I know it sounds odd, but it’s what I call it. Leftovers Soup is a yummy and easy way to use up those leftovers so they don’t go bad nor go to waste. This particular soup used up the turkey leg meat from a previously roasted turkey; Turkey stock, made from the bones of previously mentioned turkey; and a half of a Costco container of leftover baby spinach.
I also added onions, celery, carrots (which I always have on hand), a package of mushrooms (which were on sale at the grocery, I can always find a use for reduced price veggies!), and precooked white beans pulled from my freezer.
(When you have time cook up beans and portion the beans in 2cup measurements into quart ziploc bags and freeze. This way you can have the convenience of ‘ready to use’ beans at a far cheaper cost than canned)
For spices I used Alleppo pepper for a bit of spice (you can use red pepper flake), 2 packages of Goya ‘Sazon‘ (it gives the soup that lovely red color and adds a distinct puerto rican flavor-buy it and keep it on hand!), a good heavy handed shake of Penzeys ‘Mural of Flavor‘ and a bit of salt & pepper to taste.
I garnished with this soup with parmesan cheese. (Which I buy at the big box retailer and keep in the freezer. I then portion some in a small container to be kept in the fridge)
With leftover soup try to think of combinations that go well together. For example, turkey and mushrooms are a natural pairing. I have a book ‘The Flavor Bible‘ that helps me with ideal food combinations and pairings.
Layer flavor by browning or sweating your vegetables. Add chili pepper flakes to the oil while sauteeing to ‘bloom’ the flavor and temper the heat. Add durable spices (like bay leaf) to the liquid in the beginning of simmering, and add fresh (cilantro/parsley) or delicate spices (tarragon/marjoram) near the end or as a garnish. Add dark meats early to eek the flavor out of them, delicate/white flesh meats near the end. Frozen peas or corn are added at the end also, so they don’t overcook and get mushy.
If using raw lentils, add at the beginning, they take some time to cook. Cooked beans, however, add and simmer just long enough to heat through, otherwise they tend to break apart.
For more of a chowder style soup that is gluten free, make a “slurry” – cornstarch mixed with cold water/stock/milk – and add, cooking to thicken. You may also use arrowroot, but only for dairy free soups. Arrowroot + dairy = slime. Use about 1 tbsp of starch for every 1.5-2 cups of liquid.
Tomato paste really deepens in flavor if cooked with the veggies in the beginning with the oil. Add when the veggies are soft, just before you add the stock, cooking it a bit to take the rawness off. It adds a complex depth and dimension and a bit of thickness to the soup.
Save those meat bones! If you don’t have time to make a simple stock from your chicken or turkey dinner, put them in a ziploc freezer bag and freeze them until you do have time. No need for defrosting, just plop them in with carrots, celery and onions, and simmer and let reduce. The stock can then be used or frozen for future use. As my grandmother taught me: waste not, want not. Use your homemade stocks as one of the layers of flavor foundation for your soup.
Depending upon my mood, what is in the fridge and what I have on hand, I save myself money, prevent food waste and feed my family food that I know is healthy and good for them.
As a side benefit, I always have a little leftover for hubby to take to work for lunch the next day, or an afternoon snack for a hungry child going returning from school and headed out to their athletic activities.
I hope this inspires you to look at those leftovers in a new fresh way: Transform turkey, mashed potatoes, and corn in to a chowder. Cubed leftover meatloaf can be the beginnings of a riff on Italian Wedding soup. Left over beets can be morphed in to a kicked up Borscht topped with healthy greek yogurt garnish. Leftover lamb makes a fantastic ‘curry’ with chickpeas and canned tomatoes.
The possibilities are endless!