a peek inside the fishbowl

11 Jan, 2013

The cheapest soup to make

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Recipes and Food

This is something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately, mostly because:

a) I like soup.
b) I like to save money.

When I make my own soup I often marvel at how inexpensive it is to pull it off. It doesn’t take a long time, and it’s almost always pretty good tasting too. :)

In your opinion, what’s the CHEAPEST soup recipe out there?

I made a huge pot of turkey stock after Christmas and it was really good. I was using the carcass (I guess you can say that was free) and veggies from the veggie drawer. I’m guesstimating a little, but the broth ingredients probably cost a dollar. How much do two carrots, a fistful of chopped celery and an onions cost? Not much. The soups I made from it later cost a little more perhaps. I’d boil some pasta in the broth and add some chopped carrot, celery, and turkey meat… but still, it was pretty darn cheap. And miles better than the canned stuff.

Tomato soup is also inexpensive to make, and it doesn’t take a lot of fancy ingredients. In the summer, if you’re growing tomatoes yourself, it’s practically free. If you’re using a can of tomatoes, all you need to do is pour them on top of a sauteed onion (how much is a glug of olive oil?), and add some water or broth and a sprinkle of spices.

What about potato soup? I made a batch the other day. I started with these wrinkled old things:


… and ended up with this silky delight:

potato soup

The thing with potatoes is that you can use them if they’re wrinkled (it just means they’re dried out a bit) and sprouting (cut those off) but as long as they’re not smelly and rotting they are still totally edible. The soup pictured above was made out of a pound of potatoes from a 5lb bag I snagged on sale for $2.99.

I used this recipe but made a tactical error and put it in the food processor for a smidge too long (it turns very glutinous if you do that) so I ended up thinning it with a bit of that turkey stock I’d saved. It turned out pretty good. It tasted like liquid mashed potatoes, but still, it was pretty good.

Anyway, yes … I have definitely had soup on the brain lately. I posed my question to the Fishbowl FB page and I got a lot of great ideas here.

Kaitlin Wainwright threw her vote behind miso soup with tofu, scallions, and wakame (dried seaweed). And tomato.

Vivian Cheng from Blend Creations wrote: “I’d say it depends on what you have on hand, and the season. We save bones and other odd bits from roasts to make stock, so it’s no ‘extra’ cost. Root vegetables and fridge-clearing-less-than-pretty veggies go in the pot too. My soups tend to be a little different every time.” She also added: “Nutritionally, there are a lot of minerals from homemade stock (aka bone broth). The bones contain all the macrominerals and trace minerals that most people tend not to get enough of in their diet. Add to that, the proteins and gelatin are great for joints, skin and reduce inflammation. Adding a splash of vinegar (or other acid) will help draw the minerals out. (More info about the nutritional benefits of broth here)

Nicki McIlree posted a link to her grandma’s potato soup recipe, and I’m definitely adding it to my list. Yum!

Louise Gleeson wrote: “Whenever i have some wilty celery and some carrots, i head to the pantry and grab some lentils and canned tomatoes. this is a HUGE favourite. we make it several times/month. Lentil Tomato Soup.” There’s a picture of it over on this post.

Larry Woo shared a link with some great looking recipes for chilled summer soups. Including a roasted red pepper soup… yum!

Alan Viau posted a link to his favourite winter soup recipe, a gluten-free seafood chowder.

Sherry Osbourne likes Gordon Ramsey’s Broccoli Soup. “All you need to do is throw some broccoli into a pot with some salted water. Boil it for just a few minutes until it’s just started to soften. Spoon the broccoli into a blender and then fill it up about halfway with the water you cooked it in and blend until smooth. You can throw some black pepper on top when it’s done. It’s good just like that but if you happen to have some cheese (I like a few pieces of cheddar) you can put that in the bowl too and then pour the soup on top of it. So delicious. It costs very little to make, especially if you don’t do the cheese. Bonus, super healthy!”

What’s your cheapest soup recipe? I’d love to hear about it!

16 Responses to "The cheapest soup to make"

1 | Melissa

January 11th, 2013 at 1:49 pm


We eat soup at least 2 times a week. While they are almost all inexpensive, I’d have to say that butternut squash in the cheapest. I squash, 2 potatoes and water. Salt and pepper. It needs nothing else.

