Even If You've Got Nothing In The Kitchen, You Can Still Make Soup

There's nothing to eat! We all hear it from our dear family — and sometimes, we're the ones complaining. When the pantry is nearly bare and the fridge is reduced to weeks-old veggie scraps, it's time to get creative. You may remember the old folk story of "Stone Soup," where a wanderer enticed townfolk to each add a morsel of food to his pot of water with a mere stone in it so they could all enjoy a delicious meal thanks to their contributions. Soup from almost nothing is similar.

Soup is the meal that never fails. You don't even need a recipe, just some general guidelines. You can even prepare a little extra and freeze it for the next time there's "nothing" to eat! You can avoid common soup mistakes by sticking to a few basic guidelines. Think of soup ingredients as divided into the following categories: Aromatic (onion, garlic, ginger, herbs), meaty (any leftover bones or scraps will do, or mushrooms for a vegetarian soup), starch (pasta, beans, bread), and finally, additional vegetables for background flavor. This is the time to pull out a box of broth from the back of the pantry or a bouillon cube if you have one handy. The quantities are up to you — you can make a single serving or use more liquid to stretch the soup for multiple mouths.

Making something out of nothing

You can start out by browning your soup's aromatic ingredients to give them a little extra flavor. Using a little fat (such as olive oil or butter) will add a lot of flavor to the finished soup. If you have vegetables handy, trim the useable parts and cut them roughly. If you have leftover veggies or meat, you can use them too. A pot of simmering water turns into a tasty broth from all of the bits and bobs you add to it. Salt and ground black pepper might be your only seasoning, but you can periodically taste the flavor of the soup as it evolves and decide to add other spices if you have them available.

If you are looking for a more substantial body for your soup, try adding a can of beans, a peeled and chopped potato, or even leftover mashed potatoes! If you have stale bread on hand, you can add it near serving time to soak up the broth and thicken the soup. A handful of pasta or another grain ingredient will add nutrition and flavor, and you can even use a stray pack of ramen to get the job done. Using up the little odds and ends you have on hand is a great way to make a meal out of nothing and prevent food waste while you're at it!