Chicken Noodle Soup:
In a large stock pot, saute onion, garlic, carrots, and celery seasoned with S&P. Add previously cooked chicken whacked into bite-size pieces (I usually use leftovers from roasted chicken, but you can easily grill up a breast to use if you'd like). Saute briefly. Add low-sodium chicken broth/stock and water. Season with dried thyme, minced rosemary, a bay leaf and more S&P if you desire. Bring to a rapid boil. Add wide egg noodles. Simmer 15 minutes.
Beef and Barley Soup (my fave!):
Cut stew beef chunks into bite-size pieces. Season with S&P. Heat a tiny bit of olive oil in a large stock pot, add beef and sear on all sides. Add onion, carrots, celery and garlic and saute until soft. Add a couple of good glugs of balsamic vinegar and worcestershire sauce. Scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add a carton of low-sodium beef broth, a large can of tomato puree, and a can of water. Season with a bay leaf, minced rosemary, a sprinkling of Splenda (or sugar), and more S&P if you desire. Bring to a boil. Stir in approx. 1 cup of pearl barley (NOT THE QUICK COOKING KIND!). Simmer 30-45 minutes, stirring regularly. Once the barley starts to release starch, the soup will thicken (YUM!), but it will also start to stick to the bottom of the pan and burn, so be sure you stir every few minutes.