Turn Leftovers Into Soup

I’ve been trying to eat more soup lately. It’s the season for soup, but it’s also one of the best foods you can eat if you’re trying to lose weight or eat more healthy foods. Broth-based soups fill you up and leave you feeling satisfied without adding a lot of calories. They also are a good way of getting a lot of vegetables into your diet.

Often, I’ll try to make a big pot of soup on the weekend and then freeze the leftovers for lunches. But I have to admit that I don’t often think ahead. I either don’t take the container out of the freezer to thaw in time, or I skip making the soup altogether.

I usually have a lot of cooked vegetables left over from weeknight dinners, though, and I hate to throw food out, but eating reheated vegetables doesn’t always appeal to me. This week, the lightbulb went on. I don’t know why it never occurred to me before to turn those leftover vegetables into soup. All you really need to keep on hand is some stock, which is easy enough to make ahead of time, or you can buy it pre-made (I prefer the kind that comes in the aseptic containers, as those brands seem to have less salt).

All I did was simmer the cooked vegetables with some stock to cover for about 10-15 minutes. Roasted and braised vegetables seem to work best, but any veggies will do. If the vegetables get too soft and mushy, just puree the soup in the blender or with an immersion stick blender, and you have cream of whatever soup. Season well, but make sure the seasonings you add don’t clash with whatever seasoning might already be on the pre-cooked vegetables.

A little grated cheese or a dollop of plain yogurt makes a great garnish. You could also toss in whatever bits of leftover cooked meat there might be, such as roasted chicken or some crumbled bacon. Voila! A quick and healthy lunch is on the table, with very little pre-planning required.

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2 thoughts on “Turn Leftovers Into Soup

  1. GroundCherry 7 November 2011 at 11:23 am

    A little leftover grain can act as a thickener too, while also being thrifty. I like to toss the extra quarter cup of rice in the freezer to use in those clean-out-the-fridge pots of soup. The other smart element that I enjoy in broth-based soups is that you are preserving any water soluble nutrients that might otherwise drain off into the sink.

    An old school cookbook once suggested storing a jar in the fridge and pouring water from boiled or steamed veg into it. You could then use it for broth, or with tomato juice as a “pick-me-up” instead of coffee (not so sure about that, but…maybe.).

  2. Shannon 7 November 2011 at 3:54 pm

    Thanks for the tips! That’s a great use for leftover rice.

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