January 23, 2010

Frugal and Delicious Soup

Back in 1982 I read an article from a women's magazine on saving money.  I still have that article in a folder.  Those were the days before the internet and Amy Dacyczyn.  When an article appeared in a magazine on frugal living, I tore it out and filed it away for future reference.

Last fall I pulled out some of those old articles and started re-reading them.  One idea popped out at me and I have since put it into action.  I keep a container in my freezer that holds about 6 cups.  Into it I put leftover vegetables and broth.  Let's face it, we all have some vegetables leftover at the end of a meal that consist of perhaps 1 1/2 servings.  I used to put these into a container and stick them in the fridge where I would find them weeks later and would throw them out.  Now I take the leftover vegetables from a meal and dump them in this container in the freezer.  This will not work with leftover vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower.  If I am using canned vegetables for dinner or in a recipe, I always pour the vegetable water in this container also.  If I am making a roast and there is some leftover broth and meat, into the container it goes.  I have also added some limp celery and onion to this container.  You get the picture.

Then when the container is full I make vegetable soup.   I thaw the contents and dump it into a pot and survey how much "base" soup I have to work with.  I always keep canned broth on hand so I normally would add 1 can of beef broth to this.  Water and bouillon or soup base can be used in place of the broth.  Then I squirt in some ketchup, around two tablespoons or the same amount of tomato paste or tomato sauce.  Regarding the ketchup, if I have some in the bottom of a ketchup container I add a little water and shake it up and pour it into the pot or into the freezer container for later use.  This gives the soup a nice flavor. 

Usually the container has enough leftover vegetables in it so I usually don't have to add any to this mixture.  If there is not enough beef in the "base" mix I usually have a small amount of a frozen cooked roast beef  (again leftovers from a meal that would be about 1 1/2 servings) or I simply brown 1/2 lb. of hamburger.  To all of this I add 2 bay leaves and I let the concoction simmer slowly on the stove so the flavors can marry.

The result - homemade and frugal vegetable beef soup.

The above picture shows beef leftovers from a rump roast that we had for dinner the night before. 

A rump roast is a tough cut of meat.  However I am able to get it be pretty tender.  I cut the roast into about 6 chunks, dip them in a mixture of flour, pepper and garlic salt.  Then I brown these chunks in vegetable oil.  I remove the meat to a plate and then brown a sliced onion in the same pot.  I add the beef chunks with some water and I slowly (and I mean on a very low heat) let it cook.  The result is a tender beef that I serve sliced, with the juices, served over rice or with mashed potatoes.  We had this on Monday so with the leftover beef I made soup on Tuesday. 

My DS hates most vegetables but he loves this soup.  I love it as I do not waste any vegetables and broth that in small amounts do not appear as something you would think of keeping, but put together can be transformed into a tastey soup. Having this container in my freezer is very convenient. 

I served cuban bread with the soup this week.  If I choose not to put meat into it and just make a vegetable soup, I serve grilled cheese sandwiches along side it.

This soup always turns out great.  The one piece of advice I would give is to let the soup simmer for a while before you decide if you need to add other seasonings. I have added a little italian seasoning before for a different flavor and it was very good.

I remember a phrase that my grandmother used and it was "gather the fragments and use them up."

My family looks forward to this soup and it does not taste cheap.  It is flavorful and we never have leftovers of this soup.

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