I have a few extended family members who hate soup. For some reason, this really bugs me. As a lover of all chowders, consommés, gumbos and bisques, I take it almost as a personal affront that they have no interest in homemade chicken or mushroom soup, clam chowder, or minestrone (particularly when I make them). Thankfully, my husband and children share my passion for all things steamy, creamy and brothy.
Knowing this, it won't surprise you to hear that we eat a lot of soup at my house. My daughters are actually little soup fanatics. It is a cure-all for any ill. Have the sniffles? Ask mom to make homemade chicken soup. Your friend was mean to you at recess? Take comfort in a cup of miso soup. It's rainy and cold outside? Then obviously we need cream of tomato soup with grilled cheese sandwiches. Yes, from head colds to just an all-around bad day, soup makes their lives a little brighter.
My daughters' hands-down favorite is a tie between homemade chicken soup and miso soup from our local sushi spot. But boiling a chicken takes time and the Japanese restaurant is a hassle to walk or drive to on a busy night. So, because necessity is the mother of invention, I've created a few easy-to-prepare soups that can be made in less than ten minutes from foods most of us have on hand in our freezers and pantries. As any working mom can tell you, quick and easy is essential for a week-night dinner, and these recipes are both; yet I also love how these homey dishes are made almost entirely of vegetables, making them just as nutritious for my family as they are tasty.
Now, I realize some of you may scoff at the idea of using frozen vegetables or canned tomatoes, but when you're trying to cook seasonally, they're really your only option in the winter if you want to use something that isn't either a root vegetable or a leafy green. Plus many frozen vegetables are picked at the height of the season, so, if you don't overcook them, their natural summer sweetness really comes through.
After quickly sautéing the vegetables, you just add in some chicken or vegetable stock, milk with butter, and a few seasonings; ten minutes later, you will see that these hearty and warm dishes are worthy of your full attention.