Thursday, January 29, 2015

Luscious Leftovers - Part II

Venerating Vegetables - Take 1


Leftover Vegetable Soup

Leftover vegetables are a tricky thing.

Why?

Because most people don't like fresh ones, let alone the leftovers. It's only in recent years with the rise in popularity of specialty diets like vegetarianism and veganism that the idea of veggies as something more than a side dish has arisen. Veggies have now gone beyond steaming and slathering with butter or serving raw with high fat sour cream and mayonnaise based dips. Everyone and their cousin is now consuming copious amounts of kale, and discovering ethnic cuisines like Indian that worship veggies as much as Americans love their steak.

It is unfortunate that despite all this, many still eat too few vegetables, and animal based proteins like poultry, beef, and pork remain the main event at meals. I'm no vegetarian, but I'd like to change all that. And I don't mean through the use of so called "meat alternatives" - stuff that's created from veggies but usually has the taste and texture of rubber or styrofoam. I mean through the creative use of real vegetables. 

Because the options for veggies - even leftover ones - are so varied, I've decided to split this installment of Luscious Leftovers into three.

All that said: let's get cooking!

Soup
Difficulty Level: Easy
Total Prep and Cook Time: 45 Minutes
Serves at least 4

Soup is a GREAT way of using leftover veggies because everything pretty much looks the same - fresh, frozen, or a couple of days old - when simmered in liquid and then mashed or pureed beyond recognition.

Here's How You Do It

Ingredients

1 Carton or 4 Cups of Chicken or Vegetable Broth - Beef broth, while delicious, is too strong in flavor for this soup.

At least 3 Cups of Fresh or Leftover Vegetables - Coarsely Chopped - Have some leftover salad? Veggies from a crudités platter? Lettuce and Tomato you'd cut up for burgers but didn't end up using? A sweet potato or squash you bought but have no idea what to do with? Toss them in the pot. The soup above was made with some leftover celery, a couple of parsnips, a bunch of leftover carrots I meant to eat as a snack but didn't, and a slightly wrinkled but perfectly edible red bell pepper. If you have squash or sweet potato, be sure to peel them, as their skins are inedible.

1 or 2 Potatoes - Peeled and Chopped - Optional - Have some leftover undressed baked or boiled potatoes? Lose the skin and toss 'em in. While not necessary, they will thicken the soup.

1 Medium Onion - finely chopped

2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper - to taste

Sour Cream or Yogurt - Optional - This is a nice touch if you're serving it to guests, as it adds richness and looks fancy.

Fresh Parsley, Dill, Chives  - Washed and Finely Chopped - Optional - OR - Jarred Pesto - A fresh herb or a little pesto is another way of making something cheap - like this soup - look fancy. Even a single rosemary leaf, like in the photo above, will be a nice touch to impress guests.

Equipment

1 Knife and Cutting Board

1 Large Pot

1 Wooden Spoon

Measuring Cups and Spoons

1 Potato Masher or Immersion Blender

In a large pot on high heat, dump in the oil, heat it for a few seconds, and dump in the onion.

Stir the onion around for a few seconds until it is slightly soft and translucent, and then add the rest of your veg and the potato (if using).

Dump in the broth.

Bring it to a boil and then lower the heat.

Simmer everything for about 30 minutes or until the veggies are tender, stirring every once in a while to make sure the contents of the pot don't burn.

Turn off the heat and mash everything with a potato masher or puree it with an immersion blender until it's your desired level of smoothness.

Season it with salt and pepper to your taste and serve as is or with a dollop of sour cream or yogurt in the center and a sprinkling of fresh herbs or a little pesto.

Stay tuned for next time when I'll be showing you more ideas for re-purposing veggies!

-Samantha R. Gold

Questions? Comments? Requests?

Bring it on!

I can be reached at:  for.the.culinarily.challenged@gmail.com

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