the auspicious squirrel and the experimental soup…

experimental soup

Keep Track of Produce and Waste Less

Yesterday was Produce Wednesday, so today I went through my fridge to make sure I was using up everything in the ‘right’ order. I’m kind of anal-retentive when it comes to dating my produce. When I bring home produce, I write on my calendar when I believe it needs to be eaten/used by. My calendar is on the refrigerator and is a month at a glance.

  • For example, say I bought zucchini today…
    zucchini needs to be eaten in five days…
    Today is June 18, I count five days from now (June 23) and write:
    “5 days – zucchini” on June 23.
    That way when June 23 rolls around, I know that I should have eaten or be eating that zucchini today and that it is 5 days old. When I have eaten an item (or deemed it to be discarded), I cross it off the calendar. Over time, I can see that certain things need to be eaten soon and can plan my meal around those items.

My dates came mostly from a website that I found back in 2005, and some just from experience…

So here’s what I had on hand that I felt needed to be used *now*.

    ginger – about 1 inch
    lemon – 1/2
    broccoli – 1 cup (which was already steamed)
    celery – 3 middle stalks w/ greens
    parsley – 1 handful
    plums – 4
    kale – 2 handfuls
    carrots – 2
    grapes – bowlful
    scallions – 6

I also have in the pantry –

    all kinds of spices
    better than bouillon vegetable base (actually in the fridge)
    various cans of beans
    various cans of tomatoes (crushed, diced, whole, sauce, paste)
    red potatoes – 5
    yellow onion – 1
    garlic – 2 1/2 heads

And of course all the new produce that I received yesterday

I like soup, it is very forgiving and you can really experiment here. So I looked into a cookbook specifically on soups for inspiration, Vegetable Soups From Deborah Madison’s Kitchen. I had kale, (or so I thought, I later decided that it was too light green to pass my quality inspection) and set out looking at the recipes that had kale in them. I decided to check out two: White Bean Broth with Greens and A Spring Tonic.

While making my soup I was also roasting garlic and making a cup of mashed potatoes for Roasted Garlic and Potato Bread dough.

Here’s what I did…
Experimental Soup
by the auspicious squirrel

    2 cups water – have close to stove
    2 Tbsp. olive oil
    5 red potatoes, chopped into small dice
    1 onion, yellow, chopped
    3 garlic cloves, minced
    3 ribs celery with leaves, chopped
    2 carrots, peeled & chopped into small dice
    6 scallions, sliced
    1 handful parsley, finely chopped
    3/4 tsp. dried thyme leaves
    3/4 tsp. dried ground sage
    sea salt
    freshly ground pepper
    1/4 tsp. ground cloves
    8 cups water
    3 cans white beans (2-navy, 1-cannellini), drained and rinsed
    3 beets with leaves, beets peeled under water and then chopped into small dice, leaves cut using the technique chiffonade
    2 Tbsp. tomato paste
    1 can diced tomatoes with Italian herbs
  • Chop potatoes. Heat a dutch oven or deep-sided non-stick pot on med-high heat. Add olive oil and potatoes, stir. Have 2 cups of water near by. While the potatoes are starting to brown chop up the onion. Add the onion and about a tablespoon of water, just enough to loosen the potatoes from the bottom of the pot, stir. Chop the garlic. Again, add about a tablespoon of water with the garlic to loosen the food and prevent burning, stir. Chop the celery, then add with a bit a water, stir. Peel and chop the carrots, then add with a bit of water, stir. Chop the scallions, then add with a bit a water, stir. Chop the parsley, then add with a bit a water, stir. (That was about 2 cups of water used.)
  • Now add thyme, sage, salt, pepper, and cloves, stir to combine. Add water and beans. Bring mixture to a simmer and reduce heat to low. Add vegetable base, stir. Cover, simmer 10-15 minutes.
  • {About now I went ahead and mixed up my bread dough, it takes about 5 minutes to mix. It needs to rise for 2 hours.}
  • Next, I realized that the kale was sub par, and decided to use beets and their leaves instead. First, I rinsed the leaves and then in batches rolled them up and thinly sliced them using the chiffonade method, also I chopped all the way into the stems, kind of like tiny red celery. Add to soup, stir. Then, I peeled the beets under water and discarded the top bit where the beet meets the stems, then chopped into small dice. Add to soup stir. Cover, simmer about 30 minutes.
  • Taste for salt and spices, alter as needed. Add tomato paste and can of tomatoes, stir. Cover, simmer about 2 hours, check every 30 minutes or so for vegetable tenderness. Serve when you have the texture you desire. Serve with fresh baked bread. Enjoy.

experimental souproasted garlic & potato breadroasted garlic & potato bread
Verdict:
Soup – Good, slightly beet-y, grows on you. I had seconds 🙂
Bread – Amazing, Awesome

Seriously, experiment. Use vegetables that you know you like and make a soup. You will be pleasantly surprised. 🙂

  • I like to consume my leftovers within 5 days… so on my calendar on June 23 I’ve written “5 days – experimental soup”.


Update

June 22, 2009…2:30PM

In hindsight, I would not have added the ground cloves, I think it accentuates the beet-y-ness. Otherwise, still a good soup as leftovers. Leftovers – the true test.

Also, I like to add that whenever I’m making something with broth or sauce… I pay extra attention to it. I feel that I know I like the ingredients going into the soup/stir-fry/whatever, so the sauce/broth is going to make or break the dish. I taste the broth/sauce often, always checking the spices. Sometimes just a pinch more salt is all it needs. My ‘je ne sais quoi’ tends to be ‘better than bouillon vegetable base’ because it lends a depth of flavor that is more than just salt. Because it comes in a jar of syrupy-paste I can add a little or a lot.

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3 thoughts on “the auspicious squirrel and the experimental soup…

  1. The soup and bread look really good. It’s amazing what you can think of using simple ingredients. I may have to try your bread sometime, as I have always seen it but never tasted it! Going to go eat lunch now……..

    • I have a bit of bread left from yesterday… I’ll have to give it to you if I see you today 🙂 It’s the roasted garlic and potato, yummy. Keep in mind that it’ll be ‘day-old’ bread… I plan to make a new loaf tonight… might have to call you up and give you some straight from the oven 😀

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