Salad Bar Soup

The name of this soup strikes me as particularly hokey. However, salad bar soup is precisely what this is. I was in Whole Foods on a strategic apple research sortie, which I had to squeeze in before the all out fun and chaos of helping lead a 36 girl Brownie troop through a “meeting.” I had about 5 extra minutes to figure out a dinner plan that I would have no more than 30 minutes to prepare later that night, AND everything had to sit in my car for several hours…which was fine because it was about 40 degrees outside.

Whole Foods has an amazing salad bar and an area in the produce section with prepared vegetables, and by that I mean they are raw, but already chopped and sliced.

So I grabbed a container and threw in a handful of julienned carrots, asparagus spears, sliced mushrooms, and a bunch of green onions. On the way to the salad bar area I grabbed several cans of chicken broth, a container of refrigerated cheese tortellini, a wedge of parmesan-reggiano cheese, and a loaf of crusty bread. At the salad bar, I obtained a big handful of fresh baby spinach and green peas.

If you don’t have this sort of salad bar at hand, you can surely use frozen versions of these items, but you will need to adjust your cooking times accordingly.

Upon returning home, with my rear absolutely and positively kicked by the very bouncy and excellent troop…each girl of which I love dearly, I threw it all in a pot and cooked it for perhaps ten minutes total. It is fresh and simple. It is hot and hearty. It is beyond easy. Try it one night when you aren’t in the mood for a production but you still are craving fresh and healthful food.

Salad Bar Soup
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4
  • 4 (14.5 ounce) cans of low sodium chicken broth (or 3 plus 1 can of water)
  • 1 (9 ounce) package of refrigerated cheese tortellini
  • 3 cups assorted chopped vegetables (asparagus, carrots, green onions, peas, spinach, mushrooms, etc)
  • ½ teaspoon dried basil
  • salt and pepper
  • parmesan cheese
  1. Bring the broth and water (if using) to a simmer. You can add the rind of the cheese to the broth for a little added flavor. Add the tortellini, carrots and mushrooms and any vegetables that need a longer cooking time. Simmer for 3 to 4 minutes.
  2. Add the asparagus, and any remaining vegetables that need a shorter time to cook. Also add the dried basil. Simmer for an additional 2 minutes.
  3. Remove the soup pot from the heat and add in the spinach, green onions, and peas. The peas will warm and the spinach will wilt with the residual heat, and need not actually cook. Season (liberally) to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Serve with warm bread and shredded parmesan cheese.

There is truly no end to the number and variety of vegetables you can add to this simple soup. I’d love to hear what you add if you try it.


  1. Elsa Rector says

    Kelly, what a great idea!I get a discount on the salad bar at our local hospital because I am a volunteer. Fred is gong to have a new quick dinner. Another good hint: Buy canned chicken broth by the case when it is on sale. Thanksgiving is the best time.

  2. Barbi Norton says

    Boy, this is right up my alley! Can’t wait to try this recipe. I’m trying to eat more veggies every day and this would be a great way to get more veggies in a meal. Thanks!

  3. Mom says

    Kelly, I must admit, I did not stick with my PIE/technology diet. When you mentioned National Pie Day, and I contacted Betty K., who contacted Christi W., who contacted Robin F., who told one of the richest PIE stories ever, it was more like a reunion than a NPD celebration. Then hearing from her dear daughter (and Amy’s friend) Kara was just the best. Now, will you please, someday, do a post on the authentic Ritz Cracker Pie with Lemon Curd and Whipped Cream. It will definitely not be a “humble pie.”

  4. says

    We’re using this one for Lent! I can make it with vegetable broth and grab some tofu with the veg and it will be awesome. Thanks!!

  5. Mona says

    So easy at the store :) In & Out in a flash (did not stop at wine section)
    …forgot tortollini :( Really!!!??? xo

  6. Kelly says

    You must go back for the tortellini, Mona. You simply must. Then you can stop and browse the wine section, too. You will richly deserve it at that point.


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