Running from the Law: Everything but the Kitchen Sink Soup

Monday, March 15, 2010

Everything but the Kitchen Sink Soup

We do a lot of cooking at our house. But inevitably, not everything in our fridge gets eaten. Some weeks turn out to be busier than expected and I don't get around to cooking every meal that I planned. Or we changed our minds about what to eat. Or something else comes up. Anyway, at the end of the week, there's leftover veggies in the fridge on the verge of going bad. And I don't want to throw them out, but it's not likely that I'm going to eat a raw half onion or a few raw potatoes. What do you do with all that food?

Make soup!

For the past few months, I've gotten in the habit to make soup on Sunday. I can usually get 4-6 big bowls of soup out of each batch and that way Ryan and I both have lunch a couple days during the week. It's healthy, cheap and convenient. Plus it saves us from throwing out food! Win, win, win.

Here's how I do it. I start with a bean soup base (beans are high fiber, low fat and lower cholesterol). It's a great base for soup b/c you can add whatever ingredients you have on hand and the flavor's a little different every time. You don't get bored with it and it's really filling so I'm not hungry again 2 hours later.

I've found 11 Bean Soup, 13 Bean Soup, and 15 Bean Soup mixes at the store. I have no idea what all kinds of beans are in them (or why they only have odd numbered beans), but whatever. You can get it at your local grocery store (plus organic stores like Whole Foods) for around $4. Can't beat that. Ryan and I both like this one...Frontier Eleven Bean Soup. It has a recipe that goes with it, but just ignore that. It'll only add a ton of sodium and fat to your soup (cook with a ham hock? I don't think so).

Beans take a while to cook. So I just throw this on the stove in a large stock pan, add 10-15 cups of water and a dash of salt and cook. Sometimes I'll substitute a little chicken or vegetable broth for some of the water. Thanks to Pierce Whole Nutrition, I'm going to try adding green tea to my next batch. Add the spice bag/pack that comes with the soup or add your own spices. And then let it cook/simmer on the stove for 2-3 hours. Yes, it takes some time, but you don't have to do anything - you don't have to watch it or stir it or anything - so let it simmer and go watch TV or do laundry or whatever. It'll make your house smell amazing too!

After a few hours of simmering, add all your chopped up left-over veggies to the bean soup. I've added everything to the soup, including peppers, onions, celery, garlic, shallots, zucchini, squash, green beans, tomatoes, okra, spinach, Swiss chard, peas, mushrooms, cauliflower, broccoli, potatoes, carrots, eggplant, cabbage, and corn. Seriously, you can add ANYTHING. Hell, add that leftover chicken breast that you thawed and never cooked. Or those fresh herbs (thyme, basil, oregano, cilantro) that you had too much of. What about frozen veggies that you might not eat...that bag of mixed vegetables that's been in there a while? Or how about adding tomato paste or a can of diced/stewed tomatoes? Why not?! Throw it all in there. Every combination leads to different flavors. Sometimes I add some Sirachi to give it more spice. Or black pepper and garlic salt. BBQ sauce, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce. Whatever you want. Chop it all up and throw it in. Season accordingly. Cook for another hour. Viola!

And now your fridge is clean, you don't have to throw those veggies away and you've got lunch for the rest of the week. Put 3-4 ladles full in plastic bowls, pop in the fridge and you're ready. You're welcome!!

Anyone else prepare meals ahead of time? Or have ideas on how else to use left-over food?


  1. Mmmm! We're really bad about making things in advance, but we DO plan our meals out for the week before we go grocery shopping. And at least one of us tries to take leftovers for lunch the next day.

  2. Is that a picture of your actual soup? It looks delish! I wouldn't normally eat bean soup though. I am NO help in the left over food area, we just throw it away!

  3. Amazing! I've never thought to do this, and I just threw out two bunches of broccoli that went bad! I'm definitely going to try this. Thanks Sara!

  4. That's a really good tip to make use of left over vegetables. I've had a number of them go soft and just threw them out. I also like making soups on the weekend, since that saves a lot on lunch food for the week!

  5. Such a smart idea! I alway feel terrible when I toss rotten veggies. Thanks for the great idea.

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