Swiss chard soup The Prudent Homemaker
Swiss Chard (Silverbeet) Soup

This tip works regardless of where you live. This last week I’ve received letters from women in Denmark, Brazil, and Australia. I know that not all of the things that I am doing to keep my grocery bill as low as possible will work everywhere in the world (buying in bulk, for instance), but this is a tip that works for everyone, in every country. It’s something that has been done for thousands of years.

The tip is simple: Eat more soup! Not just once in a while. Having soup once a day really helps us to keep our grocery bill down.

There are all kinds of soups, including very expensive soups, but the least expensive soups are the ones I strive to put on the table at my house.

Chicken Noodle Soup

Most of them are meatless. If they do have meat, it is a very small amount, and I serve those soups less often.

Soups can be cold or hot. They can be made ahead of time and you can eat from them for several meals. If you’re single, a large pot of soup might be your lunch for the week. If you want variety, you can freeze several servings of the soup to pull out for a quick meal for another day.

Minestrone Soup The Prudent Homemaker
Minestrone Soup

Most days, our lunch is where we have soup. It’s easiest for me to start a pot of soup in the morning while I’m making breakfast for us to have at lunch. This is the beauty of soup as well: it can cook while you’re doing something else. You can make a batch of soup while you’re preparing another meal, and it can cook while you do something else (like make bread!)

Pea Soup

“But Brandy, wasn’t it 105º at your house today? I don’t want to make soup when it’s hot outside!”

We had soup for lunch today anyway. Of course, when the weather is colder soup is more welcomed. Perhaps for your family, you will find that you can serve soup every day when it’s colder and everyone will be thrilled (especially if you make homemade bread to go with it!) In the springtime, I can serve soup with a salad from the garden. Occasionally, we’ll have soup with a sandwich, which usually means I’ll have leftover soup for another meal.

There are days when we have leftovers for lunch and soup for dinner.

And while we don’t always have it every day, it’s on the menu at least 4 times a week, and often more. I find that when I get away from having soup as often, the cost of our menus rises significantly. Soup is the best solution for quickly lowering our costs.

Tuscan Tomato Soup
Tuscan Tomato Bread Soup

If you’re looking for a few low-cost soups, check out my soups page.

See how I incorporate soups into our fall menu (and our spring menu, for those of you who are reading from the other hemisphere!)

I’d like to take this opportunity to announce that my recipe for Swiss chard soup is now available on my website! You can find it here.

What are your favorite frugal soups?

(We’re not talking about lobster bisque here! Make sure they’re inexpensive.) Share the soups that cost you very little to make! You can post links to some of your favorites in your comments.

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  1. I make lentil soup fairly regularly. I also make a pumpkin pasta soup; it calls for pastina pasta (little stars), and I managed to get two free boxes several months ago with coupons. The pumpkin is usually from our garden (pureed and frozen). My favorite kind of soup is one made from combining little bits of this and that in my refrigerator and frozen leftovers to create a soup. I made a chickpea soup yesterday that uses leftover chickpea stew and an assortment of other leftovers and “vegetable scrap” broth. I added chopped onion and carrots, as well as chopped baby spinach. Serving soup or chili every week is very practical and economical. I also often save a full family-sized dinner portion of chili or soup in my freezer for an “emergency” dinner that I can thaw easily when my son has sports events or school activities.

  2. I am not sure if this has already been mentioned but I make a pot of soup about every two weeks with leftovers in the refrigerator. It is really good and tasty. Vegetables of all kinds and proteins all count. Sometimes I’ll add barley or noodles sometimes not.

  3. Sorry this isn’t a soup comment – I just found your blog and enjoyed reading some older posts. When you make your HE laundry soap – and go to use it do you place it in the front loading door or in the soap dispenser? I’ve never used powdered soap so just wondering… Thanks!

  4. We like ham hock and beans. It is very simple. We use the bone that is left over from a ham and cook it with dried navy or lima beans, onions, celery, salt and pepper. That’s it. Very simple and very inexpensive. Minestrone is also very welcome at our house as is chili. We like split pea, potato (If I have cream on sale, I only have to use just a little to bring in the creaminess), or just chicken noodle. Sometimes instead of chicken noodle, I will make a thicker broth and put dumplings on top. It is a nice change and quicker than homemade bread if I haven’t thought ahead of time (Biscuits also are good like that with soup).