2 | Tudor Robins

January 11th, 2013 at 2:02 pm


I eat soup every day for lunch and the best, yummiest, healthiest, least expensive soup for me is “No-Cream Creamy Chickpea Soup” – essentially chickpeas, potatoes, carrots, celery and onion cooked in broth and blendered. Full of fibre, protein and iron which makes it great for those who don’t eat much meat.

3 | Jayda

January 11th, 2013 at 2:14 pm


I make soup at least once a week. Whatever veggies are left in the fridge with some broth in the pressure cooker. Blend with a few handfuls of raw cashews and some seasonings depending on the veggies. Favourites: ‘cream’ of broccoli or cauliflower leek.

4 | Melanie

January 11th, 2013 at 2:47 pm


I’m on a lentil soup kick lately – lentils and veggies (I like peppers and carrots) in broth. Makes a ton and freezes well. So nice in the winter!

5 | Heather @smart_spaces

January 11th, 2013 at 3:05 pm


We have made inexpensive soup since our student days. A great site for our favourite cheap soup


6 | Louise

January 11th, 2013 at 3:09 pm


Thanks for the shout out Andrea! It’s honestly our very favourite thing to have in tupperware, because it tastes even better the next day. I use the recipe from the More Time Moms Family Meals cookbook (2010)

7 | Javamom

January 11th, 2013 at 3:12 pm


My mother makes a similar soup and simply adds leeks or kale into it. Sounds so simple, is so nourishing and delish!


8 | Teapotkid

January 11th, 2013 at 4:50 pm


The Green Door’s lentil and potato soup, which is essentially red lentils, potatoes, onion, cumin, water, a handful of fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lemon juice. Easy, cheap and delicious. Even my 4-year-old likes it.

9 | Connie

January 11th, 2013 at 6:16 pm


I don’t know that this qualifies as cheap, but we like stracciatella in our house for a quick throw-together. The fresh parmesan and eggs probably disqualify the “cheap” part, but it’s yummy and easy!!

10 | Nikki

January 11th, 2013 at 8:06 pm


I’ve been making a spinach/orzo soup lately that is sooo easy and would be cheap when spinach is in season. Sauteed onions, broth, spinach, orzo. Delicious.

11 | Amy

January 12th, 2013 at 9:40 am


When I buy chicken, I buy the bulk pack of a whole chicken cut into parts, or a pack of thighs. Then I remove the bones, skin, and fat, and use those to make stock. It has way more flavor in my opinion than stock made from the roasted carcass.

Tasty cheap soup – curry squash soup. Saute some onions and diced squash, add broth and curry paste or powder, cook till tender and blend, season to taste. I like this with a bit of horseradish swirled in.

12 | Amy

January 12th, 2013 at 9:42 am


Sorry, not sure if I was clear, I make the broth using the bones etc. I generally use the meat in other recipes.

13 | Lisa @bitesforbabies

January 12th, 2013 at 8:03 pm


Looks delicious!! I’m going to try and make a sausage, swiss chard and potato soup tomorrow…a nice twist on simple potato soup (plus, I have to get rid of the ingredients before. They go bad!) ;-)

14 | Looking for your domestic wisdom! And a superquick giveaway for Twitter followers >> a peek inside the fishbowl

January 15th, 2013 at 10:17 am


[…] the potato soup I made out of wrinkly potatoes last week? Well, it inspired my latest post on the UsedEverywhere blog about using up those slowly perishing […]

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January 16th, 2013 at 8:59 am


[…] been on a soup kick lately, as you probably have already guessed from a recent post on the issue. soup makes a pretty satisfying lunch, and interestingly I think the soup thing has helped me […]

16 | UsedEverywhere | How to use up those refrigerator extras; limp carrots, brown bananas, sad celery, etc. - UsedEverywhere

January 29th, 2014 at 1:45 pm


[…] Soft apples can be cooked down into applesauce (my kids love it, and it’s much better than store bought) and brown bananas are perfect for banana bread and banana ice cream. A shredded carrot can be tossed in a meatloaf. And no one will die if sprouty potatoes are de-sprouted and boiled and mashed or turned into a soup. […]

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human offspring: Emma (24) and Sarah (22). During the day I work as a writer at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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