2012’s leftovers make for fine slurping

| 03 Jan 2013 | 06:01

What do you do with three stalks of mature kale, a half cup each of frozen zucchini and peas, a few scoops of cooked lentils and beans and a small container of chopped tomatoes? Make soup, of course.

Not only is making soup easy (it’s more difficult to drag out the stockpot), it’s a practical and delicious way to use up leftovers and clear out the pantry.

You’ll need a few basics for most vegetable soups: onion, celery, carrots, garlic, fresh or dried herbs, assorted vegetables, rice or legumes and a rich homemade stock. I always keep a few containers of stock in my freezer, but in a pinch use water and a good quality salt-free bouillon. Simply remember the three S’s – sauté, stock, simmer. The more ingredients, the heartier the soup, but avoid strong flavors like turnips that may be overpowering.

First sauté the onion, celery and carrots in a little oil until they start to caramelize. Add your garlic and herbs, stirring until fragrant. Pour in the tomatoes, tomato paste and stock and bring to a boil. Since my curly kale leaves were thick and mature, I sliced them into thin strips first then added them along with frozen chunks of zucchini and green peas. In addition to the predictable container of chickpeas in my refrigerator I was fortunate to have cooked green lentils and creamy cannellini beans to round out my soup. If you have leftover rice, pasta or cubes of roasted potatoes, stir them in, too. Simmer for a few minutes while you cut wedges of good bread for dunking.

Make it nourishing. Make it your own. Make soup.

Pantry clean-out soup


1 tablespoon olive oil

1 yellow onion, chopped

2 celery stalks, sliced

2 carrots, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 teaspoons assorted herbs

1 bay leaf

2 tablespoons tomato paste

3 cups chopped tomatoes

6 cups homemade vegetable stock

4 cups or more of assorted vegetables

3 cups beans, rice, pasta, lentils

salt and pepper

Heat olive oil in a large stockpot. Sauté onion, celery and carrot until slightly caramelized. Add garlic, herbs and bay leaf and sauté 2 minutes longer. Add tomato paste, tomatoes and stock. Stir well, bring to a boil, and add vegetables, beans, rice, lentils or pasta. Season with salt and pepper and simmer for about 20 minutes.