You’re likely to discover small amounts of beans, chicken, peas and tomato too useful to discard but not quite enough for a meal. With a little kitchen sleight of hand, you can turn these leftovers into “refrigerator soups” in many flavors.
Next time you clean out your refrigerator, expect a treasure hunt. You’re likely to discover small amounts of beans, chicken, peas and tomato too useful to discard but not quite enough for a meal. With a little kitchen sleight of hand, you can turn these leftovers into “refrigerator soups” in many flavors.
A tasty favorite: If you have chicken and assorted vegetables, Chicken Vegetable Soup will be a breeze. Add cooked rice, potatoes or pasta if they’re handy. You’ll also need bay leaves, ground oregano and broth. We diced onion and sautéed it, then added about half a cup each of peas, green beans, baby limas, black beans, corn kernels and tomato. Next came about 4 cups of chicken broth, a cup of bite-sized chicken pieces, a bay leaf and some oregano.
As a flavorful thickener, we used roux (pronounced roo). Melt a tablespoon of unsalted butter in a small pan. Stir in a tablespoon of all-purpose flour and cook until it’s golden brown and loses its raw, floury flavor. When our soup reached a boil, we reduced it to a simmer and mixed a little hot broth with the roux. Then we stirred spoonfuls of roux into the soup until it began to develop body.
By then, the soup was almost done. Most of the ingredients had been cooked already and didn’t require hours of simmering. They didn’t need more salt or pepper, either. This soup is served hot, garnished with sour cream.
Fast, not classic:Our soups start with sautéed onion instead of mirepoix (onion, carrot and celery), which forms the base of many classic recipes. But in either case, the vegetables need to be “sweated” – cooked until they release their flavorful fluid. Then add other ingredients. Don’t simmer cooked ingredients too long, or you’ll end up with mush.
Broth: You can buy broth or make your own from the bones of chicken you roast or buy ready-cooked. Cover the bones with cold tap water. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to simmer for a few hours. To make basic beef broth, use roasted beef bones. Strain the chicken or beef broth and let sit in the fridge for a day or two. Before using the broth, skim off the fat that has risen to the top and become firm.
Flavors: Choose seasonings that suit your ingredients: basil, bay leaves, chopped jalapeno, oregano, rosemary, sage. Instead of adding a load of salt, let fresh lemon juice bring the soup into focus on your taste buds.
1 tablespoon oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 cup diced red onion, divided
1 1/2 cups cooked corn kernels
1 3/4 cups creamed corn
2 cups chicken broth
3/4 cup cubed ham, cooked
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon garam masala (or a mix of ground coriander, cardamom, cumin, cinnamon and pepper)
2 cups small broccoli florets
2/3 cup half-and-half or cream
2 slices bacon, fried crispy, drained and crumbled
1. In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, place oil and butter. After butter melts, add half the onion and saute until it’s translucent and begins to release its liquid.
2. Add corn kernels and creamed corn. Bring to a low boil, stirring to keep corn from sticking. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Place in a food processor and whip smooth.
4. Return corn mixture to saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in remaining onion, broth, ham, bay leaf and garam masala (or other favorite spices). Stir in broccoli florets.
5. Bring soup just to a boil, then reduce heat. Add half-and-half. Heat soup to serving temperature.
6. Serve hot, garnished with crumbled bacon.
Makes about 5 3/4 cups.
Sausage and Mushroom Soup
We used our favorite pizza ingredients for this soup. It could be garnished with shredded mozzarella cheese instead of basil.
1 tablespoon olive oil, more as needed
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced celery
1 cup of 3/4-inch sausage balls (mild Italian sausage works well here)
1 ¼ cup mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups beef broth
1/3 cup tomato puree
1/3 cup diced tomato
1/4 cup finely diced green bell pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground fennel
1 bay leaf
Ground basil, to taste
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon flour
Garnish: Fresh basil leaves
1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute until translucent. Add celery and saute until the vegetables release their natural liquid. Move onion and celery to a large bowl.
2. Place sausage balls in the saucepan, adding oil as needed, and cook, stirring gently so they hold their shape. Add cooked sausage to the onion mixture.
3. Place mushrooms in saucepan and saute. Add cooked onion, celery and sausage. Stir in broth, tomato puree and diced tomato, then green pepper, fennel, bay leaf and ground basil.
4. In a small pan, make roux: Melt butter and stir in flour. Cook until it’s golden brown. Add 2 tablespoons of hot broth and whisk, smoothing out any lumps. Stir roux into the soup a little at a time.
5. Bring the soup just to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Serve hot, garnished with basil.
Makes about 4 ¾ cups.