to mix all the ingredients together. It will open you up to a whole new world of soup-making once you use one.

Read the full recipe.

Roasted Pumpkin Soup

Isabella Tjalve

This recipe proves pumpkins aren’t just for carving.

Sweet pumpkin recipes are a fall mainstay, but this opts for a more savory presentation of the gourd. Stirring in some maftool (or pearl couscous as a substitute) makes a delicious Palestinian-inspired dish.

Much like the Cheesy Potato Soup, this recipe calls for an immersion blender. Don’t go too crazy blending, though, leaving some chunks of pumpkin really ties the recipe together.

Read the full recipe.

Creamy Chicken Wild Rice Soup

Creamy chicken and wild rice soup. Tammy Ljungblad Tammy Ljungblad/Kansas City Star/TNS

One of the best things about this recipe is that it relies on fresh vegetables staples—celery, bell peppers, carrots and onion—and the convenience of canned broth and frozen rice. The product is creamy and wild rice provides a wealth of nutrients and minerals that white rice doesn’t have.

Creamy Chicken Wild Rice Soup comes together in under 45 minutes and doesn’t require a giant cooking vessel. It’s a perfect option for apartment kitchens or cramped quarters.

Read the full recipe.

Italian Wedding Soup

Isabella Tjalve

My favorite part of Italian Wedding Soup is how packed full of vegetables it is, while still having chunks of sausage floating throughout. Serve it with a hunk of crusty bread and it’s like the entire food pyramid in a bowl.

Constant layering of flavors makes this soup rich and flavorful, and the leftovers from a batch of this will reheat to be even better than the first night’s bowl.

Read the full recipe.

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