Combine Leftovers to Create Soup Magic

October 1, 2013

Thumbs down on leftovers at CHEFScatalog.comAmong the rewards you enjoy after cooking a delicious repast, is indulging in the leftovers. But, if you’re like me, having the same exact thing a day later can be a bit monotonous. And, more often than not, some member of the family will turn a "thumbs down" on leftovers. However, a true chef finds creative ways to modify those leftovers to create entirely new meals!

What better way to appreciate your kitchen handiwork than to savor it for days afterward? In fact, I try to create more than enough food just so I can have remainders to play with.

One of the best ways to use your leftovers is to turn them into a tasty soup. In most cases, the transformation is simplicity itself.

Planning for the future

Duralex Storage Containers at CHEFScatalog.comAs you learn the art of planning for leftovers, one thing to consider is the kind of containers you store your meals in until using them again. While plastic containers can be very useful, they can also take on an ugly pallor from overuse, may not adequately protect your leftovers, and can add an odd “plasticky” flavor to your food.

As an alternative, consider using mason/canning jars or other glass containers. If you don’t plan to keep your leftovers more than a day or two, simply wrapping your bowl or plate with aluminum foil and sticking it in the refrigerator can often be a satisfactory option, also.

Embracing leftovers

Now that you have storage methods that maintain the epicurean quality of your meals, it’s time to start getting creative. Many think of leftovers as something to be gotten rid of, or as brown bag filler for the office the next day. Instead, look at leftovers as yet another opportunity to test your cooking ideas and curiosities.

Spices were first coveted by Europeans, who traveled the globe in search of them because of their ability to change or mask the flavor of leftovers and—sometimes—even spoiled or rotten food. Fortunately, you won’t likely have to worry about spoiled or rotten food, but using spices to alter or completely change the taste of older fare is still valid.

Maybe there’s a spice you’ve always wanted to try in your cooking, but you were afraid or unsure about what kind of flavor profile it would add. Leftover transformation, using your kitchen as a laboratory, can be the perfect opportunity to try these spices.

  • Rework a leftover chicken and pasta dish into an Asian soup by heating up some broth and adding spices like ginger and cumin.
  • Take a leftover meatloaf, mash it up, add some finely chopped vegetables and a little salt, pepper, oregano, and basil, and turn it into meatballs that you can use in a soup or pasta dish.

Turning leftovers into soup

The Magic of Soup and Leftovers at CHEFScatalog.comWith leftovers, let your imagination run wild! Especially when it comes to turning them into soups, stews, or chilis. Soup is a stellar endgame for all kinds of foods, spices, and culinary creativity. Pretty much anything you make—or anything you take home from a restaurant for that matter—can be “souped.” It’s the magic of soup.

Here’s a great example: This recipe for classic beef chili calls for lean ground beef. Why not try grinding up some leftover steak, or even pork chops, and using them as a substitute?

Soups are very adaptable. In most instances you can switch out one type of meat for another. So if you’re in the mood for a traditional Mexican posole, but you don’t have any pork on hand, that chicken from last night’s fajitas may serve just as well. And a Brunswick stew will be just as delicious with some Thanksgiving turkey as it is with chicken.

Making the best use of your leftovers

Our lives, too often, are busy and rushed. Unfortunately, there isn’t always enough time to put a meal together that is both filling and appetizing for lunch. Leftovers to the rescue!

Your turn: What main meal makes great leftovers? Share on CHEFScatalog.com.When you make your original meal, prepare extra so you can take it with you to work the next day as a soup. It doesn’t need to be as complicated—just keep some chicken, beef, or vegetable stocks in your pantry and use them as the base of a soup whenever appropriate.

Leftovers and soup. Ahh—a marriage made in heaven. Both can engage a chef’s sense of innovation. So let your imagination and your appetite run wild.

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Tags: Soups, Leftovers, Never Burn Sauce Pot, Storage

Categories: Tips & Advice