Clean Out the Fridge Soup is one of my favorites. You cook it -from scratch- using whatever leftovers and neglected produce are in your fridge. The resulting soup is different every time and your Tupperware is set free and reunited in the cabinet.
Let’s get started!
Step 1: Pull out all of your dilapidated vegetables and abandoned meat, especially the ones that are hiding in dark corners. Be brave, but not stupid. Give the meat a sniff, and inspect the plants. Wilted does not mean inedible; plants don’t need to be pretty to be soup.
Step 2: Put the soup pot on the stove and turn the burner on to medium or medium high.
Step 3: Chop up a medium onion and mince 2-3 cloves of garlic. If you’re adding celery, mushrooms, or raw meat, chop those too. When the pot is hot, add your choice of fat: oil, butter, bacon, etc. Olive oil is the healthiest, but butter and bacon add flavor. When the fat is hot, sauté the onion and garlic (and celery and mushrooms and meat) until tender or, in the case of meat, browned.
The vegetables in soup are like a contemporary music band; the right combination creates beautiful harmonies. Onion and garlic are your lead vocals and your keyboard or guitar, water and salt/seasoning are the sound wave vibrations that your ears translate into music. Without these, it’s just not a band. (If you’re not a fan of onion and/or garlic, you need remedial eating classes.)
Leftover cooked meat can be added later since it only needs to be heated, not cooked. Remember that you can mix your meats…one serving of meatloaf, a chicken leg, half a pork chop, etc.
Step 4: Add water. I add about 6 cups of water. If that feels like too much for your family, start with less. If your soup gets crowded, you can always add more water later.
Step 5: Choose and chop up your veggies; smaller is generally better, but go with whatever you prefer. If you use a food processor, your kids won’t be able to pick out the tiny bits in the broth.
Celery, carrots, zucchini, spinach, broccoli, kale, etc are your drums. You can make a band without them, but why bother? If the point of soup is to give your body nutrients, don’t leave out the colored plants.
Corn, meat, okra, turnips, squash, sweet potato, etc are the violins and harmonicas. If you like them, they add a special flare to the band. If you don’t like them, don’t add them; no harm done.
Beets are divas with control over the volume of their own microphones. I like beets, but I don’t add them to soup unless I want beet soup. You will only taste the diva.
Boil your soup just as long as you need to in order for everything to be tender. If you chop your ingredients small, they cook in 10 minutes or less.
Step 6: Add cooked leftovers. Now that your veggies are tender, add cooked meat, cooked rice, lentils, cheese, etc. Lower the heat and simmer the soup for five minutes to heat up the additions.
Step 7: Add seasoning. The easiest way to add seasoning is to add bullion paste, cubes, or packets. Bullion gives you seasoning and salt all in one easy step. Add a little, taste, add more if needed, taste. This is also when you can add herbs, pepper, or spices. When in doubt, let Simon and Garfunkel guide you: add “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme”.
Step 8: Add the secret ingredient: salt. I used to have trouble making soup. At first I would throw a lot of things into a pot and serve it. My husband got a few nasty surprises since he was generally the first one to taste it, so I started sampling dinner before dishing it. If a soup didn’t taste right, I’d add a little of this or that or those and finally my husband would ask “did you add salt?” It only took me five years to start listening to him. Before you despair, add a little salt and taste. Add a little more and taste. It’s very hard to take extra salt back out. If you over salt, try adding potato.
When it tastes good, soup’s done.
I know it can be nerve wracking to cook without a recipe. Some of you are panicking right now! NO recipe? That’s ludicrous! Anarchy won’t help me, Katie! Calm down and start by clicking here. It will lead you to a page with multiple soup recipes. Experiment when you feel comfortable. Anarchy comes with practice!
“So they ate and were filled, and they took up seven large baskets of leftover fragments.” Mark 8:8