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Prairie Fare: Seven Steps to Creating a Soup

Julie Garden-Robinson, NDSU Extension Service food and nutrition specialist Julie Garden-Robinson, NDSU Extension Service food and nutrition specialist
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Soup can be a hearty meal and a good place to use your leftovers.

By Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist

NDSU Extension Service

“I made the wild rice soup mix, but I added a few things,” my husband commented one day on our way home.

“That sounds good,” I responded.

“We had carrots, celery and onions in the fridge, so I chopped them and added them to the soup,” he said.

I nodded my head. I knew the perishable veggies in the refrigerator needed to find their way into a recipe soon.

“We had some leftover mashed potatoes, mixed vegetables, chicken and crumbled bacon, so I added those to the soup,” he continued.

I think I raised my eyebrows and looked at him at this point.

“Do you think the kids will eat it?” I asked.

“They already ate and they all had seconds. They raved about it,” he said.

Soup can be a hearty meal and a good place to use your leftovers. Remember that most leftovers have a storage life of about four days in your refrigerator for best quality and safety. You can freeze them in airtight freezer containers to extend their storage life. Be sure to mark the container with the contents, amount and date.

You can learn more about food storage times using the “Food Storage Guide” publication at

If you are feeling creative, here is how to “create your own soup” in seven easy steps adapted from Utah State University. How about potato soup with ham, chopped celery and carrots? Chicken-rice soup with leftover mixed vegetables, grilled chicken, rosemary and parsley also makes a nice pairing.

(1. Choose one fat.

  • 2 Tbsp. canola, sunflower, olive or other oil or 2 Tbsp. butter or 2 Tbsp. margarine. Heat in large pot on stove.

(2. Rinse and chop 1 medium onion. Add to pot and cook over medium heat until tender.

(3. Choose one broth to add to the pot.

  • 2 (16-ounce) cans chicken, beef or vegetable broth
  • 4 c. water plus chicken, beef or vegetable bouillon or soup base prepared according to manufacturer’s directions
  • 1 (16-ounce) can crushed or diced tomatoes and 3 cups water
  • 4 c. milk and chicken bouillon or soup base prepared according to manufacturer’s directions

(4. Choose one protein to add.

  • 1 pound cooked (or leftover) chopped/diced beef, chicken, ham, lean sausage, etc.
  • 1 (16-ounce) can beef, chicken, ham
  • 1 (16-ounce) can beans (pinto, kidney, navy, black, etc.), drained and rinsed

(5. Choose one starch to add.

  • 3 to 4 c. diced potatoes
  • 4 ounces egg noodles, macaroni, pasta (or 1 1/2 c. leftover cooked noodles)
  • 1/2 c. uncooked rice (or 1 1/2 c. leftover cooked rice)

(6. Choose a mixture of 2 to 3 cups chopped vegetables (fresh, frozen or canned) to add to the pot.

(7. Choose one or more seasonings, add to pot and simmer 20 to 25 minutes or until vegetables tender.

  • 1 to 2 tsp. dried herbs (oregano, basil, cumin, chili powder, thyme, rosemary, parsley etc.)
  • Bay leaf (remove before serving)
  • Minced garlic
  • 1 to 2 Tbsp. fresh herbs (add 5 minutes before serving)

For more information about food and nutrition, visit or check out the Prairie Fare blog at

If you prefer a recipe, here is a fiber-rich formulation courtesy of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Onondaga County, New York.

Zesty Black Bean Soup

1 c. onion, chopped

3/4 c. celery, chopped

2 tsp. garlic, chopped

1 1/2 c. beef broth, reduced-sodium

2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 c. salsa (thick and chunky, mild or medium)

1 1/2 tsp. cumin

1/2 tsp. onion powder

1/4 tsp. dried oregano

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan. Cover and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Makes four servings (1 1/4 cups per serving). Each serving has 160 calories, 1 gram (g) of fat, 27 g of carbohydrate, 8 g of dietary fiber, 8 g of protein and 360 milligrams of sodium (36 percent of the daily value).

(Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., R.D., L.R.D., is a North Dakota State University Extension Service food and nutrition specialist and professor in the Department of Health, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences.)

NDSU Agriculture Communication – April 4, 2013

Source:Julie Garden-Robinson, (701) 231-7187,
Editor:Rich Mattern, (701) 231-6136,
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