by Tammy Taylor
Around the Taylor household, breakfast is usually very light – for me it often involves homemade yogurt sweetened with honey & berries. Lunch is also very informal and really only for our sustenance. (the only planned recipe eat-together meal we have is our evening supper.) Typically for summertime lunches RancherMan & I usually just grab a quick sandwich of some kind but in the wintertime I hunger for something a little more substantial, and something hot. I enjoy soups in the winter and this year I’ve been a crazy dehydrating fool so I’ve got all kinds of dehydrated veggies from the garden to nourish us – onions, squash, cabbage, carrots, potatoes & green beans among others. And I also have lots of dehydrated herbs from my garden like thyme, sage and oregano. So putting this soup together is fun, but the really fun part is – this is perpetual soup!
I start with a base, usually by cooking some kind of meat seasoned with onions and garlic, then I start assembling my soup. After draining the meat I’ll add in the other ingredients – homemade stock (whatever I have in the freezer – chicken, turkey, beef or veggie) to get the broth base going. Then I’ll add in the veggies. and typically follow this pattern: I use what needs to be eaten from the fridge first, then any fresh veggies we have, then home-canned, frozen or dehydrated, and finally purchased canned vegetables. So I begin my veggie additions by raiding the fridge for leftover veggies from last night’s meal or whatever I find, then add several different varieties of fresh or preserved veggies, and lastly I add a handful of rice. I love a brothy soup but Rancherman prefers less broth, so by adding a handful of rice the excess broth is soaked up into the soup. When the soup is finally comprised of all the ingredients I like, I simmer it until the rice is tender, about 20 minutes and we enjoy a steaming bowl of soup for lunch. Today I chopped up my re-sprouting green onions & celery tops & stirred them in right at the end of the cooking time – Dee-Licious! I like to toast some rye bread to go with it – it’s a very hearty meal.
When we’re finished with lunch the remaining soup is stored in the fridge. The next day when lunchtime rolls around I’ll pull out the soup and stir in a can of veggies, juice & all. This adds another serving to the soup & I love the blending of flavors that it causes. Then we repeat each day until close to the end of the week when I stop adding new veggies to the pot and we just finish consuming the soup that remains. At first it’s pretty meat-heavy, a favorite for RancherMan, but as the week progresses it gets more veggie heavy, my fave. So we’re both pacified.
But the beauty of this system is that the soup 1) makes use of anything waiting to be eaten so it doesn’t go to waste, 2) is different every time based on what’s available in the freezer/fridge/pantry, 3) has so much less salt & preservatives than soup that’s purchased in the store and 4) it’s made right in your own kitchen for just pennies!
I’ve heard of doing something similar by having a special container in the freezer where everything leftover after supper gets added until it’s full enough to make soup. I’ve done that too and although it works well, this method keeps RancherMan & me in bone-warming soup lunches all week long. Plus it’s resulted very little actual kitchen time – you KNOW I love that!
UPDATE: Endless soup isn’t just for winter nutrition, it can be enjoyed in the summer months too! I’m adding extra veggies to my diet & putting the excess garden veggies to good use by making an endless summer-vegetable soup. Today I used vegetable broth to rehydrate my dehydrated cabbage & purple onions and also to lightly cook fresh summer squash, zucchini, green beans, asparagus beans, chopped tomatoes and a small handful of whole wheat pasta to soak up the extra broth. I stirred in some chopped fresh basil & sage too.
Now none of my fresh, healthy garden produce is going to waste my lunches for the week are heat-n-eat fast!
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