Whatever You Want Soup

By April 7, 2020May 3rd, 2024Recipes

This basic recipe can serve as a canvas for any kind of chunky soup. Mix and match ingredients to suit your cravings, using an aromatic base of onions and garlic, seasonings, flavorful stock (or water), and whatever main ingredients you choose. With just a bit of time, ordinary ingredients can become an extraordinary meal for tonight, and for days to come. 

Whatever You Want Soup

Adapted from New York Times Cooking

Yields 6-8 cups



4 tablespoons butter, olive oil, or neutral-tasting oil

2 medium onions, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

Kosher salt, to taste

6 to 8 cups vegetables, beans, meat, or other add-ins (see tips)

About 8 cups water or vegetable broth/chicken stock


Optional garnishes/sides:

Fresh herbs, stirred in at the end


Grated parmesan cheese

Slices of whole grain bread

Mix in cooked grains, preferably whole, such as brown rice, farro, or pasta



  1. Set a large pot over medium-high heat and add 4 tablespoons of butter or oil. When the butter melts or oil shimmers, add onions and garlic, and a generous pinch of salt.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are tender, about 15 minutes.
  3. Place the vegetables and other add-ins in the pot and add enough liquid to cover. Season with salt. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
  4. Tasting the soup occasionally, cook until the flavors have come together and the vegetables and greens are tender, about 20 minutes more. 
  5. Add more hot liquid if needed to thin the soup to desired consistency. Taste and adjust for salt.
  6. Serve hot, and garnish as desired.



  • Ideas for the 6 to 8 cups of vegetables, beans, meat, or other add-ins: 
    • a combination of vegetables diced into 3/4 inch pieces (use one or more of carrots, fennel, celery, leeks, winter squash, potatoes or parsnips) 
    • up to 4 cups of sliced kale or green cabbage
    • cooked/canned beans, lentils or chickpeas
    • up to 3 cups of cooked, shredded chicken or pork
  • If desired, replace some of the liquid with bean broth, chopped tomatoes in their juices, or coconut milk.
  • Covered in the refrigerator, this soup will last for up to five days, but it also freezes exceptionally well for up to two months. Just return it to a boil before using.


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