There’s nothing better than a hot bowl of soup to warm and comfort you when the weather outside turns frightful. And while opening up a can of the winter staple is easy, canned soup isn’t always nutritious and making your own soup is simpler than you may think.

All soup recipes involve the same basic things – a base and the addition of hearty vegetables and meat, if desired. And it’s the spices, varieties and unique elements you add that make each soup different and your own.

The base for most soups is some sort of stock, be it chicken, beef or water. You can purchase pre-made stock from the grocery store or make it yourself with that leftover chicken you’re not sure what to do with. Just be careful with the sodium levels in pre-made stock, but either way, it’s always a good idea to reduce the stock down in order to concentrate the flavour more.

Then you add your vegetables. We always start with the basics – onions, celery and carrots then vary with other kinds of veggies depending on the flavours we’re going for. We also add garlic and fresh herbs, which again, will vary depending on your personal taste and perhaps the ethnicity of the soup you’re making.

Then you add potato to thicken the soup and puree it all at the end, if desired. You can easily puree in the blender, but if you plan on making a lot of soups this winter, an immersion blender will be your best friend. It doesn’t have to be expensive and fancy (in fact, Chef Jacqui’s home immersion blender was only $12), but it’s much easier than transferring the soup to a blender and back again.

Before serving the soup, do a taste test and adjust seasonings if necessary to get the desired result.

Whether it’s just you or you have a family of 10, we recommend making soup in large batches then either sealing it in jars or freezing it in freezer safe containers for easy meal solutions throughout the winter. While you’re at it, if you make your own stock, double that batch too and then save some of the stock to use as a base for pasta sauce (as a healthier substitute for cream), a marinade for meat or to flavour rice with instead of water.

On nights when you’re craving a hot bowl of soup but just don’t have the energy to make your own, stop by our Food Shoppe at 90 Earl Martin Dr. in Elmira where we have jars of fresh soup available every day, year round. We have our soul soothing classics like leek and potato and chicken noodle, but we also switch up the soup based on seasonal ingredients and have unique options like maple roasted butternut squash and potato cheddar jalapeno. Check out our online ordering menu for what’s on.

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