There are usually some leftovers when I cook. Not the meal very often but its components. For example, today I have about 4 cups of cubed and cooked potatoes in a tub in the refrigerator left from last week. They are running out of time. This seems like a place to start so I look around for other additions that will turn into a pot of something good.
I always keep carrots, olive oil and spices around. In my dehydrated stores, mushrooms are a wonderful umami booster to any dish. There has been a leek in the crisper for a while the tops looking a little shabby. In the fridge also is some milk I must use up and a tub of sour cream with a couple of nice dollops that need to go away before it’s too late. Not sounding very glamorous is it?
Well, here’s how we’ll put the glam to the pan:
Clean, slice and sauté a leek (an onion will also do) in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil until soft and slightly golden on some pieces. Add the cooked potato cubes and go over them with a potato masher until coarsely but evenly mashed. Stir in about 5 cups milk (I had whole milk), add 2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Also add spices you like. I used parsley flakes for a hint of greenery and coriander for a hot and lemony hit. A pinch of red pepper flakes adds nice heat if you like that. I do!
This needs to be simmered until it bubbles a bit and while we wait for that use a carrot peeler and slice a medium carrot with it to make ultra thin slices. It whiles away the time it takes for the soup to bubble and adds beautiful color to the pot. Those dehydrated mushrooms I mentioned come into play here. I grab a few slices and crush them in my hand and add the flakes to the pot. You can’t see them much but you sure will taste the mellow earthy goodness they impart.
Once everything has a chance to simmer and blend flavors it’s time to add a bit more creaminess. It’s time to close off the flame so the dairy components won’t break and look grainy. Those dollops of sour cream are just the touch. If you happen to have some regular cream, a shot of that will add more richness. Just stir it and let it melt right in. As a final touch that adds that Je’ ne sais quoi (that’s how a diva says “I don’t know what”) a tablespoon of Parmesan cheese gives everything a sharper taste. Don’t add too much or the secret will be revealed. You want just enough to have people try to guess what that great (or grated) taste is. Another ingredient that does that in tiny amounts is nutmeg. Grate some fresh or go to your spice rack an add just a wee pinch.
In the end our leftovers have never looked and tasted better. The refrigerator is slightly cleaner and the company at the dining room table are enjoying themselves better after raking leaves, working on the car and cleaning and cooking. I think after all this work we’ll have to dress up for a date night tonight. And that’s how we glam the leftovers.
We got a bit of a cold snap today with temps around the 50’s. Jackets were called for to block the chilly winds. A warm bowl of soup was the next order of the day so I conjured up something warm and creamy and comforting; creamy corn chowder.
To make this rich and tasty soup I started with these ingredients:
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp bacon grease/ butter
- 1 medium onion finely diced
- 1 large rib of celery finely diced
- 1 carrot thinly sliced
- 1 cup frozen, or freshly cut corn
- 1/2 red pepper finely diced
- 1 clove of garlic minced
- 2 medium baked russet potatoes peeled and finely diced
- 2 tbsp corn starch
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp parsley flakes
- a pinch of ground thyme
- a pinch of ground sage
- 2 cups water
- 1 and 1/2 cup milk or half and half
- 1 cup chicken broth (or a bouillon cube dissolved in 1 cup boiling water)
- 1 cup chopped greens.(I used red and green lettuce mix from the garden)
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- a pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
This looks like a lot of ingredients, but half are seared vegetables and half are the liquids and spices (I combined the spices and cornstarch into a bowl to add it all at once). You add them in that way, preparing the vegetables in the pot with the oil on high heat, just searing the edges about three minutes. Add the potatoes along with the seasoning mixture, stir it all in for a few seconds to let the herbs bloom a bit and the corn starch stick to the vegetables. Right away add the water and stir until the bottom of the pan cleans up a bit from the seared vegetables and spice mixture. Let those caramelized flavors brew into the water, add the other liquids, and let everything simmer together for about 30 minutes. All the individual ingredients add their own special pizzaz.
Let the pot of soup cool for about ten minutes before serving and get ready for a mouthful! With everything cut in tiny pieces in the beginning, everything in the end is sufficiently intermingled with everything else. The result is so much flavor throughout each bite and each bowl you won’t believe it! Warm, rich, savory, sweet, bright, satisfying and delicious; this soup’s got it all.
These wintry days call for warm soothing meals at home. Soup with savory leeks and mushrooms in a creamy broth is the ticket. Leeks are of the mildest among the onion family. They cook up to be so tender and tasty and paired with the mild taste of mushrooms, this soup will melt away those chilly winds and give you plenty of energy to shovel the sidewalk yet again. It’s so easy to make too. All you need are:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 leeks cleaned and chopped in 1/4 inch slices
- 5 mushrooms (any kind) thinly sliced
- 1 clove of garlic, finely minced
- 1 quart low sodium chicken broth
- 3 cups milk
- 3/4 cup cream (I used heavy)
- 3/4 cup instant mashed potato flakes
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
- a pinch of red pepper flakes
- Salt and pepper to taste
First saute the leeks and mushrooms in the olive oil until tender. Add the garlic and stir it in to bloom the flavor Add the broth, milk and cream and stir in the potato flakes. Stir in the remaining seasonings and let it simmer about 3 minutes.
