Soup for a Quick & Easy Meal

In an effort to dramatically lower my frequency of restaurant eating I have some up with a solution: soup.

There are many ways to do soup: a quick & easy and a really quick & easy. So first, the quick & easy. You’ll need some form of beef in this case. I prefer to use a nice big roast that I toss in the oven at about 150 at some point in the afternoon and by bedtime or before, it’s up to an internal of 135; I take it out, wrap it in foil and toss it in the fridge. Now I’m ready to do soup at a moment’s notice.

Trader Joe’s has an organic beef stock with no unpronounceable ingredients, and since it takes quite a lot to make soup, I reserve my home made stock for my sauces. I’ll typically use one container, a quart, and set it to boil — reducing it by about 1/3 to concentrate the flavor. In the meantime, I slice and chop up the meat, 8-10 oz per serving, which in my household is usually two. Yea, it’s a real "Hungry Man" soup, not any of that Campbell’s canned crap that purports to be meaty, with its measly 2-4 oz of meat, if that. To that, I’ll add some form of veggies in reverse proportion to what you might see in the canned crap. In this particular case, a few oz of carrot, celery, potato. That all goes into the pot and at this point you can herb & spice as desired, or none at all. In the photo below it was about a half tsp of Thai Massaman curry paste which is just enough to give it a bit of a spicy kick.

Let it reduce a bit more while the veggies soften up. Serve with some chopped up green onion and in this case, I also had some fresh spinach to chop up and top with. Click for the hi-res.

Beef Soup
Beef Soup

To me, there’s just something about a warm (I prefer well warm to piping hot — more intense flavor) hearty soup that just leaves me feeling euphorically satisfied.

Now for the really quick & easy, such as when I head off to the office. I just pour my stock into a good sized plastic container, add my meat & veggies (Trader Joe’s has chopped veggies in various mixes you can use for super quick ease) and if I have green onion to garnish I’ll just chop it and put it in a baggie. When it’s time to eat, about 4-5 minutes in the nuking machine will do the trick. The flavor will not be as intense, because you haven’t reduced and concentrated the stock, and I don’t do herbs & spices beyond some salt & pepper, but it’ll pass, and it’s still preferable to going to a restaurant and loading up on omega-6 PUFA.

Of course, this can be done with chicken, pork, lamb, and even pre-cooked ground meats or pre-made meatballs. And don’t forget to drink down ever last drop of that stock at the end. I use it to swallow my modest number of supps: (vitamin D, vitamin K2 (MK-4), 2-3g fish oil and magnesium).


  1. skib on April 23, 2011 at 08:09

    I’ll second the carrot/celery/onion combo, the classical French combination known as a ‘Mirepoix’. Bugger the nutritional profile, that’s a damn tasty combo.

    I like to make things like this in the slow cooker the night before, then put it in a thermos while it’s hot. Keeps ok until lunchtime and the prep is done the evening before instead of the morning.

  2. Primal Toad on April 23, 2011 at 12:25

    I don’t do soup often but this literally makes me want to make some right now even though its quite warm out. Come winter time I plan on making lots of different soups.

  3. rob on April 23, 2011 at 13:35

    I start out with a can of Chicken and Sausage Gumbo soup, add a little butter and some Frank’s Red Hot Sauce, then add a pound of fish fillets (thin ones that cook quick) and simmer it for a few minutes.

  4. Steve on April 23, 2011 at 14:46

    The Trader Joe’s beef stock has been my choice; unfortunately, it has canola oil listed in the ingredients. I’m just starting to clean-up my lifestyle, and I’m not sure if there’s enough in it to have an impact… any thoughts?

    P.S. Your sauces are amazing! I’ve just started to experiment with them – I can’t believe I didn’t think of it before – and I’ve been quite happy with the way they’ve turned out. I just pour the stock and wine in together and let it reduce, but I’m going to try reducing the wine down first and see if it tastes any different/better. I can’t figure out why the herbs I toss into the reducing liquid don’t seem to impart any flavor, but maybe I’m just not picking it up in the meld…

    • Richard Nikoley on April 23, 2011 at 17:17

      As I recall Steve, the total fat is super minuscule, so a couple micrograms of Canola is unlikely to have any impact.

      Go sauce go. Do this: reduce your wine to cough syrup, then melt in a a good pat of butter per serving. Then add your stock & reduce. Thicken to the extent needed when at the volume you need for servings.

      • Steve on April 23, 2011 at 22:24

        Thanks, Richard. You’re right, it’s a very small (1g) amount per container. I didn’t think it would be a big deal, but figured I’d ask. I really like the flavor of Trader Joe’s, but I think I might look around and see if there’s anything else I can find, at least until I start making my own.

        I’ll try that sauce procedure next, though I don’t really bother with a thickening agent. I think I might add a step at the beginning, wherein I fry some aromatics (I think I’ll start with shallot, bay, and thyme) in some butter, then add the wine. I’ve made quick pan-sauces with far less thyme, but had a more pronounced flavor, and I think it’s because I allowed the thyme to fry a bit before adding liquid. Or, it could just be that the thyme I used was over-the-hill… or maybe it just melded in with the flavor of the bay leaf, and I couldn’t detect individual flavors.

