Life Hacks

The Whole Foods Shopping Hack I Use for Lunch in a Pinch

The soup bar has nothing on us.

July  1, 2019
Photo by Bobbi Lin

Our executive editor Joanna Sciarrino likes to call me “Soup Queen” because I eat soup for lunch every day. Better than Soup Sovereign or Soup Goblin or Soup, well, you know.

I make a big batch on the weekend, then freeze it in quart and pint containers, which I bring in to the office, and eat throughout the week. Most of the time, it’s a pureed vegetable number. Other times, it’s brothy and chunky—like chicken with vegetables or, best of all, Joanne Chang’s Hot & Sour.

But if we’re being honest, there are plenty of weeks when I don’t want to spend my Sunday making soup. (Recipe developers are humans, too!) Which means I end up at the nearby Whole Foods, where I hack the soup bar.

Is it against the rules? No. Does it make me feel rebellious? Yes. Does this say a lot about me? Yes.

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Top Comment:
“I begin by cooking the chopped vegetables and protein in my soup pot in olive oil, then add the spices to bloom , then add broth And bouillon, then add the pre-cooked pasta or rice ( which I also cook in broth prior to adding to soup pot) Lastly my secret ingredient is to add one tablespoon of coconut oil to make the broth velvety and one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to balance the flavors . It’s delicious ”
— Karen
Comment

Here’s the hack: At the soup bar, you can get different-size containers, each of which is a different price. But the soups themselves are not a different price. So, a pint of beef chili and a pint of cream of mushroom and a pint of minestrone all cost the same. That’s why I combine them.

Maybe it’s a thick soup with something brothier to thin it out. Or a meaty soup with something vegetable-dense for harmony. Or maybe it’s more than two! That’s too rebellious for me, but you? You could do anything. Whatever the combination, I love the way this trick makes takeout soup interactive and creative and pretty much impossible to become repetitive.

Here are some of the combinations on my must-try list, but mix and match however you want. The hack is yours now.

  • Chicken Tortilla + Ten Vegetable
  • Lentil + Ten Vegetable
  • Lentil + Chicken Vegetable
  • Beef Chili + Butternut Squash
  • Lobster Bisque + Butternut Squash
  • White Bean Kale + Minestrone
  • Gumbo + Minestrone
  • New England Clam Chowder + Creamy Mushroom

What soup flavors would you team up to form a super soup? Tell us in the comments!

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Launa Virgo
    Launa Virgo
  • FrugalCat
    FrugalCat
  • Karen
    Karen
  • Joanna Sciarrino
    Joanna Sciarrino
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Emma is a writer and recipe developer at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles "on the fly," baking dozens of pastries at 3 a.m., reviewing restaurants, and writing stories about everything from how to use leftover mashed potatoes to the history of pies in North Carolina. Now, she lives in Maplewood, New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter.

4 Comments

Launa V. July 11, 2019
Baked potato and tomato bisque: 3/4 baked potato and tomato bisque to fill ladled only in the middle - DO NOT STIR! this is my go-to favorite. If I have it at the office or at home, I add 1 small burrata while everything is still piping hot. By the time it is cool enough to eat, the burrata has become my very special treat at the end of it all.
 
FrugalCat July 3, 2019
I used to work somewhere that always had 2 different soups. The staff rapidly got tired of the usual rotation, so we started mixing them. 90% of the time, it was a hit. The other 10%, well...., as one of the cooks said "two wrongs don't make a right!"
 
Karen July 2, 2019
I love to make soup too . I layer the ingredients -by that I mean I gather my spices in a bowl , my broth And bouillon, my celery , onion, carrots and any other vegetable I might one to add , my protein and my pasta or rice . I begin by cooking the chopped vegetables and protein in my soup pot in olive oil, then add the spices to bloom , then add broth And bouillon, then add the pre-cooked pasta or rice ( which I also cook in broth prior to adding to soup pot) Lastly my secret ingredient is to add one tablespoon of coconut oil to make the broth velvety and one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to balance the flavors . It’s delicious
 
Joanna S. July 1, 2019
soup queen!!!