Monday, July 21, 2008

The Cycle of... Soup?

Oh, dear. I feel a soup coming on...

As I've mentioned, one of the things I've been honing as I eat my way through the Challenge is my ability to utilize various leftovers. I have a tendency to buy food for meals without much (or at least without enough) thought given to what I might do with the remainders. As a result, I've historically wasted ungodly amounts of food. But without the option of cheap Chinese take-out, or pizza, when I realize that the bits & pieces in my 'fridge are past saving, I've had to really start thinking more long-term. Not to mention that, while I'm finding that eating locally is fairly affordable (at least for fairly minimal me, on a fairly minimal budget), it isn't exactly free. How can I stretch the ol' dollar?

One result, as I've displayed over & over again, is omelets, omelets, omelets. Another is soup.

Barley, potato & tomato soup, with Canadian bacon,
green garlic & mushrooms

Those who know & work with me are probably aware that soup is my so-called thing. It's probably, hands-down, my favorite thing to cook. This one is the offspring of my delicious pork country rib, turnip & tomato experiment. I had to make a stock to braise the pork & complete the tomato-flavored sauce, so I figured, "Why make a little stock, when I can make a lot of stock?" With this in mind, I made sure to obtain some bulk barley & extra potatoes for a later recycling into soup. I happened to have some white mushrooms that were teetering on the edge of slimesville, so into the soup they went, as well. Also on hand (& nearing the end of their useful life) were some scraps of Canadian bacon. All told, I managed to efficiently re-use the varied components of something like 4 separate meals, all in one dish. Locally made A Toast to Bread "petit petit pains" (aka "small, small breads"?) completed the picture. Gotta sop the soup, after all.

A later visit to pork-land left me with a goodly amount of mashed parsnips & potatoes. I was simultaneously sitting on a piece or two of rapidly "aging" cheese, & some milk that needed a home, sooner than later. My direction seemed clear. Or, rather, creamy:

Cream of parsnip & potato soup, with crispy bacon,
cheddar & gruyere cheese, & purple onion

This was a pretty tasty result, as well, especially with the addition of those gorgeous purple-tinged green onions that have started making the rounds. Just throwing a few slivers on top as a garnish took the soup to a higher plane.

I know, I know, there's a whole lot of bacon being thrown around here, & neither of these examples are exactly ideally suited to the dog-days of summer. The point is, soup is by nature virtually limitless in its possibilities, economical, & amazingly simple. Why, one could almost define it as a "free lunch".

& having recently spotted local cucumbers in the produce section, I know it's only a short while before we're all guzzling that highlight of summertime... Gazpacho!

-nano out.

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