Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Clean Out the Fridge Soup

When the refrigerator ends up with a variety of odds and ends, it’s time to make soup.  Yep, soup is a great way to meld those foods that are begging to be used.  For a minestrone-like style, all you need is some fresh ground meat (or not, if you’re making a vegetarian-style soup),  garlic, yellow or white onions, veggies, beans, canned or fresh tomatoes, maybe potatoes, and a little pasta. Use whatever you’ve got on hand and take the opportunity to make good use from the little pieces of things in your fridge.

Root around the refrigerator for veggies.  Cut the vegetables and set aside.  Use up what you've been putting off cooking, such as the bunch of dark leafy green something that my dad gave me from his garden.

Add the aromatics first to the browned meat – garlic, onions.

The add the more dense veggies, such as carrots and cabbage. (Sorry for the steam in the photo.)

Drop in the celery.  Add chicken broth or a chicken broth/water combo to cover ingredients in pot plus 2”inches. 

If there are little hardened chunks of aged cheeses that have been lurking in your fridge for months, now is the time to find them to throw in the soup.  No need to cut them for they’ll get thrown out after flavoring the soup.  Careful to not use the cheeses with waxed rinds, such as the pieces pictured here with the tire tracks.

The oregano and thyme needed haircuts so they became part of the soup. Run your fingers backwards on the thyme stem to pop off the leaves.  Snip the oregano.  Dry herbs can also be used.

Even if the canned tomatoes are cut, squish them as you pour them with juices into the soup.  


Clean Out the Fridge Soup

1 lb. ground beef (omit if making vegetarian soup)
2-3 cloves garlic
1 yellow onion
2-3 carrots
2 stalks celery
Vegetables – anything green including cabbage, zucchini, broccoli, chard, kale, green beans,
1-2 potatoes, red or gold, if desired
2 cans chicken or vegetable broth (about 30 oz.)
1 can tomatoes, whole or chopped,  or 2 fresh tomatoes cut up (about 15 oz.)
Handful of dry pasta (about ¾ cup) of any shape or cooked leftover pasta
1-2 cans beans such as red kidney or garbanzo, rinsed and drained (about 30 oz.)
Salt and pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese for garnish

Smashed and coarsely chopped garlic and coarsely chopped onion. Set aside in a small bowl separate from the other vegetables.

Slice carrots into 1/4” coins.  Slice celery on the diagonal ¼” thick.  Rough cut other vegetables. Cut potatoes into 1” chunks.

In a dutch oven over medium-high heat, crumble ground meat and brown until almost done.  Make a clearing in the middle of the browned beef  and add garlic and onion to sauté lightly, stirring carefully, about 1-2 minutes.  Add carrots and celery; stir a couple of times and cook for 1-2 minutes, reducing heat if necessary.  Add remaining hard vegetables, stir and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes.

Pour in broth and supplement with water  to cover pan ingredients by 2".  Cover pot, bring soup to a boil  and reduce to low heat.  If using cheese rinds, this would be the time to drop them in.   Add herbs if using.  Gently simmer soup for about 20 minutes.
Increase heat to medium and add leafy vegetables and tomatoes with juices.  Crush tomatoes with hand even if they are already cut.  Bring the soup to a soft boil, about 5 minutes.  Add uncooked pasta and lower heat to simmer for 10-15 minutes.  Stir occasionally.

Adjust heat to medium and stir in canned beans, cooked pasta (if using).  Bring to a soft boil; stir occasionally.  Add salt and pepper to taste.


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