I’m the kind of person who freezes leftover meat and vegetable trimmings, then makes quarts and quarts of stock so I can have a homemade soup bubbling on the stove at a moment’s notice.
I’ll bet I’m in the minority. But the reason I do it? Because nothing beats a great homemade soup. It tastes great, and, done right, it’s about as inexpensive a meal as you’re going to make.
Take chicken-noodle soup, for one. What’s worse than a thin, watered down broth, dried-out shreds of chicken, disintegrating noodles and mushy vegetables? Nine times out of 10, that’s what you get when you open the white paper lid on one of those to-go soup cups. The reason? Bad flavor and bad texture.
But if you plan ahead — say, make a roast chicken for dinner one night and have noodles for a side dish — you’ve got homemade ingredients, ready for a thrifty leftover meal. And of course, your soup will have great flavor and great texture.
A few soups I’ve made this winter win big in all three departments: flavor, texture and thrift: French Onion, which I spiked with a little sherry; Beef and Barley, which I made after a nice steak dinner; and Thai Coconut Chicken Soup, which was my supper a few nights after I’d cooked a big roast chicken.
The French Onion really is a typical peasant dish: when all you have are bones, onions and a few leftover pieces of bread and cheese, you can still have a satisfying, if not terrific meal. The Beef and Barley easily takes care of any leftover vegetables, beef and grains you might have. And Thai Coconut Chicken? Who ever thought that with a couple of cans of coconut milk, you could turn leftover chicken into a brand-new meal, exploding with exotic flavors?
And all you need to do to have these delicious meals??Freeze your leftovers. Make stock. And plan ahead. I’ve got tips for you in the recipes below.
Another bonus — and more thrift, too: These soups, made from leftovers, make great leftovers themselves. I mean, who doesn’t love a steaming bowl of soup for lunch?