Sunday, 30 March 2008

Soup and Confessions

After posting that no-waste thing, I had to go and clean out the fridge. I confess to wasting a half dozen eggs and a small carton of yoghurt with use-by dates in February, and about 1/4 cup of stewed quince which was growing mould. And it was Earth Hour last night, too. Tut tut. Shame on me.

Anyway, I thought I'd go into more detail about leftover roast something or other soup, as it is one of those great classics that everyone should have up their sleeve.

Recipe: Leftover Roast Something Soup

1 leftover roast something or other
the baking tray from the roast
leftover vegetables
leftover wine
an onion
a celery stalk, with leaves
a carrot
a handful of herbs
salt, to taste
old vegetables that look like they need using up (optional)
stock (optional)
noodles (optional)
a handful of soup mix or pearl barley (optional)
frozen vegetables (optional)

Remove any huge obvious hunks of fat from the roast and the pan. Discard - or save if it's yummy duck fat or similar. Toss the roast in a very big saucepan, and add the onion, celery and carrot. Pour boiling water over the baking tray and give it a good stir to get up any bits. Add that to the saucepan. Toss in a handful of fresh herbs from the garden, or use a few dry ones. I like to get melodic with "parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme", but I seldom have the parsley. I usually include bay leaves, and some tarragon is nice with chicken. Add more water to cover. No salt!

Bring to the boil, skim off any scum, and let it simmer for a couple of hours. Remove the meat, and set aside. The carrot and onion may be worth keeping, too. Strain the stock, remembering that you want to keep the liquid, not the debris! Apparently this is a mistake that all cooks make at some time in their lives. Since I never have, I'm probably due to do it real soon now. Let the stock chill in the fridge, and remove all fat from the top.

Trim all useful edible bits off the roast, and throw away the bones and gristle. Put the stock in the saucepan, with any extra stock if using. Add soup mix or barley, if using, and simmer for half an hour, then add any uncooked hard vegetables that you want. Parsnip, swede, carrot, that sort of thing. Keep simmering until vegetables and soup mix are barely done. Add the leftover wine, the meat fragments, chopped leftover vegetables, frozen vegetables, noodles if you want etc. Simmer until done, then add salt to taste, and adjust as you wish. How about some pepper? Perhaps a squeeze of lemon, or some chopped fresh herbs, or a dash of worcestershire sauce.

Soup mix is a traditional English blend of dried lentils, peas, beans and grains. You can generally find it at supermarkets, in the teeny tiny dried bean section. Italian delis often have their own variant, for making minestrone - another great classic of the use'em up school. A pack of mixed dhal from an Indian shop could do well, too.

This will come out different every time. Sometimes it will be brilliant, and sometimes it will just be OK. You go with the flow, and don't try to re-create an especially good one - just enjoy your luck. In the last week, I made two of these soups, and the chicken one was really nice, but the lamb came out overly bland until I added worcestershire and pepper. The main thing is that this converts leftovers and odds and ends into a nice lunch for me or my guests. The bloke, however, is opposed to "soup with bits in". Unless they are tom yum or laksa. Go figure.


BJ said...

ha! a variant of what we less-poetically call 'dead veggie soup' - or 'bottom of the crisper fashions'. a sunday night regular.

I usually make a veg only version, due to lack of leftover roast (and thanks for the tip about the roasting pan, I must remember not to wash them up so quickly). and it is indeed often a poor-man's minestrone variant.

I tend to throw in cold rice or pasta which is ubiquitous in my fridge.. and a slosh of sour cream or plain yoghurt on top with a big handful of hacked up fresh herb (almost anything will do) on top is very nice..

infoaddict said...

My mother and sister have been visiting this last week and, as usual, left behind enough food to feed an army.

Generally I'm pretty bad about remembering to use it, esp. as it tends to consist of slabs o'meat, which is never as nice re-heated.

This time, however, I got _organised_. And I got out the mincer attachment to my Kenwood :) :)

So the remains of the world's largest roast loin of pork got minced and mixed with elderly frozen beef mince from the freezer. The soft leftover crackling (naturally, the crunchy crackling didn't last the night) got cut into little bits and slowly heated with the garlic for the fat component to cook the meat. And then I used up a LOT of tinned and bottom-of-fridge tomatoes. I now have two stockpots of ragu for use with pasta, mexican taco things, and anything else I use mincey stew stuff for (but not shepherd's pie, 'cos it's about the only savoury dish I dislike).

The leftover lovely organic chook has been combined with pumpkin and peas into one of my favourite risottos - pea and pumpkin (well, duh). It's TQD's microwaved version (apart from anything, my stovetop was taken up with ragu-making!!), doubled in quantity, for freezing. The texture of the zapped version can be variable, depending on the actual risotto rice used. This one's a bit gluggy but still delicious for low-effort lunches and dinners this week.

And THEN, most of the rest of the veggies got italian-roasted, topped with random spare sausages and double-size lamb chops. And that's today's lunch as well.

I feel so _virtuous_ :)