Thursday, January 7, 2010

New Year's Day soup: AKA what's in the fridge soup.

With so much cooking and eating going on during the holidays, it is hard to imagine that there could ever be a time when the fridge might be empty, but inevitably I open it and find that the days of gluttony have ended.  This happened to me on New Year's Day, when we were still curled up in our pajamas, and avoiding the frigid outdoors.  So I pulled out every scrap that was lingering in our refrigerator, and set out to make some New Year's Day soup.  I often think that some of my best cooking results come when I am faced with making something out of nothing.  A full larder just presents too many options-I like a challenge. 
Here is what I had to start with:
1 baked potato
1 container of leftover acorn squash
1 small container cooked brown rice
4 carrots
a bunch of green onions

I started by pureeing the squash and the potato with a veggie bouillon cube, water, salt and pepper.
(I took a photo of this, but the mix was not very photogenic, so just imagine a luscious mixture in the blender)
Next, I sauteed the sliced green onions in a little olive oil (I did this right in the soup pot), then added the sliced carrots and sauteed about 5 minutes-until the carrots were slightly tender.

I then poured the blended base into the sauteed veggies.......

......added a bit of spice-bay leaf, ground sage and more salt and pepper.

I was also delighted to find the rind of some sort of hard cheese stashed in the fridge.  score!
**Always keep the rinds of any kind of nice, hard cheese to simmer in your soup base-they add
the most wonderful flavor and depth**
Anyway, I popped that into the soup, and added a bit more liquid (water, in this case) at this point.
Next, I brought it all to a quick boil, then turned it down to a medium temp simmer.  Here is where I pulled out a secret punch......If you have been following, you may have seen my tip on freezing whole tomatoes.  I decided that the soup needed just a little something more, so I pulled out two of the frozen tomatoes, ran them under hot water to peel the skin off, then sliced them up, still frozen, and tossed them in!  The leftover rice went in now too, then I just simmered the whole pot until everything was cooked through and nice and warm.  I grated a bit of cheese on top, pulled out some crackers, and our New Year's Day comfort lunch was ready.
Here it is in recipe form, well, sort of.....  I have included some options, but as always,
experiment according to your whims or what is lingering in your fridge.

New Year's Day Soup

1 cooked potato (or no potato, or uncooked potatoes, cubed and thrown in as veggie option)
1 container leftover squash (or a can of pumpkin, or leftover sweet potatoes)
4 carrots (or celery, or peppers, or broccoli-or frozen veggies!)
1 bunch green onions (or regular onions, or leeks, or garlic)
1 cube veggie boullion (or chicken, or canned)
2 cups water (eliminate if using canned broth)
1 hard cheese rind (or none)
1 t sage
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper to taste
2 frozen tomatoes (or canned tomatoes, or chopped fresh if you are so lucky)
1/2 c leftover cooked brown rice (or white rice, or wild rice, or quinoa-you get the picture by now)

-follow the directions above, trust your instincts, and enjoy!

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