How to Make Homemade Soup Without a Recipe (Plus my easy, healthy garbanzo soup recipe)

During this time, a lot of people are either learning how to cook for the first time or learning how to improvise and make food based on what they have in the kitchen already, versus exactly what a recipe tells them to buy.


Following a recipe and cooking without a recipe are different skills, although they are related. Truth be told, I prefer to cook without a recipe. But it took me years to get to that point, and I still pull out a recipe if I’m making something I’m not familiar with. I believe learning how to cook without a recipe will make cooking a less stressful and easier experience for you, and give you time and freedom in the kitchen.


But if you’re new to cooking or you’ve been relying on recipes for a long time, sometimes it helps to still have a guideline.


In this case, I like to provide steps and a framework, and you get to decide exactly what ingredients you use. This helps you be creative but still gives you guidance. Making the steps customizable to whatever you have on hand is also helpful for reducing food waste and cutting food costs. I also prefer this way because I know whatever I make has the flavors and ingredients I like best, so I’m practically guaranteed to enjoy it.


We are going to focus on homemade soup because it’s one of the easiest, most flexible things you can make and is very adaptable to whatever ingredients you have. Plus, soup is one of my favorite foods for healthy, homey comfort (just what we all need right now).


Follow this guideline to get you making your own healthy homemade soup. And if you just want a recipe to follow, I’ll provide the ingredients I used to make my healthy Garbanzo Veggie Soup!

How to Make Homemade Soup Without a Recipe

  1. Make your broth.

    1. Pick a protein. This will be the protein source in the soup and will also be what you use to make your broth. Some good choices are:

      • Dried beans

      • Dried garbanzos

      • Chicken (bone-in has better flavor)

      • Pork shoulder

    2. Add the protein to a soup pot and fill with water.

    3. Add flavorings to the pot. Pick things that will lend flavor but you don’t want to eat whole. Some good choices are:

      • Bay leaf

      • Avocado leaf

      • Whole garlic cloves

      • Onion halves

      • Bundles of whole herbs

    4. Place the pot over medium-high heat and bring to a boil.

    5. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cover.

    6. Simmer until the protein is cooked all the way through. Approximately 30-40 minutes for chicken or pork, or 60 – 90 minutes for dried beans or garbanzos.

  2. While the broth is simmering, chop your other vegetables.

    1. Choose 1-2 aromatic vegetables (at least, you can add more if you want). Dice these or chop into very small pieces

      • Onions

      • Garlic

      • Bell Pepper

      • Tomato

      • Carrots

      • Celery

    2. Choose as many extra veggies as you want. These are the veggies you will have bite-sized pieces of. Chop these into 1/2” pieces.

      • Carrots

      • Celery

      • Tomato

      • Peppers

      • Leafy greens (spinach, kale, cabbage, etc)

      • Zucchini

      • Squash

      • Chayote

      • Nopales

      • any other veggie you can think of

    (Pro tip: Try to cut all your vegetables into the same-sized pieces. They will cook more evenly and you won’t wind up with some pieces too soft and others not cooked through enough.)

  3. Sauté the aromatic vegetables you diced in step 2.

    1. Heat some oil in a small sauté pan.

    2. When the oil is shimmering, add your aromatic vegetables and saute until soft. Typically 5-7 minutes.

    3. Set aside.

  4. Once your protein is fully cooked, remove the flavorings from your broth.

    1. If you chose a meat for your protein, now is the time to remove the protein, chop it into bite-sized pieces (or shred it) and add it back to the pot.

  5. Add the aromatics and vegetables from step 2 to the broth.

  6. Add salt and pepper.

  7. Add other seasonings. Pick 1-3 other seasonings to add. Some good choices common in Latin food are:

    1. Cilantro stems

    2. Epazote

    3. Cumin

    4. Marjoram

    5. Oregano

    6. Coriander

    7. Ground chile

    8. Paprika

  8. Bring the soup back to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cover.

  9. Let soup simmer for 15-20 minutes. Taste and adjust salt/pepper/other seasonings as needed.

  10. Add an acid. Either to the pot at the very end of cooking or at the table as a garnish. Some good choices are:

    1. Lemon or lime wedge (at the table, do not add to the pot)

    2. White vinegar

    3. White wine vinegar


My Easy, Healthy Garbanzo Soup


As an example, and if you want to see the steps listed above in action, here’s a soup I made using this exact process.


It tasted so homey and cozy, and was very filling. This is a vegan soup so it’s suitable for just about anyone.


  • 1 cup dried garbanzo beans

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 1 whole onion (1/2 left intact and 1/2 diced into small pieces)

  • 1-2 tsp olive oil

  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled

  • 2 large carrots, peeled

  • 2 celery stalks

  • 1-2 cilantro stems

  • 1 sprig of epazote

  • a pinch of marjoram

  • salt and pepper to taste

  • lime wedges for serving


  1. Place the dried garbanzo beans in a soup pot, along with 1/2 the whole onion (do not chop this half of the onion), the peeled garlic cloves, and the bay leaf.

2. Fill the soup pot with water and place over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil.

3. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cover.

4. Allow the garbanzos to simmer until cooked through (about 60-70 minutes)

5. While the garbanzos are cooking, dice the other half of the onion into small pieces.

6. Place a small saute pan over medium heat. Add oil to the pan.

7. Once the oil is shimmering, add the diced onions to the pan along with a sprinkle of salt. Saute until soft and translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Set onions aside.

8. Chop the carrots and celery into bite-sized pieces.

9. Once the garbanzos are fully cooked, remove the onion half, whole garlic cloves and bay leaf from the pot. Discard.

10. Add the sauteed onions to the soup pot, along with the carrots and celery pieces.

11. Add salt (about 2 tsp to start), pepper, cilantro stems, epazote sprig, and pinch of marjoram to the pot.

12. Bring the soup back to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover again and let simmer for 20 minutes.

13. Taste for seasonings, adjust as needed.

14. Serve soup with a lime wedge.

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