7 tips for full flavoured soups without using stock [5 ingredients | 10 minutes]

broccoli soup-2 broccoli soup-3

Happy New Year Everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful break.

First a big THANKYOU to everyone who commented on my questions just before Christmas. I really appreciate your thoughts and comments.

I’m back feeling super refreshed after a very long holiday and have an exciting announcement for you. But first, let’s talk soup.

I LOVE soup but I used to struggle with 2 things. First was finding the time for lots of simmering. Over the years, however, I’ve discovered that it is possible to make delicious soup in just 10 minutes. It’s just a matter of choosing your soup recipe wisely.

The second problem was that I always felt I had to use stock to get a really delicious full flavoured soup. And mostly I didn’t have any stock in the freezer or the pantry. So I’ve also made a conscious effort to make soups that don’t require stock.

With my new class starting at The Virtual Cookery School on 10 Minute Simple Soups – all made without stock, I thought I’d share a few tricks with you today.

7 tips for full flavoured soup without using stock

1.use aromatic vegetables
One of the secrets to great stock is being generous with the aromatic vegetables – onion, carrots & celery. So rather than add stock, I like to add at least one of these directly to the soup. Big flavour and no waste. Win win!

2. season with soy sauce
I read recently that soy sauce was developed by buddist monks to make vegetarian food taste more palatable and meat like. I’m not so sure of the truth behind the story of soy, but I do know it is rich in lovely umami-type savoury flavours. And even a tablespoon can turn a simple soup into something totally moreish.

3. use a full flavoured accompaniment.
Things like pesto or harissa give a real flavour hit to soup, not to mention adding some textural variation.

4. don’t overdo the water
When you’re making soup without stock, it’s really important that you don’t dilute the soup too much so be sparing with your water at first. You can always thin out a too-thick soup, but rescuing a watery, weakly flavoured number can take hours of simmering.

5. season seriously
Seasoing properly is critical for optimum flavour in all cooking but especially so in soup. Stocks tend to be quite salty naturally, so soup made on a stock base tends not to need as much salt & pepper. When switching to stock-free soup, it can be easy to underseason so be ultra careful to taste and add more salt if the flavours aren’t singing.

6. use a little acid
Think of this as part 2 of seasoning. A little lemon juice or a splash of vinegar can be all a dull soup needs to turn into a vibrant star.

7. spice it up
Some warming chili can do wonders to compliment the warming nature of soup. And a little cumin or coriander or even curry powder can give an old soup a new lease of life.

broccoli soup

[5 ingredients | 10 minutes]
broccoli & parmesan soup

serves 2

It’s hard not to love broccoli. All its greenness just screams good for you. And in soup form, it feels even more nurturing.

This would also work well with frozen broccoli. For a vegan version, skip the cheese and serve with a sprinkling of lightly toasted pinenuts or almonds.

If you don’t have a stick blender, feel free to serve as a chunky soup. Or use a regular blender of food processor – just be very careful when pureeing the hot soup.

2 heads broccoli, chopped including tender stalks
1 small piece of parmesan rind, optional, + shaved parmesan to serve
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon lemon juice

1. Bring 2 cups water to boil in a medium saucepan.

2. Add broccoli, parmesan rind, if using and soy sauce.

3. Cover and simmer rapidly for about 8 minutes or until broccoli is tender.

4. Puree in the saucepan with a stick blender until smoothish.

5. Taste and season with salt, pepper and lemon juice. Serve with extra parmesan sprinkled over the top.


video version of the recipe

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{ 41 comments… read them below or add one }

Rosa January 17, 2011 at 8:54 pm

Great tips! I aso season my food with nutritional yeast, spices, herbs or Cenovis (Swiss vegi Marmite).

That soup looks so droolworthy!




Gina Murphy January 17, 2011 at 9:46 pm

I love soup, too. One thing I do is steam a bag of frozen chunky veg. When done I dislove a spoon of miso paste in the remaining water and put them together for a tasty, simple soup. One could use fresh veggies. That would bring the ingredient count up. I consider a bag of frozen veg to be one ingredient. Next time I make soup I think I will puree and call it a cream soup. Welcome back. I’m looking forward to more delicious recipes.
Cheers, Gina


Alex January 17, 2011 at 9:58 pm

Hi Jules! Welcome back from your holiday1 I hop eyou didn’t get stuck anywhere due to the snow.

