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7 Homemade Soups That Help Reduce Food Waste

Image of tortilla soup

It happens to the best of us. You load up on groceries for a week of healthy meals—then life gets busy, and ordering take-out is all you can muster to get food on the table. A week goes by, and your fridge starts to look like a graveyard of good food gone bad. Waste not! Soup is the easiest (and tastiest) way to reduce food waste in your kitchen. How? With soup, anything goes. All you need is a large pot, B+ chopping skills and a well-stocked pantry. It’s a low-effort way to divert healthy food from the landfill and onto your table.

Here we break down 7 delicious soup recipes (with easy ingredient swaps and tips) to save your produce from going in the trash.

Getting Started
Before you start chopping, take inventory of your fridge and pantry. This will help determine what kind of soup to make. Start by focusing on what you have the most of. For instance, if you have a ton of onions, making French Onion Soup is a natural choice. However, more often than not, the average person has a variety of produce and perishables that need to be used. Taking inventory of both perishables and non-perishables will steer you in the direction of either a creamy, chunky, tomato-based, puréed, spicy or brothy soup. To set yourself up for success, keep several common soup-making ingredients on hand, and you’ll never be more than 90 minutes from reducing food waste with a warm pot of comforting soup.

Essential Soup Ingredients
Broth: vegetable or meat, homemade or store-bought
Dehydrated Mushrooms: an umami-packed alternative when you don’t have broth on hand. Simply rehydrate mushrooms and save the liquid to use as stock.
Dried Herbs and Spices: Italian Seasoning, Crushed Red Peppers, Curry Powder, Ground Cumin and Ground Turmeric make great flavor boosters.
Vinegar or Lemon Juice: a splash of sherry vinegar, apple cider vinegar or fresh lemon juice is the best way to balance flavors and brighten soup.
Canned Tomatoes: a necessary ingredient to bolster chili and add to minestrone.
Canned Coconut: an exotic way to add creaminess to soup when you don’t have a dairy or dairy-free alternative on hand.
Melissa’s Steamed Line: our variety of ready-to-use steamed beans, legumes and veggies are all that’s needed to take a soup to the next level.
Melissa’s Organic Soup Starter Kit: an essential base of soup ingredients that includes mirepoix (carrots, onions and celery), potatoes and zucchini. Keep it on hand as a building block for great soup.
Noodles and Rice: add noodles or rice and your soup just became a meal.

7 Homemade Soup Recipes That Help Reduce Food Waste

Gingery Chicken Noodle Soup
Image of gingery Chicken Noodle Soup

Chicken soup for your soul… and immune system thanks to the power of ginger.

Use it Up: Ginger, onion, carrots, garlic, edamame, cilantro

Throw it in: Bok choy, Napa cabbage, choy sum, gai lan, Shanghai leaves, sno peas, bitter melon, opo squash

Simple Swap: No chicken? Use tofu instead.

Smoky Plant-Based Chili
Image of Smokey Plant Based Chili

It’s the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink soup with smoky satisfaction.

Use it up: Carrots, celery, zucchini, potatoes, fresh herbs

Throw it in: Corn, chayote, mushrooms, cactus leaves, bell peppers, chili peppers, tomatoes, kale, dried or canned beans

Top tip: Most chili recipes have a laundry list of dried spices—this recipe gets a major flavor boost from just one ingredient: Melissa’s Soyrizo. Besides smoked paprika, that’s all you need.

Ramen Soup for the Soul
Sriracha Ramen

A plant-based slurpable soup with loads of umami thanks to dried shiitake mushrooms, tamari and veggies.

Use it up: Mushrooms, baby bok choy, shelled edamame, radishes, ginger

Throw it in: Corn, sweet potatoes, scallions, asparagus, daikon, yu choy sum, watercress, lotus root, baby broccoli, shishitos

Simple swaps: Don’t have vegetable broth? Go zero waste and make it yourself by boiling veggie scraps in water with a dash of salt, several peppercorns and a bay leaf.

Creamy Coconut Immunity Soup with Turmeric
Image of Creamy Coconut Turmeric

Golden-hued turmeric brightens a pureed soup like no other.

Use it up: Carrots, celery, potatoes, zucchini

Throw it in: Cauliflower, broccoli stems, leeks, sweet potatoes, potatoes

Top Tip: Did you know that the best way to get a turmeric stain out of your blender is to place it in the sun long enough for the sun to bleach it out?

Hatch Pepper Chicken Tortilla Soup
Image of Hatch Tortilla Soup

This recipe uses big, flavorful, and meaty Hatch peppers, but any mild green chile pepper will do.

Use It Up: Bell peppers, corn, carrots, celery, chilis

Throw it in: Sweet potato, mushrooms, tomatoes, cilantro, marjoram

Simple Swaps: Roasted Hatch peppers are truly what makes this recipe great—but Anaheims, poblanos or Hungarian wax peppers are delicious all the same.

Image of Gazpacho Soup

Too many peak ripe tomatoes call for gazpacho—a most deliciously refreshing chilled soup.

Use it up: Tomatoes, red and green bell peppers, cucumbers, onions, celery, garlic

Throw it in: zucchini, strawberries, citrus zest, jicama, apples, Korean pears, fresh herbs.

Top tip: Let the flavors meld together overnight before serving.

Wild Rice Soup with Herb and Butter Roasted Mushrooms
Image of Wild Rice Soup with Herb and Butter Roasted Mushrooms

If you have loads of fresh mushrooms to use—this soup delivers. But if you don’t, dried mushrooms are just as good as the real deal.

Use it up: Mushrooms (of all types), potatoes, carrots, celery, fresh herbs, heavy cream or milk

Throw it in: Spinach, kale, fresh herbs, sweet potatoes, cooked rice, white beans

Top Tip: If you’re using fresh mushrooms, replace the mushroom broth with veggie broth.

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