  5. One of the ladies above mentioned Chicken and Dumplings. We use flour tortillas for our “dumplings.” Just cut them in strips and add them near the end. Our favorite here is Lentil Stew. 3 cups lentils1 cup brown rice8 cups water4 cups broth 2 tsp garlic1 tsp thyme1 bay leaf1 ½ tsp salt½ tsp pepper Ham hock Combine all in a pot and bring to a boil. Turn to medium low and let simmer for 1 hour or until water is absorbed. Serve with shredded cheese.

  6. I have a inexpensive and tasty black bean soup recipe.Into my blender I put about 1 1/3 cans of black beans (about 2 cups), 1/4 cup salsa or picante sauce, chili powder, cumin, and either water, chicken or vegetable broth about a 1/4 cup, enough to let everything blend. (No, I don’t have a fancy blender). This makes a nice creamy soup. Put it in a pot with the rest of the black beans (about a cup). I like to add frozen corn, sometimes some more salsa, and at the end I add frozen spinach. You can also add more broth if you like.I bake corn tortillas into chips and put them at the bottom of the bowl. The soup is tasty, quick and cheap!

  7. Would you believe my zucchini plants died after the first few months? I was able to use some fresh and made zucchini relish but didn’t have enough to freeze! Thankfully, we were given a few ENORMOUS ones so I will be able to do so anyway. I just couldn’t believe my own zucchini plants died. I have never heard of such a thing. I guess this is the year. 😉

  8. We like this one, hot or cold. If you grow bell peppers, very cheap – Carrot and Red Pepper SoupVegetarian Cooking for EveryoneDeborah Madison2 T. butter or olive oil1 red bell pepper, cut into 1 inch pieces2 cups diced onion1 lb. carrots, thinly sliced2 T. white riceSea salt and freshly milled pepper2 T. parsley, chopped3 T. dill chopped or 1 1/2 T. dried dillGrated zest and juice of 1 orange6 cups water or basic vegetable stockMelt the butter in a soup pot and add the pepper, onion, carrots, rice and 1 teaspoon sea salt. Cook over medium heat, covered until the onion has softened completely, about 10 minutes, stirring several times. Add a grind of pepper, the parsley, dill, orange zest, juice and water. Bring to a boil, then simmer, partially covered, until the rice is cooked, about 25 minutes. Cool briefly, then puree all but a cup or two of the soup and return it to the pot. Taste for salt, season with pepper, garnish and serve. This soup may be served hot as well as chilled.

  9. Thank you Brandy for putting together another great blog post and for every one who contributes. I’m definitely going to try some of the recipes posted. I’m the only one eating at home now so I’m especially motivated by the comments of making soup just for yourself. I like to make broccoli soup with the stems and stalks. Here is the basic recipe, but I adapt to what I have on hand. I use vegetable stock and rarely whole potatoes like the recipe calls for. Instead I use leftover mashed potatoes or potato flakes if I have to. Cooked white beans also works to thicken and also adds protein. I also chop a few florets very fine to add after blending it just to make it look a little nicer. My daughter makes it with water instead of stock and garnishes with shredded cheese and croutons.

  10. My family tends to enjoy minstrone type soups (it’s always kind of random based on what we have on hand) or cream based soups (don’t always have dairy in them though).What I dislike are mushy noodles. I’ve started making the soup, and then a small amount of noodles to mix in when I serve it. I then keep them seperated in the fridge. I’ve found by doing this, I’ll eat soup as leftovers much more often.

  11. Zucchini are generally quite prolific here in Arkansas, sort of like kudzu! But I know one woman who lost all her plants overnight because it appeared a herd of gophers had gone through underground and tore up the roots. (Gophers and moles are terrible pests here.)

  12. Hi Ellen, You might want to consider dehydrated potatoes instead of canned. I think they would be cheaper and much easier to store. I don’t buy them myself, but I’m sure someone here would know of a place you could order them.

  13. Definitely a different part of Texas than I am, I’m in Central Texas near the capital and our cheap milk is at the grocer is 2.98, at Sam’s sometimes as low as $2.50, but since I live over 30 miles from Sam’s I only go once a month twice at most. Gas station milk is always higher because they only provide I as a convenience, you pay more for conveniences

  14. What an interesting idea! I do love soup, but I generally consider it a cold-weather food (and you don’t have cold weather).A favorite soup of ours is very simple: cook dried beans until very, very soft with a dried chipotle pepper (or a hot pepper and a few drops of liquid smoke) and some chopped onions or garlic. Puree with some tomatoes, preferably peeled ones, and reheat gently. Add salt and pepper. Serve with cheese quesadillas or bread and cheese.There’s also a market soup we love: chop and then boil together in some chicken or vegetable stock: 1 apple, 1 potato, 1 rib of celery, 1 onion, and 1 banana. Puree. Add 1-2 tsp. curry powder, a little cream, and serve hot or chilled, especially nice garnished with some chives.

