Scrumptious, savory soup often starts with good ‘stock’ (a flavorful liquid base).

You can make your own beef, chicken, turkey or ham stock by boiling meat scraps or bones in water and saving the liquid. Vegetable stocks are generally made with carrots, onions, celery and sometimes tomatoes. Garlic, thyme, bay leaf and other herbs make flavorful seasoning combinations.

Another approach to stocking your soup is to save the broth and/or pan drippings from other dishes.

My mom’s method is a quart container of beef broth in the freezer. Any time she cooks a roast or other beef dishes, leftover broth gets added to the container. Once the container is full, she uses it to make a soup- like this Minestrone recipe (below).

Of course you can always buy broth in a can or carton from the grocery store or use beef bouillon, but look out for the salt content! Ready made broth tends to be high in sodium. By making your own you can use herbs and other spices to add flavor while keeping your salt content lower.

Minestrone Soup

Ingredients:

  • 4 c beef stock (or broth)
  • 2 c water
  • 2 large carrots, peeled & chopped
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 can chili beans (or 1 can black beans, drained & 1 tsp. chili powder)
  • 2 cups rotini pasta (uncooked)
  • 1 small zucchini, sliced & quartered
  • 1 cup fresh spinach, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. basil
  • 1/2 tsp. parsley
  • 1 Tbsp. cornstarch

Instructions:

  1. In large pot, heat beef broth and water to boiling.
  2. Add carrots, tomatoes, onions & beans. Cook until carrots are tender.
  3. Add seasoning.
  4. Dissolve cornstarch in a small amount of cold water (Shaking it in a sealed container works well). Add a small amount of the hot liquid from the soup and shake or stir to combine. Pour cornstarch mixture into the soup, stirring constantly as you do.
  5. Add zucchini and pasta. Cook about 15 minutes until pasta is done. Add spinach for the last 5 minutes.