Seven Simple Soups and Stews

Turkey Soup made from turkey leftovers

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Alice Henneman, MS, RDN

What could be simpler than supping on a big, steaming bowl of soup? A hearty, healthy soup — made with veggies and meat, poultry, fish or dried beans — can be the main dish for your meal. Add some crackers or breadsticks on the side and perhaps fruit for dessert and you're ready to eat!

Make a large batch of soup and enjoy some for another meal. Many soups, with the possible exception of seafood soups, may taste better the next day!

For best safety and quality, plan to eat refrigerated soup within TWO days. And avoid letting soup set at room temperature for more than TWO hours.

Don't put a large pot of hot soup directly into your refrigerator. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, it would take an 8-inch stock pot of steaming chicken soup 24 HOURS to cool to a safe temperature in your refrigerator. To be safe:

  • Transfer soup to shallow containers to speed cooling, making sure soup is no more than TWO inches deep. Refrigerate promptly. You can place loosely covered foods in the refrigerator while still warm; cover when food is completely cooled.
  • When serving soup a second time, reheat it until it's steaming hot throughout, at least 165 degrees F.

Following are seven quick and easy soup recipes, brimming with good taste and nutrition!

Quick Links to Recipes:

Ten Minute Corn Chowder

Ten Minute Corn ChowderServing Size: 1-1/4 cup
Yield: 4 servings

  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 1/2 chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 4 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 3 cups nonfat milk
  • 2 teaspoons mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • black pepper to taste
  • 2 cups frozen corn kernels
  • 4 tablespoons shredded, reduced-fat cheddar cheese
  1. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high. Add the oil and saute the onion and garlic until golden, about 2 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, place the flour, milk, mustard and seasonings in a small bowl and mix well.
  3. Add the milk mixture to the skillet followed by the corn; mix well until the mixture comes to a boil and thickens, about 3 minutes. Stir frequently to keep the mixture from burning.
  4. Divide into four bowls and top each with 1 tablespoon of shredded cheese.

Source: Adapted from: Cooking Demo II, p.56, Food and Health Communications, Inc.

Nutrition Information: Calories, 350; Total Fat, 13g; Saturated Fat, 3g; Trans Fat 3g; Cholesterol, 10mg; Sodium, 620mg; Total Carbohydrate, 45g; Dietary Fiber, 5g; Sugars, 11g; Protein, 9g.

Alice's Notes:

  1. If you don't have frozen corn, use canned corn.
  2. If you'd like to substitute fresh thyme for the dried thyme, use about 1 teaspoon of fresh thyme.
  3. You can use other types of cheeses in the recipe, just be aware the calorie and fat level will be raised with a higher fat cheese.
  4. The mustard adds an extra boost of flavor to this recipe; however, if you're not a big mustard fan or have one of the hotter or spicier mustards, you might start with 1 teaspoon.
  5. If you have trouble keeping sauces and gravies from turning lumpy, try using a quick-mixing flour such as Wondra Quick-Mixing Flour.*

Turkey Stew

Turkey StewServing Size: 1/4 of recipe
Yield: 4 servings

  • 2 teaspoons vegetable-oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 finely chopped garlic clove or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 4 chopped carrots
  • 2 chopped celery stalks
  • 2 chopped potatoes
  • 1 can (15 ounce) tomatoes, diced
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups chopped, cooked turkey
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Italian seasoning or oregano, basil or thyme to taste
  1. Heat oil in medium saucepan. Add onion, garlic, carrots and celery and stir two minutes.
  2. Add potatoes, tomatoes, and water to pan. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add turkey and cook another five minutes or until heated.
  3. Season to taste before serving. Refrigerate leftovers.

Source: Adapted from: Montana Extension Nutrition Education Program Website Recipes, Montana State University Extension Service

Alice's Notes:

  1. Start checking the vegetables for tenderness after about 15 minutes, especially if you like them to have a crunch to them. Also, how fast they cook will depend on their size.
  2. I tossed in the turkey the same time as the vegetables to help assure I didn't overcook the vegetables — like my veggies crunchy!
  3. If you like, you might use a low sodium chicken broth instead of water in this recipe for added richness.
  4. Unless I'm trying to concentrate the broth of a soup or stew, I simmer a soup with the lid on if I'm doing more than simply reheating it. Otherwise, the broth tends to cook down more rapidly and I may need to add more liquid. I have one of those —universal lids— with a glass section so I can watch whatever soup or stew I'm making. Whether covered or uncovered, it's a good idea to check the liquid level of your soup periodically.
  5. Check soup periodically to see if you need to adjust the burner heat to keep the soup at a nice simmering level.
  6. Add salt at the end, if desired, to season to taste. As soup cooks, if the broth in a soup has cooked down, the broth will taste saltier than when you started.
  7. I like to use a yellow potato such as a Yukon Gold potato in soups. They have a thin skin; just wash and scrub; cut into cubes and toss them into your soup.
  8. This recipe also may be made with chopped, cooked chicken.

