Make your own instant vegetable soup concentrate

instantsoup-3.jpg

Previously I showed you how to make instant miso soup balls to which you just add boiling water to make a hot cup or bowl of soup. But even I don’t want miso soup all the time. Instant soup mixes are an option, but they are usually rather salty, and don’t contain a lot in terms of nutrients. So I set about experimenting with making my own instant soup concentrate. After some trial and error, here’s a formula for a Mediterranean tasting vegetable soup concentrate that works pretty well. It does take some mostly unattended time to cook down, so it’s a good project to do over the weekend to stock up for upcoming bento lunches.

Recipe: Instant Mediterranean vegetable soup concentrate

  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 large green pepper
  • 1 large red pepper
  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 1 big bunch of parsley
  • 2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 small (1 lb or 400g) can of crushed tomatoes
  • 2 Tbs. tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. salt and 1 vegetable stock cube, OR 1 Tbs. salt

Chop up all of the vegetables fairly finely but not too finely. You can do this in a food processor, or just chop by hand.

Heat up a heavy bottomed pot with the olive oil. Add all the vegetables, and sauté until limp.

Add the can of tomatoes and tomato paste, plus a little water (rinse out the can and pour that water in). Add the herbs, salt and stock cube. Bring to a boil, then simmer over a low heat until the mixture has reduced to about 1/4th, stirring up from the bottom occasionally to prevent it from burning. The moisture should be just about gone, and it should look like a very thick vegetable-studded sauce. The cooking down process takes about half an hour or more, so you’ll want to do this when you can be around the kitchen to check up on its progress.

instantsoup-1.jpg

Let the mixture cool, and take out the bay leaf. If you taste it at this point it should be quite salty - too salty to eat on its own, since you will be diluting it with hot water.

Wrap up 2 tablespoon portions in plastic wrap, put the packets in a zip bag, and freeze. This amount makes about 10 portions.

instantsoup-packs1.jpg

When you want to bring one along, just pack a frozen packet.

instantsoup-packs2.jpg

By lunchtime, the packet will have defrosted.

instantsoup-packs3.jpg

Squeeze out the contents of the packet into a mug or bowl.

instantsoup-5.jpg

Add boiling water. Mmm, piping hot veggie soup.

instantsoup-4.jpg

Notes

Adding some precooked pasta and beans will turn this into a minestrone!

The plastic wrap packet does tend to leak a bit once the mixture has defrosted, so be sure not to carry it on its own. Yu may want to put it inside a divider cup in your bento if you don’t want the surrounding food to be tomato-stained.

There’s a lot of salt in this, because it is a concentrate. If you want to regulate the salt more, omit it from the concentrate and add salt to taste when you mix up your cup of soup. Sprinkling in some dried herbs when mixing will help with that too. (It makes you realize how salty instant soup mixes are…)

I think you could make a lot of variations of this basic method of cooking a concentrated sauce or paste to use as a soup base. I’ll post them if I come up with others, and let us know in the comments if you come up with your own ideas!

For more bento recipes, ideas and tips, subscribe to Just Bento via your newsreader or by email (more about subscriptions).

And visit our sister site, Just Hungry for great Japanese home recipes and more.

16 comments

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Soup to go

Hi Maki,

This is a wonderful and creative idea on soup. I often make a large pot full of soup similar to yours and freeze it. But when it thaws out I do have a leaky mess.

Freezing in small packs without the broth part is totally innovative!

Thanks.

Ciao, O

great idea!

That is a great idea Maki! I’m going to make some this weekend. Thanks for sharing!

I made this yesterday and

I made this yesterday and brought a packet to work for lunch in a small disposable plastic cup from a takeout place. It tasted fabulous! The only problem was that it attracted too many people to my desk while I was eating, all wondering what that great smell was. :-)

instant veg soup

Great idea! Maybe freeze it in ice cube trays? easier for portioning.

Re: Make your own instant vegetable soup concentrate

Ice cube trays will hold 2 tablespoon portions (I think) and then the soup cubes can be stored in one plastic bag or storage bowl with lid. I'm all for looking to cut down on the waste, that's one of my "bento goals."

