I could have just written this out and sent it to Oxymoron, but it is a chance to write about food, and I can't pass that up.
Soup is simply a "base" plus an optional X. The base can be anything from water+butter+salt, to boullion-from-a-cube (watch out for MSG), a rue, or my current favorite, the Trader Joe boxed soups and thousands of liquid things in between. The X can be nearly any edible you find in your fridge.
The first soup to tickle my palate was a Campbell's tomato and rice concoction that my great-grandmother fed us when I was very young, in the sun-drenched, turquoise-enameled breakfast nook, in her magical turn-of-the-century Chanel-scented house.
She had a wall-mounted magnetic electric can opener she used to open the can of Campbell's Tomato Soup that I found endlessly fascinating. She also had a nifty hand-powered coffee grinder.
Mae's Universal Tomato and Rice Soup
1 can of Campbell's Tomato Soup
1/2 cup white rice
salt and pepper
1) Cook the rice according to the directions. Don't lift that lid!
2) Prepare the tomato soup according to the directions.
3) Stir the rice into the soup. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Oxy and Camille's Poor Friday Night Soup.
Trader Joe's boxed Roasted Bell Pepper and Tomato Soup
2 cloves garlic
yellow onion (yellows have the highest sugar content)
bunch of swiss chard (the King of Greens) (or your fave veggies)
1/2 tsp each rosemary, oregano & thyme or 1 1/2 tsp "Italian Seasoning Mix"
1/8 teaspoon of ground, dried cayenne pepper
salt and pepper
1) Put the water to boil for the noodles. Salt it, and make sure you use plenty of water, so the noodles can have enough room to swim.
2) Finely chop and saute the onion and garlic. Saute them with butter, in the bottom of the sauce pan you'll use for the soup-- turn the heat up high initially, to brown them, then turn it way down and stir them occasionally until they are nice and brown and transparent.
3) Pour the whole box of soup in on top of the onions. Turn on the heat. Add the spices.
4) Finely chop the swiss chard, rinse it thoroughly and add it to the soup when it is boiling. Turn the heat down, cover, and let it simmer for 10 minutes max.
5) Add the drained, cooked noodles when they are done.
Smokey Lentil Variation
1) Cooked lentils instead of the cooked noodles. Lentils take more time, so get them going earlier. Add 1 cup of lentils to 2 cups of boiling water. Reduce heat to low, cover and let sit for 45 minutes.
2) 1 quart Lapsang Souchong (smoked black) tea instead of the boxed soup. 4 cups of boiling water and 6 teaspoons of tea. Let it steep for 10 minutes, so it is good and strong. Strain the tea leaves out before adding it to the onions and lentils.
3) A little cumin and curry instead of the Italian mix. Go easy with the spices, since you don't want to overpower the smoky tea.