The Feast of Leftovers is back! A few years back I wrote about making soup with my leftover Prime Rib dinner. and well I have never had so many Google hits on my site on one day. The search terms: Prime Rib leftovers
While my annual Prime Rib problem has been solved, after any holiday feast my fridge requires some serious attention. Earlier in October it was Canadian Thanksgiving day – and since my daughter is now a vegetarian there were fewer meat options and many more vegetable options. And still way too much food!
To create any soup from leftovers, I make things up as I go along! Soup from leftovers is improvisational cooking and experimentation. This is about making something new from a pile of random items in my fridge and creating a whole new flavour experience. The beauty of soup is it takes time to simmer – and you can do other things.
(I have a very non-vegan Sour Cream Biscuit recipe here if you want something to go with the soup. Easy to make while the stock is simmering!)
Step One: Getting a Base
Soup is liquid and so it is mostly water. You need a few strong flavours things to make your tongue happy! Now in this case I did get to cheat slightly – I had bought some vegetable broth to add to the mashed sweet potatoes I had made for Thanksgiving. So into the pot goes the broth (one opened and one unopened). With the broth goes a medium onion (whole), a few sprigs of fresh parsley, a piece of ginger about the size of my thumb, and some peppercorns in a tea ball so I can fish them out later! And then I explore the fridge. What do we find? A half-can of garlic minced tomatoes. A cup of pureed pumpkin. Some crushed garlic I had saved from something else! All into the stock pot. Oh a half-head of cauliflower – it gets chopped and into the pot! Two sad apples that are on their way to be being dried apple heads. They get peeled, cored and cut and half.
Again, make sure you have enough liquid to cover the contents of the pot. Set on stove-top and bring to full boil, turn down and let simmer for about 2-3 hours. Or even longer! Remember when making soup we want to extract the flavour. Letting the stock slowly simmer will intensify the flavours – just don’t let your stock boil away!
And as I have noted before a large slow-cooker is perfect for this first step in the process. If you use a slow cooker set on HIGH until hot (1-2 hours) and then LOW for 4-6 or more hours. Go skiing and sledding. Or sit back and catch up on Netflix while drinking wine. You may need extra bottles of wine.
Before you walk away you will have to hang around and skim! During the early boiling process a thick foam will appear. Skim this off as best you can to keep the soup stock clear.
While your stock is slow simmering you can prepare any additional vegetables you want to add to the final soup. I explored and found a pepper squash, sweet potatoes and carrots. All needed to cook – and pepper squash is best oven roasted. So I prepped the squash by splitting and scooping out the seeds then seasoning with olive oil and a spicy seasoned salt I have to give it some zip.
I then peeled the sweet potatoes and the carrots for about three cups of chopped vegetables. These also are seasoned with olive oil and the spicy seasoned salt. All into a roasting pan and roasted in the oven at 350 F for 1 hour to make sure it is all nice and soft.
When you think the stock is done, I take it off the heat and let it sit 15 minutes to cool and settle. Once the stock has settled you can skim off some anything I don’t like – and then pick out what I don’t want left in the soup (whole onion, ginger root, peppercorns in tea ball)
Step 2: Season the Stock
Take a new pot and place a fine sieve over the new pot, then gently and slowly pour your stock into the new pot. Sometimes when making soup from random ingredients The last little bit in the pot may be quite thick with sediment so you may decide to not use that part of the stock. In this case I had added the diced tomatoes and while I wanted the flavour in the broth, I didn’t want the tomatoes in my next step!
Now for the taste test! Get a small spoon and sample the stock. What does it need? Salt? Spices? More flavour? Does it need a little more water? Or maybe some pre-made stock to add both volume and flavour. This is the part where you use the magic of your senses to make the soup your own! While tasting is an important part of making soup do remember to use a new and clean spoon for each taste test! I added some curry for a bit more zesty zing!
Always add any other seasoning or flavouring before adding more salt. If you feel you need more salt add it slowly! Once something is too salty there is no saving it. It is better to let people add their own salt to the finished product.
