I love soup so much I once blogged about it for a year. Now the season has me almost giddy for what is also the original tightwad foodie meal.
Look for bargains at the farmers' market for your soup. Also use all scraps of leftovers for the pot. For stock, use a recipe like this one, or make up your own from various vegetables in your bag for the week. Making stock is one way of not wasting vegetable scraps.
I originally thought I'd make a white bean and kale soup. But the more I thought about it, I began to dream up soup toppings. My favorite kale and caramelized garlic recipe seemed like a perfect addition to this soup. I didn't want the caramelized garlic, which is amazing, to get lost in the soup flavors, so why not have a soup topping? Avocado and tomatoes would complete the look I wanted for this dish.
I could almost see and taste it.Why don't we have soup toppings like we do pizza, ice cream, pancakes, salads and casseroles? It's always the same old croutons, tortilla chips or crackers--saltines. Blah! I've seen friends put a hint of Parmesan on top or chopped kalamata olive, but why not go all out? How about an actual salad on top of soup?
Or maybe we should just banish croutons and crackers, and garnish soup with fresh vegetables.
Though I love buying beans at the farmers' market, these days, we're back to $100 a week. Though I gave it up at one time, it's now here to stay. I did use the remainder of my soldier beans from Ayer's Creek Farm, but use whatever white beans you have because the flavor of this soup does not depend on gourmet beans.
One thing I don't skimp on at the market is shiitaki mushrooms. Shiitakis are known for boosting your immune system and I try to buy two pints every week at the farmers' market from Sno Valley. Two pints for us lasts for 5 meals, and these fresh shiitake are so much better than anything you can get, even from natural food stores, around Seattle. Some things are just too good to give up.
Save the stems for stock. Let them completely dry on a flat surface. Then put them in a little baggie or a jar until you need them.
Sweet potatoes, yams and potatoes are perfect soup ingredients, too. If you peel them or cut the ends off, save those skins for stock. Then take the spent soup stock veggies out to the compost.
Celery is always good in soup but it wasn't in my budget this week. It's got to be part of the weekly menu board to make the cut. So if you don't have a certain vegetable for soup, substitute another or skip it.
I used a shallot, and though typically shallots cost more than onions, use whatever you have. Soup is meant to be an adaptable budget meal. I got my shallots from a friend who had replanted with shallot bulbs I gave her last year. This was an unexpected amazing gift, and it's good to use a gift in your soup pot.
Gifts in soup pots bring good luck. (I made that up, but you never know, the soup pot could change your life.)
One thing is certain about a strict food budget--we clearly don't waste food like we used to.
This month King County is launching Food: Too Good to Waste in mid-October. Though our family wasn't poor when I grew up, we ate plenty of planned leftovers. If mom had meatloaf one evening, the next dinner was spaghetti.
If leftover cooking is new for you, check out the recipes, tips and videos, on the link above, on how to use the things in your refrigerator.
In my opinion, most people don't really respect food in America because an astounding amount of food is tossed out every day. Though restaurants and ready made deli foods have pull dates and end up in landfills, people overbuy, change eating plans, don't keep track of what's in the refrigerator--for any number of reasons. Most Americans simply don't take food and wasted food seriously. Maybe it's because supermarket shelves are piled so high and many people have adopted the idea you can always buy another one of--you name it.
For years, I also threw out vegetables that were old or fruit that had gone bad. I'd get too much in my CSA or buy something impulsively, and while I'm good at using leftovers, I've found one of the best ways to use more of the food in your refrigerator is to put yourself on a strict food budget. And stick to it.
It's the upside of a living on what people spend when they have food stamps. When food is scarce--you quickly learn to value what you have. It's sink or swim for your weekly food.
Here I have dried mushroom stems and leftovers from the vegetable bin, both destined for soup stock. I also focus on vegetables with a longer lifespan.
|I'm going back to basics and getting tips from the old Tightwad Gazette.|
|My favorite mushrooms are also medicinal. I cut the stems off the larger mushrooms and save them for stock.|
Root vegetables are coming into season and the price comes down for seasonal vegetables like winter squash, sweet potatoes, beets, cabbage and kale. Prices are going up for red peppers, eggplant and cucumbers.
|When you remove the center stem, you can discard the tough end and thinly slice the skinny part for a stir fry.|
|From apple cores (minus the seeds) to carrots, our hound dogs get first dibs on anything that may go to the compost.|
Like a salad and soup in one bowl. What's stopping restaurants from doing this? Serve with warmed bagels or corn bread.
White Bean and Quinoa Soup with Kale and Caramelized Garlic
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 shallot, minced
1 red pepper, diced
1 cup diced zucchini
1 cup shiitake mushrooms mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 red potato, diced
1 garnet yam, diced
2 to 3 tablespoons tomato paste
1/4 cup Riesling
1/2 teaspoon thyme
6 sundried tomatoes, chopped
5 cups stock
1/2 cup white, beans, soaked overnight
2 cups corn (fresh or frozen)
1 cup green beans (fresh or frozen)
1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed
Salt and pepper to taste
1 lemon, cut into wedges
Heat oil in a heavy soup pot over medium heat. Add shallot and red pepper. Stir and cook until shallot begins to brown. Add mushrooms and zucchini. Stir and cook for a few minutes before blending in garlic, red potato, and yam. Stir to coat all vegetables with oil.
Blend in tomato paste, Riesling and thyme before adding sundried tomatoes, stock, white beans and corn. Bring to a boil. Then reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour or until beans are tender.
Add green beans, quinoa and a dash of hot sauce. Simmer until quinoa is done, about 15 minutes. Serve soup with a lemon wedge. Top with Kale and Garlic (below), fresh tomatoes and avocados.
Kale and Garlic
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 head garlic, cloves separated, peeled and sliced
1 bunch Tuscan kale, middle stem removed, leaves thinly sliced
2 to 4 tablespoons water, apple juice or Riesling
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until browned.
Add kale and stir until coated with oil. Then blend in water or apple juice. Stir, then cover and sweat the kale until it wilts. When done, squeeze the lemon over it, toss, then add salt and pepper to taste. Use tongs to spread kale over soup before adding tomatoes and avocado.
1/2 large avocado, diced
1 cup chopped fresh tomatoes
|We're still working on our abundant tomato harvest.|