Archive for February, 2013

“Anything goes,” so they say.

If you’re like me, you get a lot of emails, many of them not personal. Most of them I bring upon myself as a consequence of my apparent inability to resist the “Subscribe here” urge. I’ve clicked those buttons, or signed up at events, often enough that I created a secondary email address for all of these emails to go to. In turn, this means that just a few actually get read. This is kind of sad, I’ll admit, having written enewsletters myself, because I know the time that goes into them at the other end, with all the concern about format or images or color schemes. That said, the reality is, what I open each month has little to do with any of that. In all honestly, the likelihood that any one of these emails will be read by me is kind of like a game of roulette – one month Organization X gets lucky, the next it might be Retail Store Y.

A few days ago, my random email read of choice was from a store in Minneapolis called Local D’LishOpened a few years ago in downtown, the owners state on their About Us page that “Every purchase from Local D’Lish is helping to support our own local farmers and small businesses.” For those of you who know me, you can guess that this strikes a chord with my commitment to buying local food and supporting the businesses that, in my opinion, are most valuable to our communities. Due to the location, however, I’ve only made it into the store once, about a year and a half ago, but from what I remember, they’ve done an excellent job of connecting with local growers and food creators, mostly small and medium-sized operations, to stock the shelves of the small store with all sorts of culinary delights.

What I discovered in the Local D’Lish enewsletter last week is that each month they feature a recipe (something I guess I either forgot or didn’t know, given the infrequency with which I have read the emails). The quasi-recipe this month was called “Anything Goes Soup.” This one specifically caught my eye because I’ve been working to clean out my freezer and cupboards in anticipation of the coming growing season (yes, I know, I know, we are still several months out from harvest time – a girl can dream, right?). I also had a goal this last year of using everything from 2012 before the 2013 season (or at least by the end of the 2013 summer), and I found that somehow I was still using things from 2011 (I am guessing this is not a phenomenon specific to myself), so I’ve had some extra motivation this winter. As part of this effort, a few weeks ago I made a chicken chili and was quite proud of myself for only using ingredients I already had – it really does speak volumes to the idea of “shopping at home” first before making your next meal, both as a way to save money and waste less food.

As you might guess, a recipe called “Anything Goes Soup” is really more of a guide than a specific set of directions, which made the recipe even more appealing because I’ve been trying to feel a bit more brave with experimenting in cooking versus just doing what other people have already done. Nothing wrong with following a recipe, but there is much to be said for being able to create your own kitchen masterpieces sans a cookbook.

So, here’s the recipe as presented by Local D’Lish:

Ingredients:

  • a can of stewed tomatoes (from your mom’s garden or wherever…)
  • a bag of frozen corn (that you blanched last August and dutifully froze and forgot about)
  • an old yogurt container full of turkey stock from Thanksgiving (or beef stock from Christmas, or chicken stock from who-knows-when)

  • any and all of the wilty celery and slightly wrinkly potatoes that have fallen to the back of your crisper
  • a can of pinto beans that’s been sitting under your kidney beans long enough

  • the tail end of 3 different kinds of pasta, not enough on their own, but who cares if you have rotini, macaroni, and rigatoni in your soup?
  • pretty much anything else that needs to get used up (can of tiny shrimp from that cheese dip you never made, ham hock from your meat CSA, garlic that started to sprout little green tails…). You get the idea.
  • SALT.

  • Ground black pepper
  • any seasoning you like, but hearty dried herbs like oregano, thyme, and rosemary are great with most thrown-together soups

Directions:

  1. Thaw your stock either by putting it in the fridge the day before. OR put it in a warm water bath for an hour or two.
  2. Cook any savory bits (like onions, garlic, ginger…) in a sauce pan with a bit of oil until tender.
  3. Add stock and any juicy stuff (like canned tomatoes).
  4. Add raw/frozen vegetables and cook for a while.
  5. Add any meat.
  6. Save already cooked veggies (like beans) and pasta until the end so you don’t overcook them into mush. Unless you like mush. Which can also be tasty.

Knowing I had plenty of “anything” in the list above, I assessed my freezer, fridge crisper drawers and spice shelf, and assembled the following:

  • onion and garlic, both stored from last fall

    DSC_0291

    A few of the ingredients used

  • quart of homemade veggie broth, frozen in late 2011
  • about one cup of homemade chicken broth, frozen in late 2012
  • gallon bag (about 1/3 full) of homegrown Sungold tomatoes, frozen in 2011
  • half dozen medium, and very wrinkly, blue potatoes
  • two carrots from our fall CSA
  • a few pieces of antelope jerky, made by my parents last fall, that had somehow gotten a bit too salty for straight eating
  • a few handfuls of store-bought SnoPac frozen peas
  • part of a very sad-looking green cabbage
  • store-bought bag (about 1/4 full) of shelled organic edamame
  • half dozen mushrooms
  • two handfuls of penne pasta
  • herbs/spices (all dry): parsley (homegrown), thyme (from our CSA last fall), rosemary, Trader Joe’s Salt Free Pasta Blend seasoning, garlic salt, black pepper
  • small shake of cornstarch to thicken

Following the order of ingredient addition above, the whole process took me about an hour (including gleaning everything from the various nooks and crannies of my freezer and cupboards) – not bad for a soup.

DSC_0297MY NOTES: What a great soup! I am very happy with the way mine turned out. It has a rich savory flavor, but also a hint of sweetness which I think is probably from the Sungolds and maybe the peas. Though I didn’t use much meat (just the cut up bits of jerky) or pasta, both add some nice variety to the veggie medley. Had I thought more about it, I probably should have added the jerky about ten minutes earlier so it could hydrate more, but I’m hoping overnight in the fridge will do the same. The color of the blue potatoes is a bit odd with everything else, but I’m glad I opted to use them. I also decided to add the cornstarch to give it a little more of a stew feel.

Soup really is a great way to use veggies that are still edible but are maybe a bit soft, have bad spots which can be cut off or are a little frosty from too long of a stay in the freezer. So, for those of you out there who are constantly digging through bags and containers of frozen or otherwise preserved and stored foods, now is the time to bring them all out and see what you can create. And don’t worry – as they say, “Anything goes!”

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February 17, 2013 at 10:09 pm 1 comment


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