Soup is so important, and we eat so much of it, that we ought to make our own. I do not want to disparage all the soup products out there, but it has been my experience that some of the presumed-premium soup products for sale in Tucson are not premium at all.
As one example, I have seen the in-store high-end soups for sale in Safeway markets and read their labels. They contained Propylene Glycol the last time I looked. Propylene Glycol is a petroleum by-product that is known to cause cancer; it is using a mineral oil in place of a vegetable oil to cook with. Think of the bottle of mineral oil that you might use on your skin (but should not)--would you eat it? I don't think so. Yet this soup is sold at Safeway and as far as I know its formula has not yet been re-evaluated.
On the other hand, I got some very good news when I read an article that reported that the use of High-Fructose Corn Syrup in the American food industry is now at an all-time low. More and more food producers are returning to other sweeteners to make our food taste good. Unfortunately, you'll still have to read your soup labels, if you want to buy it, to see if it is there. I hope that if you see either of these ingredients you will go back to the regular soup aisle of your supermarket and get simple broth and stock to make your own soup.
Some of the most popular soups are the simplest, such as Clam Chowder, which can be made of milk, canned clams, onions, butter, flour and not much else besides salt and pepper. You make a roux with the butter and flour, add milk for the liquid and add in the clams if you don't want to deal with raw clams from the fish aisle.
Not everyone realizes that you can also forego the clams entirely and make fish chowder, or shrimp chowder, crab chowder and so on with whatever seafood is your favorite (salmon chowder!).
Then you can go one step further, throw in a little curry powder, get out the rice and it's dinner! But the article that I read the other day gave me a list of ingredients that we can all keep painlessly in our kitchen cabinets until they are needed, for most of them require refrigeration and they can sit there until you have to make soup.
The group includes broth, canned or boxed; canned diced tomatoes or another form of tomatoes if you would prefer it without chunks; onions, carrots and celery (the mirepoix) for flavor; rice or pasta; canned beans and/or dried beans. This list could be modified with lentils and brown rice for the classic beans-and-rice protein formula.
So this afternoon I got them all out of my cabinet (using lentils) and made up a soup. I also added a cooked potato that my husband had made and left for me, and ended up mixing it with my immersion blender after it was done. It is rich and delicious--you'll be satisfied with a small bowl, especially if you have bread or salad on the side. Refrigerate this liquid gold and your work week is taken care of, providing that you make several cups of soup. Use the boxed prepared broth/stock and you'll be fine.
Make this recipe your own by adding what you like best, blending it or not as you prefer, leaving the potatoes out or in. You can serve this to anybody with pride and assure them that you have their best interests at heart, and you don't need to tell them how easy it was. Homemade soup is pretty much a stand-alone comfort food that is good for everybody.