Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Month of Soups: Garbage Soup

Those dribs and drabs, the bits and pieces, the orts and detritus in your refrigerator and freezer are going to find a home today. Garbage Soup. The dinner of savers. This soup is your reward for not throwing out anything.

Friends and family have suggested other names: Mélange Soup; Medley Soup; Hodgepodge Soup; Mishmash Soup; even Potpourri Soup. But all of those just class it up. The fact is, this isn’t a classy soup. This is the real soup of the people.

Given that background, it won’t surprise you that there is no definitive recipe. How do I know what you have tucked away in the back of your refrigerator? I barely know what’s in mine! Word of warning: any food you find in there that’s wearing a little sweater, out it goes. We do not consider mold one of the food groups for purposes of this recipe.

There is no easier soup and the feel-good result of having a refrigerator where you can find stuff is priceless. So here are some proportions to keep in mind when making this soup. Then go to it!

The good news is this is an unreplicable soup so you will be serving your family a unique dinner they’ll never have again. The bad news is this is an unreplicable soup so if they like it, too bad, they’ll never have it again!

Garbage Soup (serves 6 maybe--could be more or less depending on leftovers)

1 medium onion, diced

3 cloves of garlic, sliced

1T olive oil

~6 c broth (leftover on, from the freezer, or on your pantry shelf) Okay to mix broths so chicken, beef, turkey, vegetable--whatever combo you have

1 T herbs (I surf my spice rack--haven’t used that “Herbs from Provence with lavender” in a while? Is the basil almost gone? Wonder what curry and tarragon will do together? Cinnamon sticks or whole cloves always add an unexpected layer of flavor. Go crazy. Why not? Expectations are low for this soup, but you have the opportunity to create something unique and tasty.)

~2 c assorted veggies (maybe that little cup of corn, spinach that is on its last legs, six green beans?--clean out the refrigerator). If you don’t have two cups in the refrigerator, check the freezer. 8 french fries? Why not? Refried beans left? Sure, dump ‘em in. You find 3 cups of leftover veggies? Use them. It just makes a chunkier soup.

~2 c cooked meats (again, an assortment or single source is fine; I’ve used pork chops and hamburger together. The only thing I don’t do is mix fish with meats. I keep fish bits together in their own Garbage Soup.)

Sauté the onion in olive oil over medium heat in a large pan or Dutch oven. When translucent, add garlic and stir around for about a minute. Add broth and spices. Blend well. Add whatever veggies and meats you have accumulated. Heat to a slow simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes then serve.

To class this up have an excellent bread, great cheeses, and fruit slices to serve alongside. It will then appear to be more than what it is! Garbage Soup. Prepare for a call from the school when your child shares what dinner was the night before.

DH’s Rating: 3.7 Tongues Up. He liked this particular soup (pork tenderloin and sirloin with squash, black beans, corn, and peas), but it wasn’t his favorite of those we’ve had over the years. And he hates when he likes it a lot because he knows he’ll never have it again!

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