When the cold weather hits I haul out my crockpot and start making soup.
No Matter what the recipe is I usually start by adding 2 large onions, 5-6 cloves of garlic, 2 large carrots, 3 stalks of celery with the leaves and fresh parsley. I use a small food processor for the onions, garlic, celery leaves and parsley and when I am done I rinse the bowl of the food processor with a little water to get every last bit of veggie goodness and add it to the pot. It always make me feel very frugal.
What has saved many an otherwise ho-hum pot of soup is a jar of Better than Bouillon in my fridge. Just add a heaping tablespoon or two and it tastes better every time. I have given jars of it as gifts, that's how much I like it. Somewhere I read about a woman who feels the same way about Italian Seasoning, she said she puts it in everything and so I crush some in my hands to get the most flavor and add it too.
Next I add some type of protein - meat, barley or beans. Beans!. There is this awesome little Mennonite store by my Mom's house that sells all sorts of beans in bags for a very reasonable price. I like to buy all different colors and then mix them together in tall storage jars ( it looks pretty on the shelf too).
A friend told me that her kids will eat any soup with Red Lentils in it because they make the soup creamy. So that is one of the beans I add to my mix.
I like that I can throw this all in the night before and let it cook on low while I sleep.
In the morning I take a peek and if necessary add some more water and it is ready to eat by lunch.