Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Something for (Almost) Nothing: Soup Jar Soup

I’ve heard this soup called “Clean Out Your Refrigerator Soup”, “Whachyagot Soup”, “Soup Bucket” and “Stuff”. It’s soup made from little bits of leftovers in the refrigerator or freezer.

It never turns out the same way twice, but it’s always edible, and in fact, almost always delicious. More than once, I wish I’d been able to recreate a batch, but it’s literally impossible because of the mish-mash of leftovers that go into it.

While this soup is mostly left to chance, there is a bit of a method I follow. Over the course of several weeks, I put any small amounts of leftovers into quart canning jars and put them in the freezer. I add to the soup jars as the leftovers become available. When a couple of quart jars are full, it’s time for soup.

I thaw all of the leftovers in the fridge overnight, then pour everything into a large pan and warm it up. I take a taste. Usually the broth will taste decidedly beefy, chicken-y, Mexican, Italian, etc. Then I enhance that dominate flavor with additional ingredients as necessary. Occasionally, the mixture will be just right straight out of the jar, but usually I have to add more spices, more vegetables, more bouillon, etc. I just play around with it until it tastes good.

The batch in the photo started out with a mild Italian flavor. It was basically a blend of some corn, peas, spaghetti sauce and leftover chicken broth. I added tomato juice, about 1/3 bag of Ranchero mixed veggies (onion, peppers and pinto beans), some basil, oregano and garlic and finally, ¼ cup of uncooked barley. By the time it simmered for an hour or so, the broth had a more pronounced flavor and was nicely thickened by the barley. I served it with hot cornbread with butter and Jell-0 with pineapple. It was a comforting meal on chilly day and literally cost just pennies per serving.


Leanne said...

I love leftover soup, but I do wish sometimes t was possible to make another batch, especially when a batch turns out the perfect "cold and flu" soup, with a bit of heat and salt.

I've a half full ziplock in the freezer for soup but it'll be another week or two before I have enough leftovers.

Annie Jones said...

Leanne: Nothing like a little homemade soup when you're not feeling well. :)