Soups are pretty easy. You chuck some stuff together in a pot, season carefully, add some liquid and let it go. It's also a great way to get rid of some leftovers you might not be able to use. I made the following soup to clean out some bratwurst and rice that had been sitting in my fridge for a few days.
The ingredients for this dish are:
1/2 an onion
3 Bratwurst or other sausage (cooked beforehand)
3 cloves of garlic
2 small potatoes
1 can of corn, or 1 and 1/2 cups of frozen or leftover corn
1 cup rice (precooked if you have it)
3 cups beef broth
3 cups water
1/2 cup half and half
1 bay leaf (for convention's sake)
The assembly of this dish is as follows:
Pour some olive or vegetable oil into the bottom of a dutch oven or other similar pot. Turn the heat to high. Chop the onions, the sausage and the potatoes to the sizes you want in your soup. I prefer mine a bit on the chunky side so I do a rough chop. Once the oil in the pan is hot, add the onions. Salt and pepper them while they cook. You can add some garlic powder if you have it handy as well.
Deglaze the pan with 1/2 a cup of broth and 1/2 a cup of water. Add the 1/2 cup of half and half and stir quickly. Now throw in the sausage and potatoes and allow to come to a simmer. Once simmer has been achieved, add in the can of corn, juice and all. If you aren't using a can of corn, instead throw in a teaspoon of sugar and an extra 1/2 cup of water later on when the rest of the liquids are added. Throw the rice and the garlic cloves in as well.
I used leftover rice for my meal, but if you add an extra cup of water and 12/ cup of broth or so you should be able to just throw in some dried rice without much difficulty.
Once all the important solids are in, toss them around to get a good coating of liquid on them. Now dump in the rest of your liquids, adjusting as noted above for dry rice or frozen/fresh corn. Add the bay leaf and stir around to achieve a good mix. Keep the pot on high heat until the dish achieves a simmer. Let it simmer for two minutes, then move to medium low heat on a back burner for about an hour.
Serve with a crusty bread and a sharp dry cheese.
This is just a basic soup recipe. The ingredients aren't as important as the technique here. If you want to go more in a chowder direction, remove the rice, add more cream and potatoes and cook on a slightly higher heat. If you want more of a stew, use less broth, add some larger chunks of onion and potatoes, and cook longer on a lower heat. If you wanted it to be more soupy, cut back on all of the ingredients and focus on seasoning the broth.
This is really kind of a midpoint between many different soup variations, and learning how to make a soup like this is a good way to figure out how to move on to those other variations.