Soup Smarts

soup, leftovers, less waste,

When it’s time to clean up after dinner, we often have small amounts of vegetables or sauces left in the pan. Not quite enough for a leftover lunch, but enough that I don’t want to waste it. Instead of storing these little bits in the fridge, only to throw it out a couple of weeks later once it’s gotten suitably moldy, I keep a container in the freezer where I collect these odds and ends. Green beans, sliced onions, mushrooms, pasta in marinara sauce – it all gets tossed into the same container. When I use a jar of marinara sauce, I rinse the jar with a little bit of water and pour it into my freezer soup pot. When I make pesto sauce, I add a cup of water to the blender and run it to clean off the remaining sauce and I pour in, too.

The trick is to make sure you’re not mixing flavors. I wouldn’t, for instance, mix leftover enchilada sauce in the same container that I’ve saved pesto. Instead, I keep an “Italian style” container and another for “Mexican style” flavors.

When I make soup, I simply add my container of leftover bits (never from someone’s plate, by the way) for extra flavor. This reduces our kitchen waste, eliminates clutter in my refrigerator, and stretches our food budget a bit.

I shared this idea with my friend Jane, whose kids have dubbed this “Memory Lane Soup” because they get to revisit all the things they’ve had for dinner recently. I love that.

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About the author: Kris Bordessa founded Attainable Sustainable as a resource for revitalizing vintage skills. Her book, Attainable Sustainable: The Lost Art of Self-Reliant Living (National Geographic) offers a collection of projects and recipes to help readers who are working their way to a more fulfilling DIY lifestyle. She’s a certified Master Food Preserver and longtime gardener who loves to turn the harvest into pantry staples.

4 comments… add one
  • Christina Jun 7, 2013 @ 3:31

    Great idea! Thanks.

  • joyce avans Nov 30, 2011 @ 11:44

    I’m a baker. My freezer container gathers trimmings, (scraps and broken pieces from leveling tops, sides, ends,) from cakes, brownies, bar cookies. When needed I crumble frozen bits with chopped nuts, dried fruit, and chopped chocolate chunks. Then add enough jam, I prefer apricot, to hold pieces together until shape-able into small balls. Roll in crushed graham crackers, hard candy, granulated sugar, or cocoa powder for elegant truffles.

  • Kris Bordessa Apr 1, 2011 @ 9:44

    Fried rice. Brilliant!

  • Lisa Mann Apr 1, 2011 @ 8:52

    I do the same for fried rice. I have one jar in the freezer for veggies–those little bits of leftover corn, peas, or greens left in the bowl, and another for leftover rice. When they’re both full I add a scrambled egg (we have chickens so we always have eggs) and make fired rice.

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