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.
- 8 Stocks and Recipes to Make With Your Holiday Leftovers (artofmanliness.com)
- Making bone broth or stock from leftovers (modernhomesteaders.net)
- Leftover Turkey Soup (toasttonothing.com)
- The Best Turkey Soup Recipes To Make From Thanksgiving Leftovers (PHOTOS) (huffingtonpost.com)
On the twelfth day of Christmas
My true love gave to me:
Twelve Drummer Drumming…
January 5th is here and so this is the “Twelfth Day of Christmas.” In the Christian calendar this is listed as the traditional feast day for St. Julian the Hospitaller. In the UK it is the feast day of St. Edward the Confessor (also known as King Edward the Confessor). A more modern Saint honoured on this day is St. John Neumann. That is a lot of saintliness for one day!
You can read the Wikipedia entries I have linked above so I won’t spend too much time on the details of their lives of these Saints. St. Julian the Hospitaller, the patron saint of travelers, has an interesting myth associated with him where he is tricked into killing his parents. St. Edward, the patron saint of difficult marriages (yes before there was an App for there – that was a Saint for that…), was the only King of England to be canonized.
The modern saint of the day – St. John Neumann – was a Bishop of Philadelphia, living in a time when there was a rabid anti-catholic sentiment in the USA. Feelings were so strong that there were burnings of Catholic Churches, schools and seminaries. It is a fascinating parallel to the strong feelings currently sweeping through the USA – especially related to “non-Christians”. Politically this lead to the Know Nothing movement and included the 1852 American Party which reads like an ancestor of the Tea Party movement. Its main platform was opposition to all foreigners (especially non-Protestants), and its motto was “Americans must rule America.” The more things change the more they stay the same!
Now that has very little to do with Christmas as a celebration – but it sure is a fascinating glimpse into the evolution of US politics and world social movements.
In the secular traditions of Christmas this is Twelfth Day, and tonight then is Twelfth Night. Most of us know the the Twelfth Night as a play be Willaim Shakespeare. The title of Twelfth Night refers to the magic that flows into the world during Christmastide, as the old order of the world is over-turned by the coming of Christ. The play itself reflects the Carnivalesque atmosphere of Yuletide – where things are reversed and confused and involves cross-dressing, switching of roles (master becomes servant – servant is master). Christmastide reflects the essential fact that Christianity has rather rebellious roots at its foundation. A virgin has a child – and that child is the divine become human. The barrier between heaven and earth is breached and will never be the same.
Twelfth Night as the Eve of the Epiphany, and as a Christmas tradition, is a day of celebration and carousing. It is a festive occasion marked by merrymaking, feasting and drinking. The wassail punch of the song “Here We Come a Wassailing” is an important part of the English tradition for Twelfth Night. The carol itself has become associated with Christmas Eve, however more traditionally it was part of Twelfth Night celebrations. This is a night for singing, dancing, drinking and celebrating.
The modern Twelfth Night is now the traditional time for Christmas decorations to be removed and put away. Any edible decorations are distributed and eaten. My parents would have colorfully wrapped marzipan on our Christmas tree – and any we hadn’t already consumed would be eaten that night. My mother always pretended surprise at the many wrappers stuffed with tissue – the delightful marzipan somehow transmuted into paper.
In the Christian context, Twelfth Night is celebrating the Eve of the Epiphany. The Feast of the Epiphany on January 6th is the day the three wise men arrive and the “manifestation” of god as human within the infant Jesus. This is part of the “upside-down” nature of Christmastide. On Christmas eve, the birth of Jesus is revealed to the animals in the stable, and then announced to the ordinary people first – “shepherds watching their flocks by night.” The elite of the world must wait until later for the revelation of the manifestation of god. With the appearance of the three wise-men and their gifts worthy of a King bestowed the promise of Christmas is delivered into the world.
Since the actual day of the Epiphany is a joyous and solemn event – Twelfth Night is then a chance to revel in the unfettered merriment of Christmastide one last time. Perhaps having a hang-over makes for quiet worship the next day.
So on this Twelfth Night – eat, drink and be merry!
On the eleventh day of Christmas
My true love gave to me:
Eleven Pipers Piping…
January 4th is here and so this is the “Eleventh Day of Christmas.” In the Christian Christmas tradition this is the octave day for the feast of the Holy Innocents. The saint venerated today is St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, the first American saint.
In reading the Wikipedia entry on Elizabeth Ann Senton it seems she was a woman who encountered many difficulties and tragedies through her life, and through her faith she was able to overcome that adversity. She was born into a family of standing and so had access to an education, and to resources to assist her in her struggles. Still she could have simply withdrawn from the world and avoided the world – instead she used her standing, and resources to improve education. This is why she is considered the patron saint of Catholic Schools in the United States.
As the major feast is the last day of the octave for the Feast of Holy Innocents – it is strangely fitting that the Saint of the day be considered a guardian of schools. While much of the Christmas season is focused on joy and celebration, the secondary themes of tragedy and sorrow are also part of the Christmas tapestry. The Feast of the Holy Innocents is not a prominent part of our current cultural experience – yet with the horrible memory of the shooting at Sandy Hook and in Peshawar, Pakistan still fresh in our minds it now seems that this is part of the season we need to remember.