Re: Make your own instant vegetable soup concentrate

Hi! I tried this recipe two days ago I sustituted the tomato (husband hates it) with pumpkin (anyways zapallo) and not so many spices and it worked out *Grate*. Here it´s quite cold so this was a good adition to my bento usuals.

Thanks Maki!

Re: Make your own instant vegetable soup concentrate

Pumpkin soup concentrate sounds yummy!

Re: Make your own instant vegetable soup concentrate

I am a sanitation expert and letting a frozen soup mix thaw in your lunch box is NOT SAFE! The only SAFE way to thaw anything frozen is in refridgerator or under cold running water and then immediatly cooked. A lunchbox with a cooler/icepack will NOT keep the concentrate outside of the DANGER temperature zone.

Re: Make your own instant vegetable soup concentrate

Dear Sanitation expert. What bugs are you concerned about given that boiling water is to be used for serving, and the product has been pasteurised, has an acidic recipe and is preserved with salt. What is the likely mechanism of food poisoning for this process? British Retail Consortium BRC Global Food Standard Food Inspector.

Re: Make your own instant vegetable soup concentrate

Tehehe... Makki RULEZ....

Re: Make your own instant vegetable soup concentrate

I made and froze packets of this lovely soup concentrate, thinking there'd be hot/boiling water available when I went out. I ran out of other vegetables to pack for my lunch one day, and just decided to pack one of these soup balls (well, really it was a triangle of concentrate, but that's just nitpicking :P) to mix in with my rice---oh my god, so good! It makes the rice just so yummy, and I think it would be a great way to sneak veggies in for those of you who have little ones who scoff at the idea of eating vegetables.

Re: Make your own instant vegetable soup concentrate

Not sure if anyone is still monitoring this thread, but if you are, can you tell me how much water one adds to the soup packet when reconstituting? I don't have a bento bowl, so am trying to figure out which size cup to pack in my lunch.

I've been eyeing this recipe ever since it hit the website and at last have the magic combination of a free day for kitchen work AND all the ingredients on hand. Can't wait to fill the house with this aroma!

Incidentally, I'm also going to make a chicken/leek version for a sick Jewish friend, and pack a matzo ball in with each packet of concentrate. We'll see how that goes. Never heard of frozen matzo balls, but in theory it should work, no?

Re: Make your own instant vegetable soup concentrate

Great concept, thanks! I've just adapted this idea to a delicious looking mushroom barley soup recipe. I'll let you know how it turns out. :)
Also:

The_Fat_Lady wrote:

Not sure if anyone is still monitoring this thread, but if you are, can you tell me how much water one adds to the soup packet when reconstituting? I don't have a bento bowl, so am trying to figure out which size cup to pack in my lunch.
...
Incidentally, I'm also going to make a chicken/leek version for a sick Jewish friend, and pack a matzo ball in with each packet of concentrate. We'll see how that goes. Never heard of frozen matzo balls, but in theory it should work, no?

I think she said you can add a mug of boiling water, which I assume is the same amount of ounces as a regular coffee mug (is that 8?)

As to the matzo balls--how did that taste, when un-thawed? I ask because they usually have such delicate textures that wonder if the freezing did anything to them.

Re: Make your own instant vegetable soup concentrate

Mushroom barley--what a great idea!

The chicken/leek soup was outrageously good, and the matzoh balls, which I'd made very small, didn't completely heat up in the hot water. They did hold together, which was what I'd doubted, so that was good. I tried nuking the thawed balls, but that made them tough, even though I only set the timer for two or three seconds.

I've found, though, that quinoa does very well in this soup concentrate, and adds a nice touch of protein and texture. My favorite carb addition to date has been Israeli couscous, which makes each little cube of concentrate look like Italian wedding soup. Nice visual impact.

| Just Bento

Hmm it looks like your blog ate my first comment (it was
extremely long) so I guess I'll just sum it up what I had written and say, I'm thoroughly enjoying
your blog. I as well am an aspiring blog writer but I'm still new to everything. Do you have any tips for rookie blog writers? I'd genuinely appreciate it.

Amazing

Thank you so much for this, I'll be using this recipe soon!

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.