Got 20 Minutes? Make Soup!

Back when Martha Stewart was peaking and famous for her ability to do everything perfectly—from hosting dinner parties to plowing fields—I decided I’d try my hand at being Martha for an evening. My plan was to invite a couple to our home for a gourmet dinner party.

I did what Martha would do: I went overboard. I set the table with china dishes and crystal stemware—loads of flatware, candles, and cloth napkins. It took a while but finally, I came up with a menu. First course:  French Onion Soup. What a pain. It took all day to prepare.


The friends arrived late and brought a little surprise with them—their kids! That was not in the plan. I hadn’t prepared anything for children! And if that wasn’t bad enough, the quite pushy husband started poking around the kitchen, lifting lids and asking what was on the menu.

Starting with French Onion Soup, he made it abundantly clear that he doesn’t eat that. Then one by one as I went down the menu, he responded “Nope!” to everything we would be having for dinner.

As it turned out, three of us ate the planned meal while the husband and children dined on peanut butter and jelly.

All painful memories aside, there’s nothing like homemade soup to warm body and soul on a blustery, fall day. But what if you don’t have all day to make soup? Don’t sweat it. If all you have is about 20 minutes (give or take), you can make any of these mostly-from-scratch soups.

They’re so easy and so delicious (and cheap, but let that be our little secret), you’re going to want to make it “soup night” at least once a week until spring.


Semi-Homemade Chicken Soup

When you don’t have more than about 20 minutes, this is an amazing semi-homemade chicken soup. And so easy!

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 4 (14.5 ounce) cans chicken broth
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can vegetable broth
  • 1/2 pound chopped cooked chicken breast
  • 1 1/2 cups egg noodles
  • 1 cup sliced carrots
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. In a large pot over medium heat, melt butter.
  2. Cook onion and celery in butter until just tender, 5 minutes.
  3. Pour in chicken and vegetable broths and stir in chicken, noodles, carrots, basil, oregano, salt, and pepper.
  4. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes before serving.

Beer Cheese Soup

  • 1 cup minced celery
  • 1 cup minced carrots
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 10 oz. bottle beer (nonalcoholic works just fine)
  • 10 oz. can condensed chicken broth
  • 3 cups grated sharp Cheddar cheese
  • white Cheddar cheese popcorn, optional for garnish
  1. In a heavy stockpot over medium high heat, sauté celery, carrots, and onion in butter until tender, 4 or 5 minutes.
  2. Reduce heat to medium
  3. Add flour and with a whisk stir constantly, until mixture bubbles, 4-5 minutes.
  4. Add half and half, beer, and chicken broth and stir gently.
  5. Stir in the grated Cheddar cheese and continue stirring until cheese is melted and until thickened, about 10 minutes.

Note: Once you have added the cheese do not allow the soup to come to a boil. You want to keep it just below the boiling point. Pour into serving bowls. Garnish with popcorn, as desired. Servings: 6

Quick and Hearty Vegetable Beef Soup

  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 14.5-ounce can whole tomatoes with the juice, cut into pieces
  • 3/4 cup quick cooking barley
  • 1/2 cup sliced celery
  • 1/2 cup sliced carrots
  • 2 beef bouillon cubes
  • 1/2 teaspoon basil, crushed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 9-ounce package frozen mixed vegetables
  • Black pepper to taste
  1. In large stockpot, brown meat. Add onion and garlic; cook until onion is tender. Drain.
  2. Stir in remaining ingredients except for frozen vegetables. Cover; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add frozen vegetables; cook about 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Additional water may be added if soup becomes too thick. Servings: 8.

Creamy Carrot Soup

  • onion,
  • garlic cloves,
  • large carrots,
  1. Set a large pot over medium heat and heat the oil. Add the bacon and continue to cook until the bacon begins to turn golden. Remove bacon, allow to cool slightly and chop it up.
  2. Add chopped onion and minced garlic to the bacon drippings. Cook for 2 minutes until onion is just translucent.
  3. Add carrots and stir well to coat with the oil.
  4. Add broth, then stir. Cover with lid and cook for 20-25 minutes until carrot is very soft.
  5. Remove lid, turn heat off. Use an immersion blender to puree the carrots (or cool slightly and do in this in the blender).
  6. Add cream, milk, salt, and pepper to taste. Stir. Adjust thickness with milk (or water), if desired.
  7. Ladle soup into bowls. Garnish with a swirl of cream (or a dollop of sour cream), bacon, and chopped parsley.
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13 replies
      • SuperByteMan
        SuperByteMan says:

        You should add that statement to the recipe. I can’t be the only person who thought it was an ingredient of the soup. (like the bread like topping in some soups)

  1. PJ Miller
    PJ Miller says:

    “Emersion blender” made me giggle. What was going to emerge from that pot? I’m sure you meant “immersion blender” since you are going to immerse it in the soup.

  2. Kathy
    Kathy says:

    Am I missing something? At what point is the cheese added to the Beer Cheese Soup? And what does the white cheese popcorn have to do with the soup?

    • Mary Hunt
      Mary Hunt says:

      Hi Kathy … You weren’t missing anything. That was my faux pas … and it has been corrected in the recipe. The popcorn is for garnish and it is totally optional (but so yummy!)

  3. Linda H
    Linda H says:

    When my kids were little I made hamburger soup. I used hash browns in place of potatoes. The pieces were small enough that they could eat without difficulty and it was a big time saver. And no one could tell the difference.

  4. Steve Klamm
    Steve Klamm says:

    If you only have 20 minutes? Does prep time count? Then add the cooking time, 5 min saute, add ingredients, bring to boil, simmer for 20 min, Where did you learn math? Add it up! No butter on the list of ingredients?

    • Mary Hunt
      Mary Hunt says:

      The 20 Minutes is a broad term … approximately, about. I’m guilty as charged in my addition, although I must confess I didn’t intend this to be literal to the minute. Which of course I should have. My regrets and apologies! Two tablespoons butter should be the first ingredient, and it will be in just a few seconds.

      • Steve Klamm
        Steve Klamm says:

        Thanks for the correction! I am a budget counselor and appreciate all you do to get people out of debt!

  5. x_ray_tech
    x_ray_tech says:

    My easy soup recipe:
    One package organic boneless/skinless chicken thighs (about $5 at Walmart for pkg of 5 thighs)
    2 or 3 bags frozen organic mixed veggies ($1.88 at Walmart)
    Fresh organic baby spinach (about $3 at Walmart in clam pkg)
    Cover chicken with purified water (to about an inch above the chicken) in large pot and bring to boil. At boiling, reduce to simmer for 50-55 minutes until chicken shreds easily with fork. Shred chicken in the pot of water which is now broth. Bring to boil and add frozen veggies. Bring to simmer and add spinach. Simmer for 10 minutes and remove from heat. (Add more water – not too much – if necessary when adding veggies or spinach) Stir in salt, pepper, onion pwdr, garlic pwdr, about 40 good shakes of Turmeric pwdr., and some Tony Chachere’s Creole seasoning to taste. Whatever else you like. Stir, cover and let flavors mingle a while and serve. Deeelicious! Everything I use is organic except the creole.


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