by Jolene Lamb, coordinator, LLCC Culinary Institute
Soups are so versatile; you can transform and reuse leftovers and random ingredients you have laying around into soups. I often have a couple of leftover potatoes, some random scrap ends of assorted cheeses, a couple slices of ham, a cup of sour cream just hanging out in my refrigerator. Using up those ingredients is easy when you transform them into soups. Most of the time I can take canned or frozen vegetables along with pantry staples such as beans, pasta or rice and create soup to not only enjoy immediately but freeze and have leftovers for later.
You really don’t need an exact recipe to make a soup; instead, you can focus on the type of soup and its base then build from there. There are two basic kinds of soup—clear and thick. Clear soups include flavored stocks and broths such as chicken noodle soup and French onion soup. Thick soups include cream and purée soups, such as bisques or potato soup.
Stock or broth is the basic ingredient in clear soups. Occasionally I make my own stock, but let us be realistic, there’s not a lot of time for that. So most often I keep a vegetable, chicken and beef base on hand. Better Than Bouillon is a brand that is easy to find in most grocery stores. It is a concentrated stock that has been reduced to a paste. Just add 1-2 tablespoons to a quart of hot water to make stock. I find it more flavorful and less salty than broth.
Cream soups are made with a thickener, such as roux or thickened with the starch found in the puréed main ingredient (such as potatoes). Let the ingredients you have on hand determine which type of soup would suit them best and then start a base from there. For example, have some leftover potatoes, some ham and sharp cheeses? Make a cream soup using the potatoes as a thickener. Small dice or puree the potatoes, heat some milk or cream and add the potatoes. Mix in the leftover ham and cheeses then add some sour cream and chives and you now have a loaded baked potato soup.
Or if you are looking to use up leftover chicken, beef or pork, along with fresh, frozen or canned vegetables, make a clear soup with stock and add in tortellini, rice, beans or noodles. It’s really that easy. You can use whatever herbs and spices you like to really punch in the flavor. For example, start with beef stock and tomato juice, paste or crushed tomato and add to it already cooked ground beef. You can add in any vegetables: corn, green beans, peas, zucchini, carrots, even cabbage, anything goes. Throw in some pasta, any type will work, add some seasoning. Italian seasoning, taco seasoning, or even a little Worcestershire and salt and pepper blend will do. Cook until pasta is done and enjoy.
If you prefer a recipe, here is one that can be used to get you started making soups with leftover random ingredients.
Hodge Podge Soup
Yield 2 quarts
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and sliced
4 cups stock
1 cup vegetable puree such as canned pumpkin puree, or puree leftover root vegetables such as squash. Or you can use canned tomato sauce
1 can corn or hominy, or 1 cup frozen corn
1 to 2 cups cooked meat (chicken, beef, pork, whatever you have)
1 cup cooked beans, rice, quinoa or pasta
1/2 cup chopped bell pepper or canned or frozen peas, okra or lima beans
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning mix, taco seasoning, or your favorite spices
salt and pepper to taste
In a large stockpot, heat the oil. Add the onion and cook, stirring, on medium-low for 5 minutes. Add the potatoes and carrots and stir. Continue cooking for another 5 minutes. Stir in the broth and puree. Add the corn, tomatoes, meat, beans, peppers and seasonings. Stir well and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Adjust seasonings.
Want to learn more about making soup? Register now for our Souper Bowl online culinary class starting Feb. 1. Chef Kim Carter will show you step by step how to make Zuppa Toscana and Parlor Chili. Our online video classes come with step-by-step recipes and week-long access to a pre-recorded video of the chef preparing the dishes. You can stop, rewind and watch at your leisure and even cook along with the chef. Visit our website at www.llcc.edu/culinary-institute to view all of our online classes and registration information.
Lincoln Land Community College offers credit programs in Culinary Arts, Hospitality Management, Baking/Pastry and Value Added Local Food, and non-credit cooking and food classes through our Community Learning Culinary Institute. For more information, visit our website at www.llcc.edu.
Cooking or food questions? Email email@example.com.