What happens when the thermostat starts to dip, and your stomach starts to growl? Soup season has officially started. But let’s be honest, the offerings from your local take-out joint and the cans at the grocery store can never compare to a steaming bowl of the homemade stuff. That’s why we highly suggest you learn a thing or two about these popular types of soup so you can take matters into your own hands and cook up a restorative broth at home. We promise your meal will be souper. (C’mon, we couldn’t resist.)
16 Types of Soup You Should Know How to Make
1. Chicken Noodle Soup
- Why We Love It: versatile, crowd-pleasing, kid-friendly, high protein
Chicken soup has been around since time immemorial and cultures across the world have their own version of this classic comfort food. When it comes to classic American chicken soup, though, you can typically count on a steaming bowl full of homemade chicken stock, flavored with celery, carrots, noodles and chicken. (Note: The poached egg, as seen above, is an optional add-on—but it does make more an extra decadent dish.)
2. Italian Wedding Soup
- Why We Love It: hearty, high protein
Fun fact: Italian wedding soup has nothing to do with matrimony and it isn’t actually served at Italian weddings—it’s actually just a poor translation of minestra maritata. To be fair, maritata does mean married but in this instance, it’s referring to a different type of union—namely the marriage of flavors. That said, the combination of savory pork meatballs and bitter greens in this hearty dish does indeed taste like true love.
- Why We Love It: vegetarian, hearty, versatile
Minestrone has been around for hundreds of years, but the recipe for this Italian soup isn’t set in stone. In fact, by definition minestrone soup is simply a vegetable medley, made using whatever produce one has on hand. Celery, tomatoes, garlic, onions and carrots often comprise the base of the soup, while additional ingredients (like beans and greens) can be added depending on whatever is fresh and abundant. Bottom line: No matter how you do up your minestrone, you’ll be treated to a satisfying and healthy meal.
4. Lentil Soup
- Why We Love It: vegetarian-optional, high protein, versatile
Lentils are believed to be the first legume ever cultivated, so it’s no surprise that lentil soups and stews have a rich history. (These little gems even make an appearance in the Old Testament.) Lentil soup is popular throughout the Middle East (the legume’s birthplace), Europe and Latin America—and various recipes will reflect the culture from which they came. In fact, the possibilities are endless with this soup: Hearty lentils stand up well to a huge variety of seasonings (curry powder! Cumin! Thyme!) and pair beautifully with a host of other ingredients, from bacon to tomatoes.
5. Tomato Soup
- Why We Love It: vegetarian, creamy, kid-friendly, versatile
Another classic comfort food, tomato soup became an American household staple when a chemist working at Campbell’s came up with the idea to condense the stuff back in 1897. And while we have no problem reaching for a can every now and then, you can’t beat snuggling up with a homemade bowl of sweet and silky tomato soup (preferably served with a side of grilled cheese).
6. New England Clam Chowder
- Why We Love It: creamy, hearty, crowd-pleasing
New England clam chowder was first introduced to the region in the 18th century, the pros from What’s Cooking America tell us, and its popularity in American cuisine has not diminished since. Rich, thick and creamy, this chowder comes together with copious amounts of milk or cream, plus salt pork (i.e., bacon), celery, potatoes, onion and, of course, tender clams. This indulgent meal is traditionally served with oyster crackers which can be used for dipping or as a garnish.
7. French Onion Soup
- Why We Love It: rich, vegetarian-optional
Onion soups have been around for ages as a poor man’s meal, but it was thanks to the restaurants of the famed Les Halles market in Paris that this peasant food got its luxe makeover in the form of a gratin, and we’re oh-so grateful. A gooey, bubbling layer of Gruyère cheese adorns this rich, amber broth of beef stock and caramelized onions—a combination that can only be described as délicieuse.