I use soy sauce or miso or vegemite in my soups for that fuller flavour – the other thing that I find that works if I don’t have the others on hand is to properly caramelise my onions first and adding water to them to stop them from burning, then repeating the process a few times. Then I can get away with a quick addition of spinach/peas/broccoli without a stock. The other thing that I find works well is adding fruit juices (like lemon, lime or orange .- especially to carrot, spinach or pea soups) and fresh herbs just before serving and no stock needed as long as I have seasoned well. Yum.


Marie (a.k.a. gardenfreshtomatoes) January 17, 2011 at 10:00 pm

Perfect timing! My mother just asked yesterday for “something new to do with broccoli.” I will send her over here!

Glad you’re back, Jules, and that everyone is safe and well… Looking foreward to a new year with you!


Hsinya January 17, 2011 at 10:44 pm

I have the same trouble making soup; I don’t buy canned stock and I don’t make my own from scratch. I love your tips! I’ll try adding lemon juice to my soup next time. Browning onions really adds flavor. My other favorite is Japanese miso paste. Miso soup goes well with tofu, vegetables, mushrooms, fish, kelp, and even potatoes. I like to keep miso paste in my minimalist kitchen because they can be used in cooking/baking fish and tasty sauce for vegetables.


Foy (Less Stuff More Action) January 17, 2011 at 11:19 pm

I am a steadfast devotee of stock based everything, but It is does take a lot of time. And when in a pinch I too go for the soy sauce or fish sauce. Soy sauce is the liquid from fish preserved with salt so it makes sense that it adds a lot of meaty flavor.

Fish sauce is also made from fish specifically anchovies. Not my favorite on pizza, but a little goes a long way and can really deepen a soup or risotto. Just make sure your vegetarian friends eat fish before you add it in.


Phyllis January 18, 2011 at 2:02 am

Yes! Start with aromatic vegetables! This is so true! I use canned stock (actually boxed) but always start with the “holy trinity” as my mom calls it, and always have success. I also agree with the not too much water and never add salt unless it’s a touch of soy sauce or miso. Use spices to add flavor. My mom was born and raised in southern Louisiana where creole and cajun food reigns. Instead of carrots, use green pepper, celery, and onions sauted tender to start. I always, always, add garlic too. To thicken, the tradition is to use file (fee-lay) or okra. I love file, but it’s hard to find the good stuff, so I save it for my gumbos and for other soups I use arrowroot, cornstarch, or one of the gluten-free flours. (Yes, I was raised on gumbo, jambalaya, and etoufee, but recently diagnosed as gluten intolerant. I’m learning to make rouxs without wheat flour.) Creole food is so tasty because it starts with these three vegetables. It’s a blend of french, spanish, african, and Choctaw Indian influences. College friends have told me that the carrot, celery, and onion mix is more typical of northeastern US and northern Europe. I don’t know about that, but they are yummy too.


s January 18, 2011 at 4:26 am

Here, all those aromatics are very expensive, much more so than buying stock, and especially more expensive than saving the bones and juices from meat meals and making a simple stock with the bones, onion, carrots and celery. It doesn’t take much. Since I really only use chicken, I get chicken stock this way. Even a cup adds flavour and nutrition, such as calcium from the bones in the way our bodies can most efficiently use it.


Another Claire January 18, 2011 at 8:31 am

Wow, I love the look of that soup (I love broccoli!) Someone recently told me that pureed soups are good for those trying to eat less, because the water is incorporated with the solids and makes one feel full for longer than the equivalent amount of food and water consumed separately. Not sure if there is any truth in this biologically, but it would explain why I find soup so satisfying!


s. January 18, 2011 at 8:53 am

But I did make a soup with aromatics, today. Cauliflower soup, with carrots, onion, garlic AND four strips of good quality side bacon, not cooked just added in two-inch pieces, and the rind of a piece of parmesan. I keep rinds and strange bits of cheese in a jar in the freezer (next to the bones container) to use like this. Oh. That’s more than five.