There is no standard music specific to this day, and the carols and hymns of the previous days are still part of the rituals of tradition. Since the Eleventh day of Christmas has Pipers Piping I think I will find a nice bit of pipe music.
According to the National Days listings for the US – today is National Spaghetti Day. A nice big bowl of pasta seems appropriate. I like mine with a meat sauce – and lots of fresh grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Mmmm.
Happy New Year – and Merry Eleventh day of Christmas!
And now I think I need a drink – so here is a drink for the eleventh day of Christmas involving scotch (in honour of pipers of course!). It is more complicated than I would might make – usually I just skip straight to the scotch.
On the tenth day of Christmas
My true love gave to me:
January 3rd is here and so this is the “Tenth Day of Christmas.” To tell the truth all this Christmas-ing and celebrating is making me wee bit tenth myself! All these birds and people bouncing about would make for once hectic household. In the tradition of the twelve days of Christmas this day – like yesterday – seems rather ambiguous. Perhaps a day for quiet reflection. In the official Christian feast days today is the Feast of St. Genevieve. Genevieve is the patron Saint and protector of Paris.
Apparently St. Genevieve lived in Paris in the during the 400’s when there was much turmoil across Europe. Much like today where hordes of bankers and money-lenders pillage the land. Back then it was Attila the Hun, and other wandering barbarians like the Visigoths. Huh – now that I think about it not much has really changed.
St. Genevieve apparently acted as what we would call today a “human rights worker” by making sure that food and aid went to those in desperate need of help. The directly Saintly part comes later after her death when she is credited (through prayer) with helping avert a medical disaster that was sweeping through Paris.
In the USA today is National Chocolate Covered Cherry Day. I had no idea we actually celebrated such rare and treasured parts of our North American culture. So raise a chocolate covered cherry and enjoy. These are deadly little confections of delight – so I would suggest controlling your access to these treats.
Given how the days seem to trail off into ambiguity and mostly “meh” I can see why we rarely celebrate all twelve days any more. It does get better so please do bear with me as we get through the final days of Christmas!
Here is hoping you enjoy the Tenth day of Christmas – with a cherry on top!
- Thursday (January 3): “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” (shechina.wordpress.com)
- On the Tenth Day of Christmas-Festival of Light (dickstersrandomthoughts.com)
- 12 Days of Christmas – Ten Lords a Leaping – Christmas Countdown Wedding Inspiration (ainsleysaffairs.wordpress.com)
- Ten Lords a’Leaping – a quiz. (wordwenches.typepad.com)
On the ninth day of Christmas
My true love gave to me:
nine ladies dancing…
January 2nd is here and so this is the “Ninth Day of Christmas.” One would think after all these festivities and frolics of the previous days, it would be difficult to find nine ladies dancing. On the other hand after all the food and drink of the the last few weeks – perhaps dancing is just what the personal trainer ordered!
The celebrations and significance of the first eight days of Christmas seems fairly clear. Probably because it is the eight days from Christmas to New Year’s day. January 2nd seems muddled in the meaning of the day. Perhaps that is because after all this celebrating a break is needed!
I find in several references that today is referred to as the Octave of St. Stephen. I had never heard of an Octave before in the spiritual sense – only in the musical sense! An Octave in the sense of the Christian Church is a period of eight days focused on the contemplation of a particular concept. The Octave of St. Stephen seems to be focused on the concept of sacrifice and devotion. As the Octave of St. Stephen is also overlayed with the Octave of the Christmas (which runs from Christmas Day to New Year’s Day) it seems the celebration of St. Stephen is subsumed by the larger events.
Today is also in the feast day of St. Basil the Great. St. Basil was an important scholar on early Church doctrines. Many of his writings shaped the thought of the early Church, and helped clarify many of the concepts central to Christianity. He is recognized as an important theologian by all branches of Christianity, and venerated by both the Orthodox and Catholic branches of Christianity.
St. Basil was born into wealth and privilege. Through that advantage of birth he was gifted with an extensive education in the knowledge of the world. He was apparently an observant and thoughtful man who applied his learning to morality and ethics. His many homilies on various topics touched on the importance of building community and helping others. His devotion to early Christianity caused him to give away his money to the poor, and to pursue learning and teaching as a way of life for the good of others. His example, and his biography, is perhaps one that should be given to our politicians to remind them of what it means to be “of service to others.”
Looking up foods for today I note that on the USA celebrations listing today is National Buffet Day. That makes perfect sense to me! All those leftovers who needs to cook? Haul out the leftovers and have a smorgasbord!
On the downside some cultures consider today the “unluckiest day of the year.” Mainly because all that good luck of the previous few weeks must be balanced out by fate! Of course that could just be the pessimists in the world looking for an excuse to party.
Hope you are having a Merry New Year on this the second day of the year – and the ninth day of Christmas.
- A Meditation on the Bloody Octave of Christmas (adw.org)
- On the Eighth Day of Christmas-Silent Night (dickstersrandomthoughts.com)
- The Ninth Day of Christmas Features a Lovely Champagne from Henriot (biggerthanyourhead.net)
- On the ninth day of Christmas Fitness… (revitalizefitness.co.uk)
- On the Ninth Day of Christmas Recipes: Christmas Menu Planning (brooklynlocavore.wordpress.com)