December 3, 2009

leftover soup


This time of year, the leftovers abound. Around the holidays, I tend to stuff myself silly, but the overabundance is so great that even with overeaters everywhere, lots of food still gets thrown away. My partner and I are trying to get smarter about our budget these days - particularly our food budget - which has meant getting smarter about leftovers, and hopefully a little less waste.

Last week was Thanksgiving, and I decided to take responsibility for the leftovers this year, since I wasn't cooking much. By the time we left on Saturday there was a freezer full of turkey stock and big containers of turkey noodle soup for everyone to take home.

Being a vegetarian, I don't know much about what to do with meat, but I do know that you're not supposed to throw away that big old fatty, meaty turkey carcass after the meal. What a waste! Instead, we made turkey stock.

I had my partner's father pick off all the good-looking meat, and then I stuck the detritus (skin, bones, fatty stuff, neck and jiblets) into a huge big stock pot with a cut-up onion and a few bay leaves, and then filled up the pot with water. I brought the pot to a boil and then simmered the whole thing for the rest of the evening, about 3 hours. Then we pulled out the now-clean bones and all the other solid stuff and tossed it, let the stock cool, skimmed off the fat and then strained out everything else and put the stock into repurposed quart yogurt containers in the freezer. Turkey stock is a good replacement for chicken stock (except richer and tastier, I'm told), and will keep in the freezer for at least six months.

That's how we used about half the stock. The other half we used to make turkey-noodle soup. All we did was par-boil a bag of whole wheat egg noodles, drain them and then put them into the big soup pot with the turkey stock. Since this family likes to eat turkey sandwiches with the leftovers, I left the big slices of breast meat for that purpose, but took all the little funny bits, cut them up smaller, and threw them into the pot. Finally, we dumped in the leftover peas and carrots from the Thanksgiving meal and added some salt and pepper - voila! Turkey-noodle soup.

As I've said, I'm a vegetarian, so the soup was not really on my menu. But I did have a tiny cupful just to try, and now I see why they say that chicken noodle soup cures a cold. I think that soup could have cured much worse - it was about as warm, wholesome and comforting as anything I've ever eaten. Maybe next year I'll have two cupfuls.

There are also lots of opportunities for vegetarian soup from your holiday leftovers. You can make a big pot of veggie stock and then make delicious soup with pureed pumpkin, squash or carrot, or toss in lots of noodles, beans and leftover veggies for a scrumptious vegetable soup with dumplings on top. Just the thing for a simple supper when you've been overdoing it at the holiday parties.


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