Many lament the difficulty of cooking for only one or two people. It’s challenging to make a meal that is small, and it often just doesn’t seem worth the effort. Everyone needs to eat, though. Another thing people say is that they can’t make a small quantity of soup. I know that there have been many times when I wanted to make soup and I ended up having to transfer it to a much bigger pot than the one I first chose. I’ve heard it said that whenever anyone is making a pot of soup, it’s usually enough for an army!

However, I decided I wanted to figure out a way to make a smaller pot of soup. After having some success with that, I wanted to give myself the ultimate soup challenge – soup for just one or two people. I know what you’re probably thinking. That’s impossible, right? Well, it’s actually not very hard, as long as you discipline yourself to minimize how much you’re adding to the soup. You can try this method:


First, take a small plate, or even one of those divided plates. Then, cut up all of the ingredients for the soup, and place them on the plate as though it’s your dinner, or even dinner for a child (since the broth will make it more filling). Make sure to only use maybe a handful of whatever you want to put in your soup, and resist the temptation to keep adding more. Start with the items you want the most to make sure you can fit those in, and then add a little at a time of other things without heaping them on the plate. Stop when the plate is getting full. Simply putting everything (except the water or broth, of course) on the plate first makes it easier to make smaller batches of soup. It helps you visualize how much you’re actually using as opposed to throwing things into a pot of water and underestimating everything. One thing that I tried was putting a small pot of water on to boil (about 4 cups), and adding only a teaspoon each of barley, wild rice, lentils, and quinoa, and some bouillon powder as the starter for my soup. I then cut up a quarter of an onion, 1 clove of garlic, half a stalk of celery, and one small carrot. I put them on the plate, and then looked for some vegetables in my refrigerator. I used a bit more than I would otherwise, since I wanted to make a vegetable soup only, and skip the meat. I added seven green beans, 3 button mushrooms, and about a third of a small zucchini. Once the vegetables were all washed and chopped, I added them to the boiling water.


When it was all done, it made two bowls of soup. My husband and I ended up eating all of it, but if only one of us was hungry, we easily could have saved the second bowl for another time. Or I could have used half of the quantity of vegetables. If I want to make soup with meat next time, I plan to use just use one chicken drumstick or thigh, and skip some of the vegetables.


Other ways to help make smaller pots of soup include using frozen vegetables, since you can just measure out a small quantity. That’s a little easier than trying to figure out what to do with the leftover vegetables, such as two thirds of a zucchini! If you want to avoid that problem, you can also skip things like that, and stick with individual green beans or mushrooms to round out your soup. If I don’t end up using my leftover vegetables, I might just cut them up and freeze them for another time.


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