Bone broth: I have a goal to have bone broth available at all times. Not the stuff that comes in a can or those little salty cubes but homemade broth that contains minerals in a form that the body can easily absorb. I use a rather simple method for making my broth which you can read about here. Kim, the Nourishing Cook posts a recipe for beef broth and chicken broth that are probably more true to the way that broth should be made per the book Nourishing Traditions. If you are not currently making broth on a regular basis I would suggest that you add that to your kitchen repertoire. My version of broth requires about 5 minutes hands on time (if that) and I get a half gallon (or so) of beautiful rich broth.
The Vegetables: Root vegetables are my first choice for soups and stews. Carrots, onions, potatoes which we always have on hand are my ‘go to’ vegetables. Celery is great too but it isn’t something we buy often. Sometimes I’ll also add tomatoes or tomato paste. And any leftover vegetables hanging out in the fridge are fair game for soups as is the remains of frozen vegetables (sometimes I will only use 1/2 or 3/4 of the bag). One thing that I have done in the past is keep a container in the freezer to add any bits of leftover vegetables served with meals and then thaw that (or not) and toss in the soup pot (this was a tip I got years ago from the Complete Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn that worked pretty good for me and I’m not sure why I haven’t started doing that again).
The Protein: My husbands first choice for protein in soups (or anything) is meat. I tend to agree with that thinking. I will sometimes use stew meats if I have it on hand (I don’t buy stew meat but do have it from antelope and sometimes our beef CSA will put a package in for me) but the bulk of our stews and soups are made from leftover meats. I’ll cook a roast or a whole chicken and specify a portion of that meat to use later in the week for soup or stew (making one meal and turning it into additional meals is a great way to save on time and money). Sometimes I will plan a soup where the protein is beans or even eggs (like this Egg Drop Soup that is delicious and fast). And on occasion we will have a soup that is just bone broth and vegetables which we usually puree with our hand held blender to make a Cream of Vegetable Soup.