soups soups For busy people with families to feed, food prep goes a long way. (Photo: Ozgur Coskun/Shutterstock)

How to prep a week of soups in under an hour

We provide the shopping list, tips and recipes to make winter food prep easy and fun.

When winter drags on and overstays its welcome, all we helpless citizens can do is pull our sweaters on, heat up the fireplace, and get some hearty soup going on the stove. But busy schedules keep so many of us from preparing nourishing, heart-warming homemade foods. So what’s the solution for busy folks who want to eat well?

I’ve come up with a one-hour food prep marathon that will yield five different, delicious, hearty soups. You can serve one each day of the week (weekends off), or freeze a few for future weeks or an emergency stash – that’s up to you.

You’re going to prep everything you need to create 5 incredible soups quickly and easily on any night: creamy shallot and shiitake, carrot cauliflower, carrot thyme lentil, minestrone and tomato vegetable soups. All of these soups can be made gluten-free, low or no sodium, sugar-free, and are naturally packed with nutrients and vitamins.

assorted vegetables Take your time in the produce section to find the right ingredients. (Photo: Richard Pinder/Shutterstock)

Shopping List


  • 24 ounces carrot juice
  • 6 large onions
  • 3 bags carrot chips
  • 3 green and 3 yellow squash
  • 2 bulbs garlic
  • 2 portobello mushroom caps, diced
  • 1 container sliced organic shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 lb bag celery sticks
  • 1 large shallot
  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 1 green pepper
  • 2 ripe tomatoes
  • 2 16-oz bags frozen cauliflower
  • 10 oz baby broccoli florets
  • 8 oz white/yellow corn mix
  • 8 oz frozen sliced leeks
  • Frozen parsley cubes (or dried)

Non-perishables and spices

  • 1 can white beans
  • 1 can small kidney beans
  • 2 jars low-salt marinara
  • 15-oz can seasoned tomato chunks
  • 15-oz can low sodium tomato sauce
  • No-salt seasoning blend
  • Liquid aminos (I use Bragg’s)
  • 15-oz can coconut milk
  • 16 oz dry lentils (or 2 cans, drained and rinsed)
  • 48 oz carton vegetable broth
  • 10 tall deli containers
  • 5 2-gallon sized ziploc bags
  • 8 oz tiny pasta
  • Spices
  • thyme
  • onion powder
  • nutmeg
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper
  • Italian seasoning

Shopping tips

I highly recommend using an online shopping services such as Amazon Fresh or Walmart Grocery delivery. These services enable you to place an order the night before, usually up until 11 p.m. or even midnight, and have groceries at your door by 7 a.m. They are absolute game changers. Using these services saves you time and money – when you’re not actually in the store, there’s no chance for impulse purchases. And if you’ve got kids at home, or the weather’s funky, you get to stay in the comfort of your home while someone else does all the work. And that’s a beautiful thing.

chefs knife with sliced veggies You'd be surprised how much you'll like your kitchen when you have the right tools. (Photo: Sarah F. Berkowitz)

Once you’ve got the shopping done, it’s time to get chopping. Roll up your sleeves, turn on some music, get on some gloves, and get ready to go! Lay out the peeler, chopping knife, paring knife, cutting board, garlic press, and 5 ziploc bags labeled with each type of soup. I also like to lay out a shopping bag to catch all my peels and other trash.

Prep tips

Start with chopping the onions. Divide them among the 5 bags, putting a double portion into the carrot cauliflower bag (no need to be precise, approximate distribution works fine!).

Next, hit your garlic heads with a mallet or hammer a few times to loosen the cloves, and then add 3 cloves minced garlic to each of the soups (aside from carrot thyme lentil). Use less if you prefer, or more if you like your soups garlicky.

Peel and slice the shallot and add to the creamy shallot bag, along with the sliced shiitake mushrooms. Rinse and slice the portobello caps and add those to the bag, too.

Mushrooms Mushrooms are a must for soup prep. (Photo: Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock)

Dump the carrot chips onto your cutting board (depending on size, you may want to chop just 2 bags at a time), and chop the carrot chips into smaller pieces. Divide among all soups.

Lay celery sticks on your cutting board. Cut the sticks lengthwise, and then into thin slices. Divide among all soups.

Wash and chop zucchini squash. Divide among minestrone, tomato vegetable and carrot cauliflower bags.

Peel and chop sweet potato, and add to tomato vegetable bag.

Dice green pepper and tomatoes, and add to minestrone bag.

Frozen cauliflower gets added to tomato vegetable and carrot cauliflower soups, one bag in each. Corn goes into tomato vegetable bag, leeks into carrot cauliflower bag. (I buy frozen sliced leeks or fresh trimmed leeks at Trader Joe’s, big time saver!)

That’s it for the prep for now; did you reach the full hour, or are you a speed demon in the kitchen?! Seal the bags and stick them into the freezer, and when you’re ready to cook each soup, continue reading…

Soup recipes

Carrot cauliflower (serves 8-10)

Carrot cauliflower soup. This carrot cauliflower soup is thick, flavorful and packed with fiber-rich beans and vegetables. (Photo: Sarah F. Berkowitz)

Pour carrot juice into a large pot. Fill empty bottle with water and add to pot. Add contents of your veggie bag and 2 tablespoons no-salt seasoning. Rinse and drain the white beans, and add those to the pot. Bring to a boil, turn heat to low, and simmer for 1-2 hours. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup, leaving some chunks if desired.

Tomato vegetable (serves 6-8)

Pour marinara jars into a pot, and then fill an empty jar with water and add to the pot. Add vegetable bag. Bring to a boil, turn heat to low, and simmer for 1-2 hours. Add broccoli in last few minutes of cooking. Taste, and add pepper if desired. Usually the seasoning from the marinara and flavor of the veggies is enough for this wonderful, hearty soup!

Carrot thyme lentil (serves 6)

carrot thyme lentil soup This cozy, fragrant soup combines the best winter-warming ingredients. (Photo: Sarah Berkowitz)

Pour carrots into a medium pot. Add lentils, 4 cups of water, thyme, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 1-2 hours.

Minestrone (serves 8-10)

minestrone soup with Israeli couscous. Keep soup simple and savory with this minestrone recipe. (Photo: Jerry James Stone)

Pour vegetable bag into a large pot. Add rinsed and drained small kidney beans, and a can of tomato chunks. Add 8 cups water, 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning, and a few shakes freshly ground black pepper and salt. Add 6 cups water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, and allow to cook for 1-2 hours. In last half hour, add pasta (if using) and 2 parsley cubes.

Creamy shallot and shiitake (serves 4-6)

Spray medium sized pot with non-stick spray, or heat up 1-2 tablespoons olive oil. Pour bag of onions, garlic, and mushrooms into pot and saute on high for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add coconut milk, and 2 cans full of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and allow to simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat, and use immersion blender to puree. Season with 1-2 tablespoons amino acids, a dash of black pepper, a tablespoon onion powder and a teaspoon of no-salt seasoning, if desired.


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How to prep a week of soups in under an hour
We provide the shopping list, tips and recipes to make winter food prep easy and fun.