  15. Usually I grate up the stalks when fresh and add to cole slaw or just slice them into green salad. This is a good tip you posted. I have seen in store where they charge much more for just the crowns of broccoli. I never understood that since the stems are so versatile. I save all my snapped ends of asparagus, trim , peel if needed and freeze to use for making the cream of asparagus soup. Very similar to your broccoli soup, though I never thought of using potato to thicken. I am taking that idea!

  16. I can not waste. I cant bring myself to do it.. (unless its beyond saving of course, then it goes in the compost). To keep from wasting the scraps that comes from paring veggies, I simply turn them into veggie broth. My husband is a HUGE city boy, but over the last 20 years he has learned that my methods save us a lot of $$. To make the trimmings into broth I simply place them all (I collect them over the week in a bag in the fridge) cover them with water and boil them. I do mean all the trimmings!! Tomato cores, potato peels, cucumber peels, apple peels and/or cores, withered berries, cabbage leaves, lettuce cores and leaves, carrot tops, celery trimmings, bell pepper tops and seeds, seeds from the cucumber, onion skins, broccoli trimmings, even the soft spots of some veggies/fruits go in there (no rotted food of course). Bring all that to a boil and let it cook about 20 mins or longer. Depending on what I want to do with the broth I will either strain it, or put the solid matter into the blender and puree’ it. The pureed broth is great for heavier soups (like stew or chili) and the clear broth is great for chicken noodle or vegetable soup. I mostly puree’ (and I still use it in the vegetable soup), I feel so accomplished when I have made a meal, that has extendable servings (hubby’s lunches), and I didn’t waste a single bit !! My husband works VERY hard for the $$ we have and I intend to keep as much of it as possible!!

  17. I am enjoying your website and blog so much, thanks you. The only thing I’m struggling with is that I don’t use processed things. I have taken a holistic approach to cooking and life. I don’t use some of the things that you have used even though they save money on the food budgets. I hope to use what I do with cook and incorporate what you do and what I do and make it work for our family. I’m a natural living kind of girl. Thanks so much for the inspiration.

  18. Another great potato soup recipe that isn’t too terribly expensive and is quite healthy need be you can get away with less milk and just add more chicken broth or water (I do this a lot to save on milk). I also tend to puree the carrots and stir them in so picky eaters cannot eat around them.Freezes well too 🙂

  19. I LOVE LOVE LOVE Soup. I was reading through your series, and this was my favorite post. I especially loved all of the comments. In my house its just the hubby and I (and two dogs that DONOT eat human food). I make a pot of soup every week on Monday, since that is the day we both work late. Sometimes its a planned soup like Lentil & Ham Hock and sometimes its “Thursday Soup” Better known as “Dave Ramsey Soup”. I make them in the crockpot 60% of the time and don’t follow a recipe at all. Pretty much its liquid (broth, milk, juice whatever) protein (beans, legumes, meat scraps) and veggies (onion, celery, carrot, whatever is left over and is on its way out). We love having the pot of soup as a go to lunch/ snack after the gym. And I HATE food waste so everything that might get tossed either goes in the soup on Monday or in the “Thursday soup bag” in the freezer if it doesn’t go with that weeks soup theme.

  20. I love to both make and eat pea and ham soup. After we have had ham hock (usually for Sunday dinner) and all of the ham is gone from various other meals, I boil the skin and bones from the hock in water. I them strain it and discard the bones but keep all of the water. Chop an onion, throw in some dehydrated peas add the hock liquor and boil. Sometime I add more water to make it go further. Its so yummy! If we have left over mashed potatoes we like to have potato scones with it x

  21. Soup and bread are a staple for me……but I have learned a very good lesson:
    make whole wheat bread, it is filling and MUCH healthier for the body. It fills the
    teenage stomachs up also!!! Years ago, I invested in a grain grinder and we keep
    a year’s supply of wheat kernels on hand so we are saving a lot of money making
    our own whole wheat flour.
    I still make french bread and love my recipe, but only if the soup has a lot of fiber,
    such as my Italialn lentil cracked wheat stew with just a taste of sausage to flavor it.

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