Bare Pantry Soup


s I’ve alluded to in a previous post, one of my strategies for staying on the grocery budget is to limit trips to the store.

While this does prove an effective means of curbing overspending, it also proves an effective means ofย  creating a few bare pantry days before the next trip.

You know, those days when you look into your fridge/pantry and see only orzo,ย  garlic cloves, and half and half?

These are the days that were made for: a.) take out or b.) Bare Pantry Soup.

Now, I’m not dogging on a nice night of Chipotle, but may I suggest the satisfaction found in serving a hot, hearty pot of whatever-you-have-on-hand?

The magic of this recipe is in its flexibility and in the unique ability of soup to transform the bland into a rich cornucopia of flavor and frugality.

So, open that fridge, pull out those almost-gone-bad carrots, and remember that spices cover a multitude of sins.


Bare Pantry Soup

(Note the excessive use of “ish” and “/” + imprecise measurements. Remember: Flexible. Use whatever you have!)


  • a few T oil (olive or coconut…or whatever)
  • 1ish onion
  • 2 cloves garlic/some garlic powder
  • 2ish cups broth (I use homemade chicken broth, frozen in ice cube trays)
  • 4ish cups water (If desired, you may use all broth instead; alternatively, you may use all water if you don’t have broth. Just add more spices/onion for flavor).
  • 2ish large carrots
  • Some potatoes (I used 5 small)
  • 1 14.5 oz can tomatoes
  • Some other veggies: celery, sweet potatoes, broccoli, kale, whatevs*
  • 1-2 cups Lentils/rice/orzo/beans/macaroni noodles (already cooked)
  • Spices: My go-to is cumin (about 1T) but this time I used rosemary and thyme (about 1 1/2 t each)
  • Salt and pepper to taste


To make:

1.) Heat the oil on medium heat in a large pot. Use a food processor to chop onions, then saute them in the pot with the garlic until softened; about 5 min.

2.) Chop the other veggies. I use the food processor for carrots, celery, and to puree the can of tomatoes (Hubs is not a fan of chunks).

3.) Add the other veggies to the pot, cover with lid, and let cook until softened; about 5-7min.

4.) Add the broth, water, and spices. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.

5.) Add the lentils or whatever other legume/bean/noodle you have on hand. Let simmer for about 30 min.

6.) Taste and adjust spices as needed.

7.) Top with grated cheese (we get a killer smoked cheddar goat cheese from Azure Standard), avocado, or homemade croutons (using that stale bread you have in your fridge).

*If you don’t have many veggies in your fridge, no worries! I find that the onion and garlic are the most important for flavor. Even adding just one or two other veg can still yield a yummy pot of soup.

And there you have it. Soup fit for a cold winter’s day.

What do you like to make on bare pantry days?

About Jenn

Jenn is a mommy of three and wife to her best friend. She enjoys good books, dinner guests, elevenses, and proper apostrophe use.

  • Chris

    Jenn, I love that your bare pantry has orzo in it. Believe it or not, orzo is a recent discover for me (it is amazing). And being that I try to moderate gluten intake, it is still considered a “cheat.” So rice remains our less fun – but necessary – grain to spread soups and such.

    • I have to confess, my current bare pantry does not actually contain orzo :). I must have been wanting some when I wrote that! My easy-to-please (less adventuresome) husband is content with a bowl of plain rice, so we consume lots of that, too.

  • yum that looks good ๐Ÿ™‚

  • I love this recipe! The measurements are exactly what I would think of when writing out a recipe ๐Ÿ™‚ I usually make our own veggie stock to put in the freezer, and then I tend to do a quart of stock and a quart of water to really stretch it out. I also like the idea of not going to the grocery store to stay on budget – I do that as well! Thanks for linking up at what i am eating!

    • Glad you like! Yes, stretching the stock out is key–we go through so much of it as it is. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for inviting me to the link-up!