How to make ‘Pantry Soup’

the remnants of the fridge

Well, it’s mid-May and the weather gods have decided to pull another prank on us. The weather was beautiful and spring-like that I actually wore sandals and a t-shirt. Then quickly as it came, the sun left us and was replaced by rain. The produce in my garden is confused and I was irked. However, there was one bright spot to this whole thing- I could make soup. Brothy nourishing soup was made for days like these so I set about to make a pot of soup. Contrary to what Campbells and Progresso would have you believe, homemade soup is NOT time-consuming to make. It doesn’t even require stock or broth! I always believed it’s one of the easiest and cheapest meals to make and far healthier than those soups in a can. The ‘economical’ factor comes in to play when you look to the contents of your pantry, refrigerator and freezer and make a soup from that. Just remember that your soups should be tasty and not just a dumping ground for all leftovers. It shouldn’t be ‘garbage soup.’ Back to my story: we came back from a long weekend from the mountains visiting family and I needed to get back to the routine of preparing dinner. As usual, I had a glut of leftovers and after investigating and sniffing the odd containers, I came up with some nice ingredients- canned tomatoes, leftover steamed rice, sad and wilted celery, carrots and cabbage, some dried kidney beans and the coup-de-gras: a meaty ham bone from Easter. I simmered the ham bone to make a nice stock, cooked the beans. Then I set about to sweat the carrots, onions and celery. (Sweat is the fancy culinary term which means cooking something in a small amount of fat over low heat.) Then I added the chopped ham, the beans and the ham stock and simmered it until it was nearly done. I added the rice and the shredded cabbage, adjusted the seasonings and presto!, it was done. When I ladled it into bowls, I added a splash of extra-virgin olive oil on top to make it look fancy and to add that raw taste of olive oil to each spoonful. I served it and it was pronounced ‘delicious!’ by husband and baby-geek. So remember these things- homemade soup doesn’t require hours of cook time, fancy ingredients or even stock. (One of my first soups was onion soup and I remember Julia Child saying that salty water would be a fine substitute for stock.)Just use what you have on hand and remember to make it delicious and attractive.

'pantry' soup

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