Leftovers? Make Soup! December 30, 2010Posted by Toy Lady in Cooking, Eating Down the Fridge, random stuff, soupe du semaine.
That’s kind of always been, I don’t know, a tradition, right?
I’ve heard of people who keep a bowl or bucket in the freezer to just dump all the leftover meats and veggies into, along with any random bits of potato or rice, then, once the bucket’s full, they dump it into a pot with some liquid and make a pot of soup.
We tried that for a while – or something like that, anyway. One summer, whenever we had grilled meat (or vegetables) leftover, we’d dice them up and shove them in a quart container in the freezer.
Unfortunately, it didn’t quite work out the way we intended – when we grill meats in the summer, it’s often marinated, and, really who wants to make soup in the dead of summer anyway? So what happened was we ended up with several containers of random diced meats (and vegetables) that we’d dump into a stockpot in late fall-early winter, with maybe some chicken stock and a quart of tomatoes, add some rice, and call it soup.
Yeah, that didn’t work out so well. The soup was, at best, meh. Now granted, this was a few years ago. But still, it’s been a while since we’ve been terribly interested in re-purposing leftovers. After all, they make perfectly fine lunches, right?
Well, a while ago, I picked up several butternut squashes at the market, and, really, much as we love butternut, two people can only eat just so much squash before it starts to get, well, let’s say we had one that was a little worse for wear and needed to be used sooner rather than later. So we roasted up the the whole thing, and we wound up with a bunch left over.
Since we’re still on our “clean out the freezer” kick, I did some thinking about how I could recycle the leftover squash, using stuff we had on hand, into a new and exciting meal.
And I just couldn’t get soup out of my mind. And we like butternut squash soup – very much – but that wasn’t going to get anything out of the freezer. So I decided to improvise.
I pulled a package (maybe half a pound) of breakfast sausage out of the freezer – about 3 links, and sliced the sausage, removing the casings first. Then we browned the sausage coins in a Dutch oven, then removed it from the pan and set it aside.
Then, right in the same pan, I browned a couple of minced shallots – after all, I don’t think you can have soup without something from the onion family, can you? (If I hadn’t had a couple of shallots knocking around, I’d have gone with a single clove of garlic or a small onion.)
Just saute that until it’s softened and slightly browned.
Now for the cool part.
Add a teaspoon or so of pumpkin pie spice (or a combination of 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. ground ginger, and 1/8 tsp. each ground nutmeg and ground allspice.
Pumpkin pie spice is just easier, somehow.
Along with that, I added about 1/8 tsp. of cayenne pepper.
Then just add your leftover squash (this was probably 3 or 4 cups of diced, cooked squash) and a quart and a half or so of chicken stock. Stir that up (get the browned bits off the bottom of the pan) and let it cook until the squash is heated through. It won’t take long – the squash is already cooked, but it’ll mash easier if it’s hot.
Use either a masher or a blender or, our personal favorite, a stick blender, and mash the squash mixture until it’s smooth – or as smooth as you’d like it.
And now it’s just a simple matter of adding the sausage back to the soup. We also included a couple of cups of cooked white beans – certainly not more than a single can’s worth, if you want to use canned.
Beans are good for you.
And tasty too.
We stirred everything together, let it cool, and shoved it in the fridge until Soup Night, when it got reheated for dinner.
Soup is almost always better reheated, you know. Something about that time in the fridge just enhances the flavors – they have a chance to mellow a bit, and sort of meld together into a harmonious whole.
Which is exactly what happened here – the sweetness of the squash, the warm-sweetness of the pumpkin pie spice, the savoriness of the breakfast sausage, all highlighted by the hint of cayenne, and all absorbed ever-so-much by the beans – it was enough to convince me to start making leftover soup again!