Wednesday, March 01, 2006

dregs of the refrigerator

I got the idea for this post from The Accidental Scientist, who made a wonderful parmesan, broccoli and pine nut risotto from the dregs of the pantry in the last days before payday (see here). Coincidentally, I had done the same thing the night before. One of those what-shall-we-have-for-dinner nights, no desire to shop, and a disinclination for junk food (Taco Bell was mentioned and vetoed).
We decided soup was the thing, a mainly vegetable soup, with a chicken broth base. Here's what went into it, mostly without measurements--it was the kind of cooking where you put in a spoonful of this and a handful of that.

Clean Out the Refrigerator Soup
About 6 cups of chicken broth
1 parsnip
1 carrot
1/2 an onion
1/2 stalk celery
3 skinny stalks of fennel
1 sweet potato, peeled and diced
Remains of a head of romaine lettuce (perhaps 6 small leaves)
1/2 glass white wine (remains of the Gewurtztraminer)
A bit of zucchini relish
Last 2 spoons of a jar of almond butter
Remains of a jar of smoky chipotle salsa (perhaps 1/2 cup)
Spoonful of garlic-ginger paste
Spoonful of horseradish
Couple of shakes of ancho chile powder
Large pinch of curry powder (hot)
Handful of cilantro leaves

Believe it or not, this made a wonderful soup--mildly spicy, a little smoky in flavor, slightly crispy carrot bites along with tender sweet potato cubes. I didn't do any sauteing or anything special, just poured in the broth and then added the rest of the ingredients, beginning with the carrots through fennel, then a pause to allow them to soften, then the sweet potatoes, another pause, and then everything else, ending with the yogurt after I'd turned it off. The cilantro was added after dishing out, since I'm a cilantro love and D isn't.
This is why I love soup.


kitchen hand said...

Sounds great. I love coriander as well, which is what we call cilantro.

Cynthia & Dan said...

I love that kind of cooking too. Since I try to shop only once a week, I often find myself struggling with what to prepare - especially if I haven't created a menu for the week. When the will power is strong enough in preventing a mad dash to Burrito King, I will do something similar. Instead of soup, my dregs of the refriderator dish generally consists of cooked and raw items I can stuff into sad, old corn tortillas. Nonetheless, this is always one of my favorite meals - very satisfying.

Maureen McHugh said...

My mom used to call this "Icebox Soup" and I thought "Icebox Soup" and vegetable soup were the same thing until I was grown.

I have a couple of friends who play a game like this. The first time I heard about it, it was called "Sarajevo" but it can be named after any hotspot on the globe. When they decide they have collected too many weird items in cooking adventures, or when they are going to go away for a couple of weeks, they eat only off of what they've got. Sometimes they discover truly wonderful things. Sometimes they learn the limits of canned tuna.

I look at my pantry and think, hmm, instant expresso powder, five kinds of vinegar, black sesame soup,'d think there'd be something I could do with all this. Then I go to the store.