Leftover Vegetable Soup

Leftover-Vegetable Soup

The Spruce / Loren Runion

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 40 mins
Total: 50 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
291 Calories
16g Fat
30g Carbs
9g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 291
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 16g 20%
Saturated Fat 2g 8%
Cholesterol 5mg 2%
Sodium 439mg 19%
Total Carbohydrate 30g 11%
Dietary Fiber 7g 27%
Total Sugars 9g
Protein 9g
Vitamin C 9mg 44%
Calcium 64mg 5%
Iron 2mg 10%
Potassium 555mg 12%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

On any given day, most of us have some random, leftover vegetables in the fridge drawer: a bit of cauliflower, a few broccoli florets, a handful of spinach, a lonely single leek. Got a few potatoes in the pantry, not nearly enough to mash? Are your scarce cilantro leaves not enough for chimichurri and too many for a vinaigrette?

Instead of trying to fit each little piece into a separate dish, the easiest way to save all your micro-leftovers of produce is to make a delicious soup. The perfect way to save your money, and to feed your family with a fabulous and easy dish, the best part about the leftover-vegetable soup is that anything goes. We bring you a template, but swap or add to your liking because there's no wrong way of cooking this wholesome meal.

Steps to Making a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Soup

In general, making a soup requires a good aromatic base, generous seasoning, and a flavorful cooking medium.

  1. Take stock of what you have and sort the vegetables; use only what's still in good shape and discard what seems too soft or mushy.
  2. Look for aromatics, such as onion, garlic, carrots, and celery. If you don't have any fresh, powdered onion or powdered garlic will do the trick.
  3. Choose your cooking liquid. A good stock or broth is ideal but in a pinch use water and a splash of white wine if you'd like, or add vegetable, chicken, or beef bouillon.
  4. Spices and fresh herbs complete the flavoring and add brightness to the soup. Cilantro, basil, parsley, thyme, or rosemary work wonders, and using the dried versions also adds a ton of flavor.

Make It Ahead

Our basic recipe freezes well and is certainly a friendly way to freeze vegetables and meal prep for the weeks ahead. Having soup in your freezer ready to reheat is a time-saving trick for busy weeknights when a bowl of hot soup and a loaf of crusty bread will make a wonderful and flavorful dinner. For extra richness, serve with a dollop of sour cream on top, or a generous amount of grated Parmesan.

"I love the adaptability of this soup! This recipe makes such great use out of all the odds and ends in my fridge and comes together quickly and with ease. If you have them, be sure to use the cumin and five-spice as they really brighten and warm the soup." —Kayla Hoang

Leftover-Vegetable Soup Tester Image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil

  • 1 large onion, finely chopped

  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

  • 2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch slices

  • 2 celery ribs, cut into 1/4-inch slices

  • 3 cups vegetables, cut into 1/2-inch chunks

  • 2 1/2 cups stock, vegetable, beef or chicken, plus more as needed

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 1 teaspoon five-spice powder, optional

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

  • Salt, to taste

  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Leftover-Vegetable Soup ingredients

    The Spruce / Loren Runion

  2. In a large stockpot or soup pan, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat.

    pot with oil

    The Spruce / Loren Runion

  3. Add the onions and gently cook until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes.

    onions cooking in a pot with oil

    The Spruce / Loren Runion

  4. Add the garlic, carrots, and celery and cook for another 5 minutes, without burning the garlic.

    Add the garlic, carrot, and celery to the onions in the pot

    The Spruce / Loren Runion

  5. Add the chopped vegetables and stir.

    add the rest of the vegetables to the pot

    The Spruce / Loren Runion

  6. Add the stock, bay leaf, and any spices you're using.

    Add the stock, bay leaf, and spices to the vegetables in the pot

    The Spruce / Loren Runion

  7. Increase the heat to high to bring the soup to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook, covered, until all the vegetables are soft and cooked through, 20 to 30 minutes.

    cook the vegetable soup in the pot

    The Spruce / Loren Runion

  8. Carefully, blend the soup in the pot using an immersion blender or pour into a countertop blender or food processor and blend. Make it as creamy or chunky as you'd like. If needed, return the soup to the pot and cook for an additional 5 minutes to reduce slightly.

    Depending on the vegetables you used you may need to add a splash of broth or water to thin it out. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot.

    Leftover-Vegetable Soup, blended with an immersion blender

    The Spruce / Loren Runion

Use Caution When Blending Hot Ingredients

Steam expands quickly in a blender and can cause ingredients to splatter everywhere and lead to burns. To prevent this, fill the blender only one-third of the way up, vent the top, and cover with a folded kitchen towel while blending.

What Vegetables to Use in the Soup?

Any vegetables are great for making this soup. If you're unsure on what to use, here are a few ideas:

  • Parsnips, celeriac, leeks, sweet potatoes, or any other winter roots help thicken the soup and add a lot of texture and flavor. No matter which you use, make sure all of the vegetables are cleaned, peeled, and cut into similar size chunks.
  • Leafy greens like spinach, watercress, kale, cabbage, collard greens, and arugula add color and brightness to the soup.
  • Cooked and roasted vegetables also have a place in this recipe. Simply add them toward the end of the cooking time to make sure they are thoroughly heated through. Even mashed potatoes can go in, and it surely will add a delectable creamy texture.
  • Cooked grains are also a perfect addition as they make for a richer texture. Rice, quinoa, farro, and barley are all good options.

How to Thicken Your Soup

If your resulting soup lacks body and texture, there are a few things you can do to thicken it. Depending on what you have at hand and your dietary preferences, you could thicken your soup by:

  • Adding a can of mashed beans, like navy, or a can of lentils.
  • Blending half of the soup and pouring it back into the pot, allowing the liquid to reduce further.
  • Adding a little heavy cream or half-and-half.
  • Making a roux with butter and flour and adding it to the soup.
  • Adding a couple of cups of day-old bread.
  • Adding cooked pasta.
  • Making a slurry of cornstarch and water and adding it to the soup. Be careful when adding the slurry so you don't over-thicken the soup and make it gloppy. Add the cornstarch mixture 1 teaspoon at a time until the soup reaches the desired consistency.