What’s in YOUR Pantry? March 11, 2010Posted by Toy Lady in Cooking, Food, random stuff, soupe du semaine.
We hear so much these days about “cooking from your pantry” and “shopping in your pantry” and “keeping a stocked pantry,” but what, exactly, constitutes a “pantry?”
Sure, when I lived on the farm that was an easy question – the pantry was that space right off the kitchen with the shelves in it – much larger than a closet, but nowhere near big enough to be considered a room unto itself. But now, unless you live in an old farmhouse, it may not be so simple to define.
(I don’t live in an old farmhouse.)
And besides, in this day and age, I tend to think of the “pantry” more as a state of mind than an actual physical space.
While I don’t have actual PANTRY space, I do have kitchen cupboards. And shelving in the basement. And the freezer(s). And honestly, sometimes things just get away from us. Stuff gets shoved to the back of the cupboard, shifted to the bottom shelf, or buried in the freezer.
Hey, it happens in the best of families. (Or so I’ve been told.)
I’m almost embarrassed to admit that we found a hunk of beef that we’d bought to make sauce, um, let’s just say we bought it a while ago.
But it had been vacuum sealed, and you know those ads about how much longer your meat will last when you vacuum seal it?
They’re all true. This stuff was in the freezer almost five years – and there wasn’t a hint of freezer burn or loss of flavor.
However. It may have been the oldest thing we’ve found in the freezer (so far), so it had to go.
In addition to a few shallots and a leek or two, we had, of course, carrots in the fridge, and I’d recently picked up some parsnips, so what better time to work on my knife skills than now?
Once the beef was well-browned (with the shallots and leeks), I first deglazed with a bit of red wine (what kind of pantry would I be keeping if I didn’t have wine?), then once that liquid had cooked off, I tossed the carrots and parsnips into the pot and let them just soak up the beefy-winy goodness for a few, until most of the liquid had evaporated.
But fear not!
There was more liquid to come! I added a pint of (my very own) canned tomatoes, along with what was left of the beef stock that we’d canned that weekend – it doesn’t always come out even, you know, no matter how hard you try.
So call it a cup and a half of beef stock.
Plus, I added my secret ingredient (which I just made up) – about a cup of our very own V-14 juice.
I’m pretty sure I wrote down, somewhere, what vegetables we used in this juice, but I don’t remember where. I’m sure you could use V-8 and be just fine.
I do know that one of the vegetables in my juice was jalapeño peppers – and I’m reasonably certain that’s not one of the veggies in the commercial stuff. I’m just saying.
In addition to the tomatoes and the juice, we (of course) (yeah right) remembered to add a healthy scoop of my veggie bouillon, along with the tiniest head of cabbage ever, and a can of “small red beans,” drained.
And no, I’m not sure how small red beans are different than kidney beans, only they’re, well, smaller.
And really, that was pretty much it. I don’t have an actual recipe for this soup – it was mainly just tossed together from stuff lying around in the pantry, then left in the fridge for a few days to build its flavor – it was a great soup! Full of great beef and vegetable flavor, hearty and filling – and healthy besides – how can you go wrong? Add to that the fact that the soup was built entirely from ingredients on hand – or that should be on hand – and it’s a sure winner.