16 Super-Satisfying, Quick Soup Recipes for Dinner
Winter soup season is here. See how to turn a hearty bowl of cozy comfort into a meal — with delicious dinner soup recipes you can pull off on a weeknight.
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Best-Ever Broccoli Cheese Soup; photograph by Olga Ivanova
As a kid, I thought my mom had a pretty impressive arsenal of hearty soups that ate like a meal (just like a certain canned-soup company). She made a mean mushroom barley soup, corn chowder, tomato soup with rice, and of course chicken noodle soup — with matzo balls for the Jewish holidays. That was in the 1970s and 80s, when “Asian” in our part of New York only meant Chinese and my local supermarket’s “ethnic” aisle featured Americanized convenience foods like taco mix, canned chow mein, and rice pilaf mix. I still cook all my mom’s soup recipes, especially when I’m looking for comfort food, but my soup horizons have expanded along with the country’s appetite for new flavors.
Now, as the cold weather sets in, my family has nourishing soup for dinner at least once a week. On a busy weeknight, it just makes sense to choose a quick recipe with minimal prep time, where all you need alongside is a salad and some crusty bread. I admit, sometimes I go a little crazy with the soup-for-dinner idea: Last week, we ate a soup trifecta of French onion soup (which has the bread built-in), vegetarian lentil soup with sourdough, and matzo ball soup with challah. I may scale back a bit this week…
Just kidding. Having soup for dinner is just too convenient.
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16 of the best soup ideas for dinner — and what to serve with them
You’re ready to think about recipes. But first, what goes with soup for dinner? All you need to turn any of these into a complete meal is a simple salad (I’m always happy with something bright and lemony) and a loaf of crusty bread.
Creamy and pureed soup recipes
When I’m looking for the most comforting soup possible, I usually turn to something smooth, rich, and creamy.
Here's one of my favorites: Oodles of cheddar cheese, chopped broccoli, chicken broth, and a handful of other ingredients combine in a bowl of cheesy goodness that's ready in 30 minutes. Prepared with veggie broth, it's vegetarian (and still delicious).
This sumptuous vegan soup offers tons of flavor while also being almost shockingly good for you. It’s made with nothing but cauliflower and a handful of aromatic vegetables, a little extra-virgin olive oil, broth, and cozy spices like cumin, ginger, and turmeric.
The secret to an excellent creamy soup: Keep it simple. This one gets its flavor from umami-rich sliced mushrooms, sauteed until golden along with onion, garlic, and thyme. Add a little flour for thickening, some broth, and simmer. Then finish it off with a generous pour of heavy cream. Luscious.
This clever recipe takes 1 ½ hours total time, but most of it requires no hands-on attention at all — you’re softening spiced butternut squash, carrots, onions, garlic in the oven. You don’t even have to stir! When it’s all done, give it a quick whir to puree into a velvety bowl of comfort. I’d serve this with grilled cheese sandwiches for dunking.
Hearty bean soup recipes
When it comes to healthy soup recipes for dinner, it’s hard to beat one that starts with beans. With all that fiber and protein, a bowl for lunch keeps me chugging all day.
I love making soup in the Instant Pot. Once you saute the aromatics, you put in almost everything else, seal it up, and walk away. Open the lid about 30 minutes later and you’ll find perfectly cooked lentils and an assortment of vegetables, ready for you to add a few handfuls of hearty greens to wilt in the herb-flecked broth.
A fast, vegan version of a classic winter soup, this recipe swaps out the usual ham for a bit of liquid smoke — but you could also use smoked paprika. It may look humble, but one bowl offers maximum coziness as well as being super-filling. I really like this one with pumpernickel bread.
Can I just say, I adore this kind of soup? A single bowl covers every base, in terms of flavor and nutrition. It’s absolutely packed with vegetables like diced sweet potato, red pepper, and kale. Chickpeas add protein, and farro brings whole grains to the party — and for the simplest, most powerful seasoning, it calls for ready-made Thai red curry paste. Wins all around.