Step 3: Add our roasted vegetables
Once you have adjusted the seasoning (and the volume of liquid) – we will add the oven roasted vegetables to the prepared stock.
I scooped out the pepper squash, and squished the sweet potatoes and carrots with a fork. I even added back the cauliflower and apple halves that cooked with the broth.
Place the soup on the stove and bring to boil. Turn down to a simmer and let cook for 15 minutes or so to allow the vegetables and broth to marry. Once they have consummated their new relationship we get out the hand blender!
Step 4: Finish the soup and eat!
Let the soup cool and then blend until smooth! Optional: Add some creamy coconut milk to add some smooth happiness for your tongue!
Remember this is not an exact recipe so you can experiment and find what works best for you.
Basic Random Ingredient Summary
In Stock Pot (I was emptying my fridge so I just grabbed what I had before it went bad!)
2 litres of vegetable broth
1 medium onion (left whole)
2 cups cauliflower
1 cup pumpkin puree (plain)
1 cup pureed whole tomato (canned or fresh)
1 cup carrots (I had shredded carrots I needed to get use up)
2 apples (peeled/cored and cut in half)
1 peeled chunk of ginger (I used a piece the size of my thumb)
handful of parsley sprigs
couple of garlic cloves
tea ball with black peppercorns (and other spices) (tea ball makes removing spice bits easier!)
Add more water if needed to cover vegetables
Optional: Salt to taste if you are using “no salt-added broth”.
Dump everything into your stock pot and bring to boil, skim off any foam. Place on simmer and let slowly simmer for 1 to 2 hours. Key word is slow. Option: use a slow cooker if you have a large one and leave it for 6-8 hours on low. The idea is to simmer out the flavours in a long slow boil. These vegetables will be removed and composted after we make the stock!
Oven Roasted Vegetables for Soup
I had a pepper squash that I needed to use – and I like the oven roasted flavour.
1 medium pepper squash (or your favourite squash!)
2-3 medium sweet potatoes
1 large carrot
1 medium parsnip root
Pre-heat oven to 350 Fahrenheit.
Cut pepper squash in half and remove seeds. Brush halves with olive oil and season as desired (I use a spicy seasoned salt and black pepper)
Peel and chop the root vegetables (sweet potato/carrot/parsnip) into chunks. Don’t worry about size as the intent is to puree the vegetables with the stock we are making. Place the root vegetable bowl and toss with olive oil and some seasoning (I used curry/salt/pinch of nutmeg).
In a large enough roasting pan place the pepper squash cut side up, and spread the root vegetables around evenly. Place in oven and let cook about 60 minutes. The squash may take longer. You want the vegetables soft with a bit of browning (caramelization) to capture a lovely autumn roasted vegetable essence.
When finished roasting, remove from oven. Let cool slightly, then scoop the squash and squish the root vegetables with a fork. Don’t worry if it is chunky – we’ll fix that shortly!
Putting it all Together
After the stock is ready let it sit to cool for 20 minutes or so. We only want the liquid, so take a soup pot and using a fine sieve, pour the stock into the soup pot. The sieve will remove the chunks. I choose to take out some of the cooked cauliflower and some of the apple to add to the final soup.
Taste the stock in the soup pot and add salt/spices as desired. I wanted a bit more bite so added a teaspoon of Jamaican Curry. Now add the over roasted vegetables (and any vegetables you want to re-use from the stock pot) to the soup pot. Bring to a boil. Let simmer for 20 minutes to allow the flavours to marry.
Optional: I added 1/4 of orange lentils to the soup to add some protein. Orange lentils take about 20 minutes to cook.
After 20 minutes remove soup from heat and set aside for 20 minutes so we can safely puree the soup! You can use a standard blender if you wish, I have a super-duper immersion (hand) blender that I can stick and the pot and complete the consummation of the soup!
Blend until smooth.
Optional: Add some coconut milk (about 1 cup) with at least a medium fat content to add a creamy mouth feel to your soup.