Now at least six of you can have a nice hearty bowl of soup to warm you up all over. For extra hardiness you could add some left over chicken cut into cubes or add more pepper flakes to clear the sinuses during a nasty cold. This soup will provide relief and give you energy to muddle on through all that snow.
A while back Mr. Delicious and I bought a portion of a grass fed cow. We have a freezer full of a nice variety of meat now…some of the best meat I’ve ever tasted. Even the cheaper cuts turn out to be something special. I’ve already posted a recipe for Swiss Steak made with the round. It was so good I had to make another one. I did it the usual way, pounding and pricking, salting and searing, adding flour then liquid, then onions and mushrooms and letting it braise for hours in the electric skillet. Being a rather large piece of meat there was plenty left over.
You could never overcook round steak. Cooking it only makes it more tender and that’s what makes it the perfect meat for a hearty soup.
I began by cutting up the remaining steak into tiny cubes. The gravy made by braising the steak really offered tons of good flavor so I made sure to reserve a bit of it to add as well. In a heavy enameled pot, I sauteed the usual vegetables…carrots, celery, and onion. Frozen green beans cut in small segments were also added. I want this soup to have good body so I sprinkled about three tablespoons of flour over the vegetables, stirred it all in and let it cook a minute or so to form a brown layer on the bottom of the pan.
A few more seconds and this brown layer could turn to a burnt layer so I quickly poured in some water to capture this perfect stage of golden brown and prevent it from going over the edge. The water soon began to blend everything together and thicken. I added the rest of the water, totaling two quarts then added the meat and remaining gravy with all of its sumptuous flavor. At this point some final seasoning needed to go in the mix.
Red wine added a deeper color as well as deeper flavor so about a quarter of a cup went in. As the soup began to boil, two teaspoons of salt and a teaspoon of pepper didn’t hurt. Finally, to give it a hit of zippy tang I added about three tablespoons of A-1 sauce (I would never put this on a steak but I love how the stuff adds brightness to sauces and soups like this).
All that this soup needed now was to simmer and let its variety of colors and flavors blend and become a very special tasting soup. In the wintertime in St. Louis (or really anywhere) enjoying a soup like this is a perfect way to stay happy and warm.
You don’t have to go to a soup kitchen for free soup…at least I didn’t have to today. I just went to my trusty old refrigerator and cleaned out the leftovers. In there I found all the ingredients in the title of this entry, added a few spices like minced garlic, onion powder, freshly ground black pepper, and a pinch of salt.
The green beans were already cooked with onions and bacon which seasoned them nicely. The potatoes were left over boiled and peeled russets, and the tomatoes were from a partially used can of Ro-tel tomatoes with green chilies… plenty of heat and flavor there. I added a splash each of cream and milk , mashed it all together with the potato masher, heated it in the microwave, and this lovely and delicious soup was the result. Just what is needed on this cool day.
This year is winding up in a tough way with snow and sickness all around. Seems like everyone I talk to lately has some affliction. It is true in our house too. A nasty cold, cough, sniffley thing is going around. I’m doing well but trying hard to stay out of everyone’s germy way, so that means I’m in the kitchen a lot with my nose over a nice pot of steamy something or other. Today with already an inch and a half of snow on the ground and a husband to cure up before a long midnight shift, I made a stew with some things from the fridge and pantry.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 of a Johnsonville summer sausage (1/2 cup cubed)
- 1 medium onion
- 1 green bell pepper
- 1 red bell pepper
- 2 ribs of celery
- a handful (2 tablespoons chopped) fresh cilantro
- 1 package of Uncle Ben’s long grain and wild rice, original flavor
- 2 and 1/2 cups water
- 2 swai fillets
- 1 32 oz. carton vegetable stock
- 1 15 oz can of fire roasted diced tomatoes
The first thing I did was heat the oil, dice up the vegetables and sausage, and toss them in a big stock pot. I let the onions get clear then added the spices and cilantro. I let that saute a bit then add the water and wild rice package along with the seasoning packet that comes with it. I put the lid on, put the flame on simmer and let that go about 25 minutes or until the rice absorbed the liquid. The swai fillets were chopped into 1/2 in chunks and tossed in. A good rolling boil was achieved just until the swai was cooked through and all white. This only took about three minutes. I turned down the flame again and added the vegetable stock and tomatoes. This was now let to simmer a few more minutes.
It all came together and was a nice seafood gumbo type soup…warm and soothing. The spice was just enough to open sinuses but not cause a sore throat to become more sore. It was just what the doctor diva ordered this cold snowy day.