Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Works For Me Wednesday

This is going to be my first posting to Works For Me Wednesday now hosted over at We are THAT Family .

Making homemade soup from leftovers, this Works For Me.

Shortly after my eldest daughter moved away from home, she brought it to my attention that she didn’t know much beyond the very basics of cooking. She is an excellent baker, but the day to day cooking wasn’t something she was used to.

I felt like I had failed her, my Mama taught me so much, including cooking. I was upset with myself for not properly preparing her for life away from home.

After giving it much thought, I realized that I could cut myself a little slack. You see, both my daughters started playing highly competitive tournament softball early in middle school. As athlete scholars with very good grades, they were either in class, at practice, doing homework or asleep. Our weekends March through August, were dedicated to traveling to and from softball tournaments. After high school, they went to work fulltime during the day, and attended our local college at night. Not much free time in there to spend on domestic duties. I felt they would have the rest of their lives for domestic chores, but they were only student athletes for a short time in their lives.

One of the first things DaughterS remarked about not knowing how to make was homemade soup. As a staple meal in our family, I was surprised that although I’m sure she watched me make it a million times, she didn’t know where to start.The first step in making delicious homemade soup is also the same rule as living frugally, something we did, living on one income for 13 years, so I could be a stay-at-home-mom.

Step #1: Waste Not Want Not. Don’t waste food. Save everything for soup.Pan drippings? Scrap out of the pan and cool in the fridge, de-fat and into the stock pot in the freezer. There’s a lot of flavor in that lone tablespoon of pan drippings, well worth the effort. Left over gravy? Mashed potatoes? Last bite of macaroni and cheese no one has room for? Last few teaspoons of corn? A leftover burger patty no one wants? One last half slice of meatloaf? Crumble ‘em up and add to the stock pot in freezer! Even spaghetti sauce.

In my freezer you’ll find square plastic freezer containers, one for beef and one for poultry. I feed them generously, it’s guilt free. Why put leftovers into the fridge and let them grow fur before throwing them out, when they can go straight into the stock pot and nourish the family once again?

Step #2: Make homemade stock, it is very inexpensive to make, using the parts of the chicken we don’t normally serve. To make chicken stock for use in soups, I boil the bones and skin from the rotissaire chickens, throw in the necks, backs, wings and giblets from the whole fryers I cut up. Add whatever fresh veggies I have on hand, carrots, celery, onions-including the yellow papery skins, which will give the stock a lovely golden hue, butt ends snapped off of asparagus, woody parts of broccoli. I’ve taken to saving and freezing in a gallon ziplock baggie all the parings from fresh vegetables, such as carrot tops, onion trimmings, rind from winter squash that I’ve cut up raw for roasting, apple cores, skins from sweet potatoes, everything I can think of, till I’m ready to make a batch of veggie stock. Cover completely with water and boil down or use a pressure cooker to shorten the time it takes till the veggies are limp and the bones falling apart. Strain and then I freeze in 1 quart containers for later use.

Not sure a potpourri of leftovers will taste good together? Amazingly the flavors all blend together wonderfully, I may season with Lawry’s Seasoning Salt, or Spike Seasoning, add dried sweet basil, or an Italian herb blend or Lemon Herb Seasoning. Sometimes I’ll add a can of tomato sauce or I have even used ketchup in a pinch.
Which reminds me, when you cannot get another drop of ketchup out of the bottle, add a little water and shake, drain into stock pot.
For the stronger flavor of beef stock, I’ll add a couple of dashes of Whorchestershire Sauce. A1 Steak Sauce adds a very hearty, tangy flavor.

If I brown some hamburger, I drain the meat by propping one side of the pan on a small ramikin dish, when the meat drains, I siphon off all the juice with a turkey baster, let cool to seperate the fat and into the beef stockpot in the freezer it goes!
When short on leftover veggies, I’ll sometimes add canned veggies, without draining. Except for beans, I always rinse canned beans in a strainer before adding to the soup.

I will usually add some starch or carbohydrates to the mix, too, in the form of rice or pasta of some shape. To thicken to a more stew like consistency, add instant mashed potatoes. You can also add a can of condensed milk to make a ‘cream soup’.

Think of this as a primer, take it and run with it, make it your own.

Homemade soup from leftovers, without a recipe. It Works For Me!


  1. Awesome ideas! We always end up wasting veggies! Now I know what to do with them!!
    We miss you guys soo much!

  2. Great ideas. I've never used veggie peelings. I've been concerned about whether they are "bad".
    Please drop by and say hello!
    ஐღLaura ღஐ
    Harvest Lane Cottage
    ...doing what I can with what I've got where I am
    on a short shoestring budget!