Turn These Frozen Cubes Into Soup in Minutes

This is the secret to having a bowl of soup ready in minutes.

Freezer Soup Base

Matt Taylor-Gross

It’s winter, and many of us are going all-in on homemade stock to keep in the freezer for a season’s worth of soups and stews. And while stock is a terrific thing to have on hand, it requires a lot of work to turn it into soup or stew. I love a cozy day-long soup project as much as the next person, but frankly, more often I want something simple and fast. Sure, you can make large batches of soup and freeze them, but if your freezer is anything like mine, it is already pretty full — there’s little room for bulky containers of soup. 

To solve this problem, I make concentrated vegetable soup base, and freeze it in half-cup portions; silicon freezer cubes or any freezer-safe containers work well here. The soup base is plant-based, so is perfect for vegetarians and vegans, and allows you to eliminate having to simmer bones for hours. It packs a wallop of flavor; you can simply reconstitute it in either water or stock to turn it into a sippable soup on its own. But the real magic here is that just adding a few other ingredients turns the base into all sorts of other soups, from a classic minestrone to vegetable barley, hearty lentil, or rich tomato soup. Once you have the frozen cubes, you can empty your fridge of leftovers and your pantry of stray beans and pasta while you let your imagination run wild.

Simply heat a half-cup cube of soup base with one quart of water to start; without anything else added, it will make one quart of basic vegetable soup. From there you can add up to three cups of chopped vegetables, beans, rice, or pasta. 

Here's how to use this base to make all kinds of soup and stew: 

Add a 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes to the pot and then fill the can with water and add that, for a terrific and complex tomato soup. Add a splash of cream at the end if you want a bisque, or cubes of toasted bread for a pappa al pomodoro.

Add chicken or vegetable stock, a can of drained chickpeas, and any other vegetables you have hanging about, along with some dried oregano or Italian spice blend for a version of a minestrone.

Add stock or water, a can of cannellini beans with their liquid, some small pasta shapes and Parmesan and basil for a pasta fagioli.

Add water, half a head of chopped green cabbage, a chopped onion, a grated apple, 2 tablespoons of brown sugar and a tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar for a sweet and sour cabbage soup.

Add a cube to your next batch of chili or stew to amp up the flavor, or thaw and stir it into the water for a batch of rice. 

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