I like onion, a can of tomatoes in mine. I've additionally added small pieces of carrots, and sometimes small pieces of celery, but not always. Some celery seed works also.
To me, sautéing the onions, etc. is better than adding them raw.
Also, garlic was a must when I used to make it. I actually used garlic juice in mine, but when you don't have it, you can use a mix of fresh garlic, and powdered garlic, if you've got them.
Cooked and chopped or crumbled bacon is a nice addition.
Salt, pepper, the garlic powder, onion powder. Some people add cumin. That's a personal choice.
I've added fresh parsley when I had it.
Some people add lemon juice. I've never tried it. It might be wonderful, but I'd take a spoonful of the soup out, add a couple of drops of lemon and try it before adding it to the whole thing. Just to make sure that it's what you are thinking.
In fact, even if you like it, I'd probably add it at the end, to your bowl. Sometimes lemon in soups changes flavor if kept.
Oh yes, and chicken or vegetable stock/broth! You can use water, but broth always adds a nice flavor to a soup.
Mine used to come out thickish, but be careful of gumminess. Adding extra broth as needed helps.
To me, it can be too bland. That's why I love adding cut up canned tomatoes, and if I made a large pot, sometimes a small can of sauce, as well.
Don't be shy with the flavors is my advise, including salt. Add it to the liquid, and keep tasting. If it's just not right, it may need more salt, or more of everything. Think of it as a pot of beans.
I hope that this helps.
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