Thursday, January 7, 2010

Leftovers Soup

Aren't we all trying to save money and eat better?  Leftovers is one of my favorite and most delicious ways to do both.  And it's easier than you think.  The key is, you do not have to do a batch every week to keep food from going to waste thanks to the modern marvel we call the freezer.

I hate throwing food away and yet there always seems to be some produce we have bought in a disproportionate amount that I can't finish up, or just enough sauce or meat left after a meal that it won't make a satisfying leftover in itself but seems too much to trash.

I take these bits and pieces, toss them in a freezer zipper bag and stick them in my freezer door.  Examples?  Whenever I make pasta sauce with italian sausage or beef, I freeze the last cup or so that doesn't get finished in my family?  If I buy zucchini for bread and have too much I cut it up and freeze it.  I prefer to buy the shredded broccoli slaw in the produce department and make my own slaw rather than buying the too sweet and too fattening deli version but we can never eat the whole bag before it starts to go bad.  So I only "slaw" half or so and freeze the plain shredded broccoli.

The key to leftover soup is deciding on a base and taking it from there.  At the most basic, you decide tomato, broth or gravy based.  Then go another step, if its tomato, do an Italian if you are using pasta sauce and add an extra can of diced tomatoes, some extra garlic and oregano.  Or make it a taco soup and add in a can of green chilis and a taco seasoning packet.  If it is broth based, use the meat you have, chicken, ham or beef (often you can mix them.)  Add some bouillon or a can of broth.  If it is leftover roast you can use a gravy packet and water it down.

Next comes the leftovers.  Produce is your best bet, fresh, frozen and occasionally canned.  Spinach, onion, celery, carrots, baby tomatoes, cauliflower, shredded get the picture.  Really want to give it some bank for the buck in terms of being filling and nutritious?  Add a can of beans or two.

Keep adding water and let it simmer.  Your house will smell lovely, dinner will be ready whenever you and your family are.  And you will learn as time goes on how to cook on a whim experimenting with spices and flavors that blend well.

Good luck and happy leftovers to you!

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