Monday, January 18, 2010

Leftover Soup

To clarify, this isn't leftover soup, but soup made from leftovers. I know that the meal plan states that I'm making Ham and Bean Soup or Zippy Chicken Soup for dinner tonight. However, last week I made this soup from leftover beef and noodles. After heating up the beef and noodles for the lunch the next day, I think that we were all just "over it". I can't stand to throw out food, so the best way that I know to use up leftovers that no one wants is to turn it into something else. The elements of the leftovers are still there, but the flavors and textures are different.

Last Monday, I read an excellent post at Always Order Dessert titled, "10 Tips for Reducing Food Waste in 2010". Alejandra has some wonderful, practical tips for curbing the waste in your kitchens. We all deal with this problem. Not only is it sad and frustrating to waste food when so many in this world have to go without, but it effects the bottom line in our households. Here's a quote from the beginning of Alejandra's post, "a recent study found that Americans throw away 50% more food today than they did back in 1974. How awful is that? Not only is 50% more food going to waste, a lot of money is also being tossed away along with the slimy parsley and shriveled carrots."

My thoughts exactly! So how can we stop the waste? If you're looking for ideas, check out this post at Always Order Dessert. I'm pretty careful about avoiding waste in our household. When I plan my meals , I take inventory of the fridge and pantry and look for recipes that will use up those ingredients that are closer to expiration or produce that will not last much longer. When I purchase fresh produce, I have a plan in mind and know when it will be used. I try to purchase only as much produce and as many perishable items as we can consume between shopping trips. As Alejandra suggests, I am a "grocery day prep cook". I clean fruits and veggies soon after unpacking from a shopping trip, so they are at the ready for a healthy snack and therefore more likely to be eaten. If I make a larger quantity of food than we can eat in a day or two of re-heats, I freeze it for a later date. And finally, when I can, when I am feeling creative enough, I turn my leftovers into a whole other meal, like this soup.

No recipe today, I just pulled ingredients from the fridge, freezer, and pantry and figured it out as I went along. Here's what I started with: a container of leftover beef and noodles. I pulled out some beef broth, bouillon cubes, a freezer bag of soup veggies, an onion, and some parsley (because it needed to be used).

I diced and sauteed the onion in a soup pot until it was tender, then I poured in the soup veggies and cooked them for a bit with the lid on.

Next I dumped in my leftovers and added the broth (enough to make it look like soup) and a bouillon cube or two. After simmering and tasting, I ended up adding about half of a can of tomato paste (a little at a time until I got it just right), some Italian seasoning, and salt and pepper.

I sprinkled the soup with some fresh parsley and served each bowl up with a slice of Texas toast and that was dinner. It was hot and hearty and my family was happy. Yay for leftover soup!

Anyone can tailor leftover soup to their personal taste based on what's in your fridge or pantry. I usually begin with veggies. So if you've got celery, carrots, or cabbage that are "on the verge" in your fridge, toss em' in. Potatoes too! I always buy a bag of soup or stew veggies when they go on sale for occasions such as this and I keep em' in the freezer. Once the veggies are sauteed or cooked, add in the broth of your choice and stir in leftover meat. Add in some noodles or pasta well-suited for soup such as ditalini, if you like. Season it until you get it right and you've got a whole new meal. Or maybe meals. If you make a large amount of "leftover soup", you can always freeze it. See, now doesn't that make you feel better than scraping leftovers into the trash? Make leftover soup or even stew next time!


Mary | Deep South Dish said...

To me, these are the BEST kinds of soups!

That's a great post and the 2nd time here recently that I've heard of it. Here's another idea from my vault. Next time you have a bit of leftover corn, peas, green beans, carrots, or whatever, you know, that extra tablespoon or three left in the saucepan or serving dish that nobody wanted?

Put those in a pint sized freezer container and store them in your freezer. Then everytime you have a just a bit of leftover veggies, top that container off and put it back in the fridge. When it's full, time for soup! Little scraps of leftover veggies that normally would be scraped into the garbage can, have suddenly become a whole 'nother meal. You can do the same thing with leftover meat - from the platter or the carcass. Just bag it up until you have enough for soup.:)

Kim said...

Not only do I think it is admirable, but smart to make use of everything in your kitchen. I love that you created a soup to use up your leftovers. I have so much fun making things from what is on hand. It looks like it was a wonderful hearty meal.

Inspired by eRecipeCards said...

Something about January just wants everyone to clean out the pantry

Katy ~ said...

I LUV LUV LUV this kind of soup. And you are so right about waste. We're taking a harder line on being less wasteful. Even if it costs more we buy smaller quanities, because we end up throwing away our money with uneaten food.

Donna-FFW said...

I so love this concept, Krista. I have to try it. It sounds and looks do delicious and nothing is better than a warm bowl of soup!!

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