s. January 18, 2011 at 8:58 am

## Soy sauce is the liquid from fish preserved with salt so it makes sense that it adds a lot of meaty flavor. ##

I always thought it was fermented, salted soy beans.


cindy s February 25, 2013 at 8:06 am

I thought so too, so I looked it up. Here is how soy sauce is made. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soy_sauce


Cat January 18, 2011 at 9:54 am

Welcome back! I would love to try this soup but my partner isn’t 100% keen on broccoli so I might give it a miss. Great tips for other soups though!


a January 18, 2011 at 12:23 pm

There aren’t fish of any kind in soy sauce, which is one reason vegetarian monks use it.


jas January 18, 2011 at 12:54 pm

ooo – welcome back! love soups! this reminds me of a cauliflower/broccoli one I had at a friends place a few years ago – delish. I use a little soy sauce in my soups aswell, gives it a little flavour plus salt. Yum!


jules January 18, 2011 at 2:46 pm

not love broccoli??? this might be the dish to change his mind ;)

s & a
yes you’re right – soy sauce doesn’t contain any fish – it’s a fermented soybean product.

another claire
interesting theory on the pureed soups… not sure how it would work but any excuse to eat more soup!

thanks for sharing your creole soup culture – LOVE IT!

lovely to hear from you marie – hope your mother enjoys the broccoli soup!

thanks alex!
I did get stuck on the way over to Ireland but ended up with a few bonus shopping days in London – so it wasn’t so bad. Had my first white christmas – totally unforgettable!

And thanks for mentioning citrus juice and herbs – can make a world of difference.

I’ve just been experimenting with different frozen veg – love the way your mind works.

It’s so good to be back ;)


Jun January 18, 2011 at 7:34 pm

Thanks for the tips! They’re really helpful. And I really like the simplicity of this soup…


jules January 18, 2011 at 8:11 pm

pleasure jun!
simplicity is definitely where it’s at


Ben January 19, 2011 at 12:41 am

Interesting. This post has changed my mind on soup making. What are your thoughts on chicken bouillon?


foodie and the chef January 19, 2011 at 2:19 am

Great post – I think the best soups are always those that let the flavour of its no. 1 ingredient shine through, this looks just beautiful. Thanks for sharing your tips, love your photography!


Mands January 19, 2011 at 2:46 pm

Loving the new look, right on brand I would say if I was one of those ‘marketing’ types!


jules January 19, 2011 at 3:46 pm

chicken bouillon kinda fits in with the stock category for me… a bit too much work to make your own and store bought ones tend to be disappointing..

thanks miss mands!
now if you aren’t a ‘marketing type’ I don’t know who is.
means a lot to hear it from you


Claire January 19, 2011 at 8:55 pm

Funny – green soup was the only way to get veges into my son when he was younger – rejected almost everything else. Only difference is that I add cauliflower to it too – adds a white veg (I try to eat as many colours of veges as I can) and is souper tasty… pun too much?? lol. I also freeze parmesan rinds and often chuck a chunk in. Adds a lot without adding a lot.
Hope you had a good break – glad to see you back.


Jen January 20, 2011 at 12:51 am

Love to try this recipe but I’m afraid out here in the boonies, the only parm I can get comes in a green plastic shaker can….well, there is the generic but why bother. I’d love to add the flavor a parm rind would give but since I probably won’t get my hands on any, is there something I can use in its place?


jules January 20, 2011 at 9:13 pm

love your work,,, and the puns ;) lovely to hear from you

I’m hearin you about country living and absence of good parmesan. the soup will be lovely without it… fresher tasting but not in a bad way ;) you could add some cream or olive oil if you’d like a bit more richness


Alex January 20, 2011 at 9:25 pm

@Jen – (and apologies Jules- not taking over your blog!) if you leave a block of cheddar (or really any yellow cheese) dry out in the fridge you can use that! My ex used to eat the funny ‘cheese’ spread that comes in a jar – and after he left (a good thing!!!) and that languished in the fridge and dried out a little, it was used in a stockless pea soup and ‘fished out’ before serving. Being in the boonies means increasing the creativity (and using the generic stuff or an alternative isn’t always bad – just think of it as practise for knowing what to do when the real desired ingredient is accessible!!!)


jules January 20, 2011 at 10:15 pm

love your work alex!
jump in at any time.. and definitely glad the cheese spread guy is an ex ;)


Caitlin January 21, 2011 at 3:25 am

Hi Jules!