  5. LXV on April 23, 2011 at 14:47

    I’ve got a big pot of chicken stock (soon to be chicken soup) bubbling away right now. I save all my veggie odds and ends (carrot buts, celery leaves, and that last bit of onion you know is going to spoil before you get to it) in the freezer. I save the chicken carcasses in the freezer until I have three, then the whole shebang goes into a stockpot with half a handful of peppercorns, three bay leaves, and three or four whole cloves (or a cinamon stick). Cover with water and in 6-8 hours you’d never know you just started with water. So much protein that when it cools the stock will turn into a gel.

    Then when you’re straining the solids and discarding want you don’t want to put back in to make a soup, the chicken bones are soft enough (having had every damn bit of protein leached out) that you can break them apart to get the marrow – yum. It’s not exactly the thing for a “quick” dinner but it’s still as easy as falling off a log. I put up about half the stock for cooking and throw the chicken meat bits and some more carrots into the remaining half to simmer until the carrots are tender. Then you have soup.

    Frankly I’ve never cared much for beef soup.

  6. Trish on April 23, 2011 at 16:33

    Chicken stock is a good neutral base for any soup you want to make, even those that aren’t “chicken.” I do the carcasses in my crock pot for 24 hours and cool it for a day until it turns to jello. I don’t care what time of year it is, I adore soup and eat it frequently.

    • christina_aurelius on April 24, 2011 at 00:40

      I agree! Soup is so easy and can have some much great stuff in it. I find that drinking chicken broth is sometimes better than drinking a warm cup of tea on a cold day.

  7. Jennifer on April 23, 2011 at 16:48

    Always kind of hate to see winter come to an end, because that means no more wood stove until October, and you make the best stock and soup on there. That soup looks pretty tasty! I did a rabbit soup the other day that turned out pretty well.

  8. christina_aurelius on April 24, 2011 at 00:39

    One of my favorite soups is just plain ol’ homemade chicken soup. I take a whole chicken, plop that bad boy into a stock pot with carrots, onions and celery. Add water to barely cover it. Add bay leaves, thyme, salt, pepper and a twig of fresh rosemary, cover with a lid and cook till the chicken is done. Remove all the chicken from the bones and cook the bones in the coup for another hour or so. Remove bones, add the chicken back in and enjoy! It lasts me many days since I’m the only one in the house that eats it. Such a cheap meal and it tastes great even days later. When I feed it to my son, I will sometimes add a small amount of egg noodles since he likes that sort of thing. Chicken soup is my panacea!!

  9. Lisa Wainer on April 24, 2011 at 03:55

    That is a great idea. I am going to try this for lunch at work, which is always tricky. Thanks for the inspiration.

  10. Len on April 24, 2011 at 04:19

    Richard, thanks for the timely reminder. Made some soup today with some grass-fed beef skirt steak (all they had left), carrots, courgette and a bit of leek – very simple and not bad at all.

    I gotta admit that I don’t visit often, as I have a hard time with a lot of the fightin’ and cussin’ that goes on (PTSD issues here), so it was a pleasant surprise to find this one.

    Not to say that I have a problem with your blog and/or your approach on a fundamental level – I must admit that I actually admire the fact that you put yourself out there and say what’s on your mind at whatever risk/cost (I don’t do that often enough)… it’s just that I find that I have to limit my exposure to heated exchanges, even if it’s only as a witness.

    Take care,


    PS> Nothing accompanies a real soup better than a raw egg yolk (soy free here) or two floating on top. Give it a minute or two and it “sets.” Yum.

    • christina_aurelius on April 26, 2011 at 09:59

      I can’t get behind runny egg yolks. My whole family loves them and I just….can’t! But, I think in soup it might be ok. I should try this.

  11. Rachel on April 24, 2011 at 09:14

    When I have time on a lazy Sunday I like to caramelize a bunch of onions on the stovetop (in butter and coconut oil) while I cook off a hunk of beef in the oven–that means beef onion soup for several days, and the onions combined with the beef is fantastic.

  12. Maurile on April 24, 2011 at 11:45

    Soup is great because you can make it with just whatever you happen to have on hand. Any kind of stock (beef, veal, chicken, fish), with any kind of meat (preferably with bones — ribs, oxtail, bone marrow, chicken wings, whole anchovies, etc.), with any kind of vegetables (mushrooms, onions, cactus, carrots, cauliflower, peppers, whatever), and any kinds of herbs and spices (oregano, thyme, allspice, sage, cayenne, whatever).

    Just mix and match with whatever you feel like, or whatever is available.

    I also like to mix the stock, in equal parts, with either coconut milk, coconut water, or wine (white or red).

    And I’ll sometimes add an egg yolk (or whole egg), or butter, or olive oil, or coconut oil, or cream, or some other fat. Fish sauce is also generally a good addition. And nutritional yeast flakes. And whatever else I’ll think of just after hitting “submit.” It’s so easy to be creative; and it almost always comes out fantastic.

    You’re missing out, though, by not doing herbs and spices. Soup is one of the best ways to get your fill of herbs and spices. They are quite tasty.

  13. Leanne on April 25, 2011 at 20:31

    Richard, for instant soup flavour punchup without the time needed to reduce stock and tinker with spices, check this out:

    I made a quick ground beef stew for supper tonight (1lb gr. beef, 2 taters diced, 1 carrot, 1 onion, 1 celery rib, 2 TBSPs homemade veggie bouillon, 20 minutes on the boil) and it tasted like heaven! I add the bouillon to any soups and stews, to eggs dishes, meatballs and meatloafs… In a pinch, a spoonful in a cup of hot water makes a tasty snack.

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