Saturday, September 06, 2008

Half-Scratched: Clean-out-the-Fridge Vegetable Soup

I often do this. I know I’ll be out of town for a week or longer, so I decide to forego the grocery shopping a couple of weeks prior, and use up everything perishable before I leave. I think that’s smart. Nothing to go bad while I’m gone, huh? (I hate to waste food.)

So, knowing that I leave early in the a.m. on a six-day business trip, I peer into the cold depths of my vegetable bin this morning, take a speedy inventory, and deduce, “I gotta make soup.”

Here were the vegetables in my bin. One tomato and squash left from the stash I got from my Dad’s garden last weekend. A lonely onion. Some slightly-on-the-edge of crisp celery, and baby carrots. Digging a little deeper, I find a container of cooked squash and onions left over from a night or so ago. I pull that out. Then I spy a half-full jar of salsa. Yep, won’t last until I get back, that’s going in the soup, too.

Perfect.

I checked the pantry. These things won’t go bad while but will nicely round out the soup—some brown rice, stock, and minced garlic from the fridge.

With a layer of olive oil (which I also used the last of) in the soup pan, I sautéed the onions, celery, carrots and garlic, with some salt and pepper.

About that time I remembered I had two small green peppers out on my patio garden, so I rushed out to get those. knowing that if we don’t get rain, they could wither on the plant before I get back. I also cut a couple of sprigs of flat-leafed parsley from my herb garden. Feeling accomplished (and glad my neighbor is not out for his first smoke of the day because I’m still in my nightgown…) I rush back to the soup.

Everything else goes in the pot now. The diced green pepper (sautéd a little with the other veggies so they don’t feel singled out), then the stock (simmer), followed by the parsley, tomato, squash, the container of leftover squash (already nicely cooked) and the half jar of salsa. I looked at the brown rice and decided…just a little bit, about a quarter cup, because I didn’t want to over power the fresh veggies with a lot of heavy brown rice. We’ll see how that works.

Since I was using the salsa, I decided to give this soup a little Mexican bent and added a dash or two of hot sauce, some red pepper flakes, and about a tablespoon of packaged taco seasoning.

Now, bring to a boil again and then let simmer. Lid on, slightly cocked. And wait.

Yum.

So, from a few leftover veggies, some staples I always keep on hand in the pantry, and a some nice touches from my backyard patio garden, I’ve got soup. I’ll have a bowl for lunch, maybe dinner, and freeze the rest for a nice winter’s treat.

And I have to say, that ain’t half bad. Actually, it’s Half-Scratched!

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