Love your site and recipes. I’m trying this soup tonight for dinner. We eat a lot of soup at my house (a. lot.) but always stock-based which, I agree, takes a lot of ‘doctoring’ to make it interesting. I highly recommending adding 1/2 a jalapeno pepper, chopped with seeds and gills in, to the onion/carrot/celery saute. It really adds something to soup, though the flavour tends to mellow significantly the next day.

Question for you. I try to avoid adding salt to food and 1 tbsp of soy sauce usually has about 2/3 of an adult’s daily sodium intake (950mg of the 1500mg you’re ‘supposed’ to have). Any thoughts on other tasty things that can be added to soups to amp up the flavour without amping up the salt content?


Zo @ Two Spoons January 22, 2011 at 8:10 am

Stocks sure can make soup seem like a bit effort. I’ve switched to making my own frozen bouillon – http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/homemade-bouillon-recipe.html which is both natural, no-waste, tastier than store-bought, compact, and totally customisable.

Cheers for sharing those tips!


kylieonwheels January 22, 2011 at 2:59 pm

Ooh look, everyone’s back! Hi everyone :)

I like the idea of a broccoli soup that isn’t cream based. Not that I don’t love creamy broccoli soup, it’s just my belt that doesn’t.

That 101cookbooks bouillon recipe that Zo has linked to looks right up my alley. She only recommends freezing for a month, that seems like a short freezer life to me, anyone else? I’d probably do the salt-free freezing one. We have often discussed stock options (hehe) here, such as what to do with all the bloody celery. Making a blended-vegie mix to freeze would have to take up a lot less space than boiling up stock and freezing that. I likey.

I can’t believe soy is made from soybeans. Next you’ll tell me that vegemite isn’t from the vegemite nut?


jules January 22, 2011 at 3:48 pm

thanks for the link zo – brilliant!

hey kylie!
loving the idsa of the blended vegie mix to freeze
ahh the elusive vegemite nut.. cute


melissa February 8, 2011 at 4:34 am

this is delicious, so easy & so healthy! i’ve already made it twice this week. are there any other vegetables people suggest making into a soup like this?


jules February 8, 2011 at 9:30 am

hey melissa
cauliflower is lovely – although I tend to sweat a few onions first for it. If you’re interested in soup, my class at The Virtual Cookery School has a heap of simple 10 minute soups similar to this one.


Terri April 24, 2012 at 1:28 am

Hey Jules,
I’m from South Africa and here we have a fragrant, red tea we call rooibos (red bush). This tea is free of caffeine and low in tannins. Sometimes I use a Rooibos tea bag to flavour the water I am using in the soup.


Joan August 7, 2012 at 6:25 pm

I always start with a potato for vegetable soup of any kind. Stock is nice but one can get by without it. Add veggie or veggies of choice and when everything is soft, wizz with a blender. To serve add a dollop of cream. It’s delicious. I make it this way often. The potato adds body to the soup.


jules August 13, 2012 at 7:40 am

Lovely Joan!


Kelly DeRosa January 22, 2013 at 11:39 pm

I really like how easy this recipe is and how acessible it is for college students to make!


Tracey Greyvenstein February 14, 2013 at 8:55 pm

Hey Jules

I made your roast broccoli last night and used it to make a soup, wow it was delish!


jules February 22, 2013 at 7:04 am

Great idea Tracey!
Thanks for shaing :)


Katie March 9, 2013 at 8:17 am

What should I do if I don’t have a hand-puree blender? I have a different type of puree blender can I use that?


Alex April 12, 2013 at 11:11 pm

What about cleaning the broccoli before making the soup? That is a very important but time consuming task you don’t mention in the video… I would never eat the broccoli from the supermarket where everybody touches the broccoli!


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