In less than half an hour, you can be serving steaming bowls filled with chicken breast, white beans, spinach, and a tomatoey broth scented with dried herbs. This one’s crying out for a good hunk of bread to dunk and a sprinkle of freshly grated Parmesan on top. And did I mention that the recipe serves 8, so you’ll have plenty left over for lunches?
Meat-lovers’ soup recipes
I may sing the virtues of vegetarian and vegan soups, but I live with some dedicated meat-o-philes. These soups delight us all.
My family’s always happy when something Mexican-inspired is on the menu. With so many flavors and textures, from the shredded chicken to the salsa verde, cumin, and chili powder, to the garnish of crispy tortilla strips, creamy avocado, and fresh cilantro, this soup has got everything.
Think of this as a really good minestrone soup, with the bonus addition of browned ground beef. It’s bursting with veggies and white beans, with dried Italian seasoning and a generous amount of red pepper flakes. If you grate your own Parmesan cheese, keep the rinds in the freezer — toss one into the soup pot while it simmers for extra flavor.
Let’s get this out of the way: There’s nothing remotely authentic about this recipe, but it tastes so good I don’t mind. It’s kind of like a bowl of gluten-free ramen, starring turkey broth (though you could sub chicken broth) zhuzhed up with ingredients like fish sauce, star anise, and ginger; several cups of shredded turkey; rice noodles; and a ton of fun garnishes.
There’s a bit of a cheat with this recipe, since you’re first cooking corned beef with leeks, garlic, carrots, and bell pepper, and then turning it into soup. Do that first part on the weekend (or follow the recipe’s slow cooker or Instant Pot instructions in the morning before work), and dinner will be ready in under an hour. It’s worth the effort. Or if your family eats corned beef somewhat regularly, save this recipe in your back pocket to use up leftovers.
“Stoup” and extra-hearty soup recipes
Celebrity chef Rachael Ray coined the term “stoup,” I believe, to describe her extra-thick soups that were almost, but not quite, stews. These are the rib-sticking soup recipes to pull out on a wintry evening.
This souped-up potato soup comes from Ms. Ray herself. Making it couldn’t be easier: Brown some sweet Italian sausage; add onion, garlic, fresh fennel, and thinly sliced potatoes; and simmer with a splash of white wine and some chicken broth. When everything’s tender, stir in fennel fronds and fresh herbs — and don’t forget to top each bowl with a little grated Asiago or Grana Padano cheese (Parmesan will do, too, if you don’t have either of those).
If I had to pick a favorite soup out of all the recipes in the world, one I could happily eat every day, it would be Italian wedding soup. The mini-meatballs (I make mine with ground turkey), the pastina, the escarole… it’s hearty and rich, but still brothy and fresh-tasting. This version gets cooked in the slow cooker — gotta love an excuse to use the Crock Pot. And the prep time is only 15 minutes! Definitely add a Parmesan rind to the pot if you have one.
This curry soup is so vibrant, with tons of fresh vegetables and herbs, chicken, rice noodles, and coconut milk spiked with red curry paste, chili garlic sauce, soy sauce, and brown sugar. It hits all the salty-sweet-sour notes and then some. Grab a fork, because you’ll need more than a spoon for this bowl.
A beautiful red bell pepper stuffed with ground meat, rice, and tomatoes takes me to my happy place. But some days I just don’t feel like futzing with carefully trimming the peppers, filling each, propping them upright in the pot, and making sure they cook all the way through. Turning all the ingredients into a big pot of soup — especially one made in the Instant Pot — solves all my problems. I get the flavors I love without all the fuss. (Pro tip: Add a splash of Worcestershire sauce for an umami boost.)
More soups to warm you from the inside out
Don’t put away that soup pot just yet, because we have lots more ideas to explore in these next articles.