Soups and stews and one-pots oh my...
So here's a pic of the sriracha sauce I've been talking about, and it's just one of many sources of heat. For me just a couple of drops can make all the difference. There are lots of chili type sauces in bottles and jars - and sometimes I just use dried chilies and throw them into the pot to change the personality of what might have been somewhat banal before.
So why change it up?
My mission today is global!
I'd like to see a place for all those leftovers that get thrown into the garbage in hundreds of thousands of households across the world. It seems so negligent and unthinking that we can't do better than that, at least in our own homes.
I don't know if bringing an enlightened attitude to the nasty habit of food waste will help feed "the starving children in China" (clean your plates kids) but it will surely make a difference in the wasted time, effort and expense that so many people complain about with the rising cost of food.
Besides - I think it actually will help the starving children of everywhere when we become more conscious of our relationship with the cycles of food delivery period.
Here's what to do whenever you look in the back of the fridge and think "what am I gonna do with that??"
Every soup or one-pot meal has it's own charm, so I'm just going to give you a few of my own basics, and I'm only touching the surface! Cooked leftovers go in at the end.
What's good and good for you:
- I can't sing the praises of the humble crock pot enough.
- start with water or use any broth of your choice. I like the organic broth that comes in boxes in the supermarket as a starter. One box gets stretched into many times it's size in this household...
- buy fresh herbs, cut them up and use liberally in any one-pot.
- you can use any and all veggies, snippets of meat or tofu, every grain imaginable, legumes, beans, spices, and all your pre-made ingredients are fair game.
- the box of whatever you brought home from the restaurant last night that had that fabulous sauce on it is fair game. Five bites of a favorite dish might not seem worth taking home, but once added to a soup concoction it can make all the difference.
- freedom to explore = good use for almost every type of leftover in addition to a marked reduction in those throwaways from the back of the fridge.
- put items that do not need more cooking in to the pot at the end or you will pulverize them especially pasta, rice, pre-cooked grains or dumplings...these all go in the pot at the end just to cook through.
- don't eliminate unusual additions such as cooked potato or yesterdays yam.
- feel free to add just one or two substantial ingredients from a previous dish skipping other items (like soggy bread etc. :)
- most everything is fair game.
Here's where I went today, this soup as simple as it gets:
During passover when the markets were jammed with all things kosher, I picked up some jars of matzo balls - a comfort food from my childhood since I grew up in a Jewish neighborhood and was given matzo ball soup by a number of kindly neighbor mom's who seemed to lovingly dote on their children with it.
Into my crock pot went a box of organic chicken broth (use veggie as desired), all my fresh herbs on hand (rosemary, parsley, bay leaf, thyme) chopped carrot, peas, kernels from corn on the cob, celery, a small potato, and a few hot drops. Cook.
Shredded cooked chicken cutlet can be added. So can tofu. Keep the whole thing on crock pot simmer till ready to serve.
Add the matzo balls in toward the end.
I also added pre-cooked egg noodles. (Use soba noodles, angel hair pasta, orzo as well, cooked separately and reserved.)
I have found you can cook all beans and legumes "as is" after rinsing, no mater what the bag or recipe says about pre-soaking, but do get them going first. Black beans, white beans, split peas, lentils - right into the broth or water! Cover and they will cook nicely. Add herbs in the beginning - veggies according to hardness as you go - cooked foods near the end.
You have probably noticed I work with the philosophy that any and every meal can be enhanced by adding more of the stuff that is already nutritious on it's own. If I can find space for a veggie in any meal for any reason at all, in it goes! If you are not already a high-veggie type, this one conscious shift toward the creative use of veggies (whether typical in the dish or not) can be a dramatic benefit to your overall health.
Grated cheese over the top of soup is a time honored tradition. Most hard cheeses work.
Crusty bread rounds out the meal.
Sage advise for the day
Mantra: repeat daily...
"What veggies do I have on hand...how can I add them to this meal..."
What's on your plate?