Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Dept. of Home Economics: Use-It-Up Soup Recipe

Gentle readers, I lied to you a little bit in the title for this post.  Use-It-Up Soup is more a method than an actual recipe.  I don't know what you have in your refrigerator that needs to be used up; in fact, I'll bet you don't, either.  That's okay, you can go check.  I'll wait.

Got your list?  Let's begin.

Use-It-Up Soup


1 Tbsp. olive oil or vegetable oil
1 medium onion, diced
3-ish carrots, diced
2-3 stalks celery, diced (aim for roughly equal amounts onion, carrot, and celery)
2 cloves garlic, minced (use more or less to taste)
1 15.5 oz. can beans of your choice, rinsed and drained OR 1/2 cup uncooked lentils, rinsed and drained
1 28-30 oz. can tomatoes of some type: diced, crushed, whole (chop them up before adding)
4-6 cups of water, stock, or combination (depends on amount of stuff to use up and how thick you like your soup)
2-3 potatoes peeled and diced (optional)
Vegetables: fresh, frozen, or cooked, cut to bite size (avoid anything cabbagy, such as broccoli or brussels sprouts)
Leftover cooked meat
Leftover cooked pasta or rice (omit potatoes)
Salt & Pepper
Herbs and spices of your choice


1. Heat oil in soup pot or dutch oven over medium heat.  When hot, add the onions, carrot, and celery and cook until onion is translucent, 5-7 minutes.  (I season these with a little salt and pepper).

2. Add garlic, saute one minute more.

3. Add beans, tomatoes, water or stock, and potatoes, if using.  At this point, add any fresh vegetables and dried herbs and spices you are using.  Season with salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for about 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally (you want your potatoes and lentils, if using, almost but not quite done when you add the rest).   Add water or stock if needed to maintain soup consistency.

4. If you're using frozen vegetables, give them about 10 minutes of cooking time at the end -- 5 to get the soup back to temperature and 5 to cook.

5. Leftover vegetables, meat, and pasta or rice (if using), and fresh herbs (if you have them) go in for the last 5 minutes of cooking time.  Heat through.  Another option is to put the rice or pasta in the bottom of each bowl and pour the hot soup over it.

6. Taste, adjust seasonings, and serve.


~ Match your stock to the meat you're using (chicken with chicken, beef with beef).  Chicken stock works well with leftover pork or turkey.
~ You can omit the meat entirely.  The beans, veggies, and starch will still give you a hearty soup.
~ Try out different combinations.  I put some leftover water chestnuts in my soup last week, and to my surprise they maintained their crunch even after 30 minutes of simmering.  They added a fun texture to the finished soup.
~ Lentils need more cooking time than canned beans, so plan to simmer them 30-40 minutes.

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