8. Chicken Tortilla Soup
- Why We Love It: hearty, versatile, high protein, kid-friendly
The origins of this traditional Mexican soup (sopa de tortilla in Spanish) are unclear, but it is believed to hail from Mexico City and features all the favorite flavors of the region. Chicken stock meets sweet roasted tomatoes, onion, garlic and chiles to make the base of this satisfying dish, to which chicken meat, beans, corn and crunchy fried tortilla are also added. The end result? A heartwarming and filling bowl of deliciousness.
9. Butternut Squash Soup
- Why We Love It: creamy, vegan-optional, versatile
A seasonal staple in the fall, roasted butternut squash puree is thinned out with chicken stock to make this smooth, savory soup. Other seasonal ingredients (think: apples and root vegetables) are often roasted and whipped up along with the squash for an even bigger flavor. Note: The soup pictured above is completely vegan, but meat-lovers can feel free to garnish their bowl with crispy bacon for a pleasantly salty finish.
10. Beef and Barley Soup
- Why We Love It: hearty, versatile, high protein
This traditional Scottish soup (also known as Scotch broth) boasts a hearty combination of barley, root vegetables and slow-cooking stew meat like beef or lamb chuck (or beef short rib, for a fancy twist). Cook it low and slow for meltingly tender meat, chewy barley and a light but flavorful broth that will make you swoon.
11. Corn Chowder
- Why We Love It: creamy, vegetarian-optional
Sometimes you just want to dip your spoon into something truly rich and creamy. Enter corn chowder: This American favorite consists of corn as the main ingredient and base, along with celery, cream and (you guessed it) butter. The finished product is silky and decadent—like a casserole you can slurp.
12. Chicken and Rice Soup
- Why We Love It: high protein, hearty, gluten free
This one’s as comforting as chicken noodle soup, sans the gluten. Chicken and rice soup follows the same basic formula—a mirepoix of celery, carrots and onion, swimming alongside chicken in a light but flavorful chicken broth. The key difference is that this adaptation of the classic replaces pasta with rice for a healthier and more flavorful result (but only if you opt for brown or wild rice).
13. Split Pea Soup
- Why We Love It: hearty, versatile
Peas and ham are, well, two peas in a pod—which is why you can reliably find them commingling in a bowl of split pea soup. This soup, often portrayed as unappetizing cafeteria fare, has gotten a bad rap. Admittedly, the split pea is not the most glamorous legume, but we’re happy to report that the prejudice against split pea soup is baseless: When prepared properly (i.e., with a mirepoix and plenty of fresh herbs), this comfort food is far from bland and boasts a hearty texture similar to lentil soup.
- Why We Love It: hearty, special occasion–worthy, pescatarian
This Mediterranean gem hails from the Provencal city of Marseilles—a feast of fresh-caught fish, which simmer in a complex and fragrant broth. The rich fish stock base of this soup is taken to the next level when sweet tomato teams up with aromatic heavy-hitters like garlic, fennel, thyme and saffron. The end result is a seafood masterpiece worthy of an encore.
15. Cream of Mushroom Soup
- Why We Love It: creamy, versatile, vegetarian-optional
Mushrooms are a weirdly divisive ingredient—but for those who delight in their umami character and satisfyingly meaty texture, cream of mushroom soup is a cold weather menu must-have. Cream of mushroom soup gets its luxurious silky character from cream and roux (an equal ratio of flour and butter that thickens things up), and its deep flavor from roasted mushrooms, onion, garlic and thyme. Note: Don’t confuse the homemade kind with the canned casserole ingredient, because they are worlds apart.
16. Miso Soup
- Why We Love It: light, versatile, vegetarian-optional
This Japanese dish begins with dashi—a stock made from kelp, anchovies, mushrooms and dried, fermented skipjack tuna (katsuoboshi) that plays a major role in Japanese cuisine. When you give the delicate, umami-driven broth known as dashi an extra flavor boost with miso (i.e., fermented soybean paste), you’ve got miso soup. Tofu and seaweed are commonly added to this light, savory soup—but you can always beef it up with soba noodles and mushrooms, as pictured here, for a more substantial bowl.