With the weather below zero the past few days in our part of New Hampshire, thoughts turn to warm, easy to prepare meals. Soups and stews long have been a winter tradition in my family. They’re filling, easy to prepare, a good way to use up leftovers and a method of stretching the budget.
So leftover meats (chicken, turkey, beef and pork) go into the brew, along with veggies that may be left from a meal. My soups never taste the same nor follow an exact recipe.
That’s the way my mother made soups and stews…using what she had on hand. Usually they taste delicious except when we try a new ingredient so may not turn out just the way we envision.
Main Meal Pies
I also like to make chicken and beef pies with leftover foods. Usually I simply prepare them with only a top crust. This results in fewer calories and eliminates a soggy bottom crust. (Actually my hubby often makes the crust while I stir up the filling for the deep-dish pie. He’s perfected this phase of cooking!)
I like to serve cole slaw or tossed salad with meat and vegetable pies. For anyone who doesn’t like a meat pie, simply use vegetables and perhaps some tofu.
Soups from Leftovers
Soups provide a good way to use leftovers so they don’t go to waste. One friend keeps a container in her freezer. Into this go leftover vegetables and meats. When the container is full, she thaws the contents to make soup.
By adding chicken or beef stock, some noodles, potatoes or rice, seasonings, and other vegetables if necessary, she had a filling meal for autumn and winter days. You might call this a modern day version of my mom’s black pot into which she stirred leftovers.
For my chicken soup, I cut up the leftover chicken breast and added it to four cups of water. Then I stirred in cut up carrots, a diced potato, a diced onion, a handful (about ½ cup) of brown rice and ½ cup frozen green peas. I added seasonings…salt and pepper and a dash of poultry seasoning to taste.
Because the soup seemed too thick as it simmered, I added more water until it was of the desired consistency. Cook until vegetables are tender. This is good made ahead (early afternoon in my case) and set in the refrigerator until supper/dinner time. Then reheat.
This is the type of recipe that you can vary depending on what you have on hand and what ingredients you like to eat. For instance, I simply couldn’t tolerate (I guess, unless I was starving) beets in my soup. Someone else might not like the carrots or onions Jim and I do in our soups.
What are your favorite soups for winter?
©2009 Mary Emma Allen
(Mary Emma Allen writes from her multigenerational home in NH. This morning she’s contemplating warm foods to cook today when the temperature is hovering around zero at mid-day. )