Turkey or Chicken Soup

Turkey or Chicken SoupYield: 2 servings

  • 1 cup chopped, cooked turkey or chicken
  • dash of pepper
  • 1/4 chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped celery
  • 2 thinly chopped carrots
  • 1/4 teaspoon thyme
  • 2 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup cooked pasta (such as bowtie, shells, macaroni, etc.) OR 1 cup cooked rice
  1. Add all ingredients, except pasta or rice to pan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook covered until vegetables are tender crisp, about 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. Add cooked pasta or cooked rice and cook a few more minutes until pasta or rice is heated.

Italian White Bean Soup

Italian White Bean SoupMakes 4 servings

Part of the beans and liquid in this soup is pureed to make a thicker, creamy texture.

  • 2 (14.5-ounce) cans white kidney beans (cannellini) or Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed; OR 3 cups cooked dry beans
  • 4 cups non-fat, reduced sodium chicken broth, divided
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (16-ounce) can diced tomatoes with no salt, undrained; OR 4 to 6 fresh plum tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons dried thyme leaves
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  1. Combine one can of beans with two cups of the broth in a blender or food processor and blend until a smooth puree.
  2. Transfer to a large saucepan. Stir in remaining ingredients.
  3. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, about 10 to 15 minutes, or until beans and tomatoes reach desired tenderness.

Source: Courtesy of American Institute for Cancer Research; adapted slightly. 

Nutritional Facts/serving: 203 calories; 1g total fat (<1g saturated fat); 37g carbohydrate; 12g protein; 10g dietary fiber; 744mg sodium.

Alice's Notes: Use a canned bean without added salt or cook your own without salt to lower the sodium content of this recipe.

Ground Beef - Corn Chili with Rice

Ground Beef Corn Chili with Rice4 to 6 main dish servings

This recipe is easy to increase or decrease in size. It also tastes great the next day! Use cooked brown rice you've made a previous day and frozen beef crumbles (see Alice's Notes) and this recipe practically prepares itself!

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (equals about 1 cup chopped onion)
  • 1 (28-ounce) or 2 (14.5-ounce cans) diced tomatoes, including juice
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 2 cups frozen corn
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons chili powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. In large skillet, brown ground beef and onion over medium heat 8 to 10 minutes or until beef is no longer pink, breaking up into 3/4-inch crumbles. Pour off drippings.
  2. Transfer browned meat and onion to a large pot. Add tomatoes and water. Bring to a boil.
  3. Add rice and corn. After mixture returns to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer until corn is heated, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste. Thin, with additional water, if it seems too thick, and reheat until it starts to bubble.

Alice's Notes:

  1. If you will be serving this soup to people who are reducing the salt in their meals, you may wish to use no-salt-added tomatoes and pass the salt rather than add it to the recipe.
  2. Instead of browning the hamburger and onion, use frozen hamburger crumbles (directions found in CIQ's Easy Ground Beef Recipes from your Freezer.)
  3. See CIQ's Now You're Cooking...with Brown Rice! for directions and ideas for using cooked-ahead rice.

Brunswick Stew

Brunswich StewServing Size: approximately 1 cup for small; 2 cups for large
Yield: 8 small servings or 4 large main dish servings

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 medium chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped pepper, red, green or a combination (optional)
  • 2 cups chicken broth, low sodium
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried leaf thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 cups cooked, diced and boned chicken or turkey
  • 2 cups tomatoes, canned or cooked
  • 2 cups cooked dry beans OR 1 (15.5 ounce) can beans (drained), such as red beans or Great Northern beans, etc.
  • 2 cups whole kernel corn, frozen or 1 (15.5 ounce) can corn, canned without salt (drained)
  1. Heat oil in a large pan. Add onion and cook in oil until tender.
  2. Add all remaining ingredients, except salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook, covered, for 30 minutes at medium-low.
  3. Season to taste with salt, if desired.

Source: This recipe is a slightly adapted version of an adaptation of a recipe from Healthy Futures, Virginia Cooperative Extension. 

Quick Chili

Quick ChiliServing Size: 3/4 cup
Yield: 4 servings
Time: 20 minutes

  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 can (15.5 ounces) kidney beans, drained OR 1-1/2 cups cooked dry kidney beans, red beans or other bean of your choice
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes, no salt added—do not drain
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons chili powder
  1. Cook ground beef and onion in skillet until ground beef is browned (160 degrees F). Be sure all pink color is gone from meat and juices. Do not undercook ground beef. Carefully wash your hands and any surfaces that have come in contact with raw meat.
  2. Drain off fat into container.
  3. Stir in kidney beans, diced tomatoes, and chili powder.
  4. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes. Add a little water, if needed, to thin the broth.
  5. Refrigerate or freeze leftovers within 2 hours of cooking. Use refrigerated leftovers within 4 days.

Source: This recipe is a slightly adapted version of an adaptation of a recipe from Simply Good Eating Recipe Cards, Vol. 1, 2000, University of Minnesota Extension Service. 

Alice's Notes:

  1. If your chili powder is a hotter variety, you may want to add less chili powder; you can always add more at the end of cooking.
  2. Save time by using some frozen beef crumbles (use half a recipe that was originally made with one pound of ground beef and one onion (directions found in CIQ's Easy Ground Beef Recipes from your Freezer.)

 *UNL Nonendoresement Policy: Reference to commercial products or trade names is made with the understanding that no discrimination is intended of those not mentioned and no endorsement by University of Nebraska—Lincoln Extension is implied for those mentioned.