CHEF JEFF: One Byte At A Time — Once Around the Kitchen Vegetable Soup

Leftovers. Almost all families have them, and they can pose a dilemma — if you let them. But creative cooks know that their limitations are endless.

Perhaps the best use I can think of for leftovers is a pot of soup. Consider that roast chicken or beef that you had for Sunday dinner. Either would be a great starter for soup. Or those those leftover vegetables. Put together three or four days of leftovers, and the soup you make could be dinner for the whole family.

That concept harkens to the day when most workers were paid on Fridays, so Thursday night’s dinner was often thrown together with what was left in the refrigerator or the cupboard.

The following recipe kind of fits that mold. A few days ago, for supper, we had a side of whole-kernel corn that I had blanched and froze last fall. A day or two later, I grabbed a winter squash from our “cold room” in the basement to go with smoked chicken we were having for supper. I used both the leftover squash and corn in soup.

Besides those leftovers, I used some frozen chicken broth and vegetable stock saved from previous meals. The vegetable stock was combination of water that was left over from steaming some corn and also some potato water. (I hardly ever use just plain tap water in my soups.) To make it even more like “Thursday Night Soup,” I grabbed some pearled barley from the cupboard, a pint of whole tomatoes from the panty, a home-grown onion and a couple of stalks of celery from the refrigerator.

It’s amazing what you can come up with when you use your imagination.

Once Around the Kitchen Vegetable Soup
2 carrots, sliced ½-inch thick
2 cups green/yellow beans or 1 14½-ounce can green beans
1 cup whole kernel corn
1 medium onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
½ cup pearled barley
1 to 2 cups cooked winter squash
1 pint whole tomatoes or 1 14½-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 cup chicken broth
5 cups vegetable stock
1 teaspoon herbes de Provence
Salt and pepper to taste
Place all ingredients in stock pot and cook until vegetables are done. Serve with cornbread.

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