TONY J BENDER: That’s Life — How About Something Light?

If you’re like me, you stock up on sale items. It’s good habit to have. So, even before the pandemic and social distancing, I’ve had a full pantry. The novelty of Schwann’s offerings, as good as they are, has worn off, and I wanted to make something hearty and healthy.

So “Whatever is in the Pantry Vegetable Soup,” it is.

If you’ve got fresh vegetables, great, but canned works fine, too. I had a beautiful red onion, leftover nuked potatoes and leftover steamed cauliflower on hand. I added a couple varieties of canned beans, chopped tomatoes, beets (for color as much as anything), green beans and corn and probably some other things I’ve forgotten. There are no rules in my kitchen. But you must sign a waiver.

If you didn’t have beans and taters, rice would work, too. This out of my mom’s playbook. She’s a brilliant alchemist — with six kids she had to be. She could probably turn lead into gold if she put her mind to it.

I started with vegetable stock, which I had on hand because I get a lot of vegetarians in the house, but beef stock, bullion cubes etc., work great, too.

Since I’m a carnivore — when I eat, something must die — I added two cans of chicken breast. Fresh is better. If they were in season, I could knock off a pheasant. One of them was “Buffalo Wings-flavored” because I wasn’t watching what I picked out. But no harm done. I adhere to the Hippocratic oath. Or Hammurabi’s Code. One of those.

Hamburger or any beef would be great, but I’m saving what I have, as Grandma used to say when she put her Christmas gifts in the attic, “for nice.”

I didn’t drain the cans of vegetables because, hey, it’s vegetable stock, right?

Spices? A little parsley. I wish I had celery. It’s almost mandated that you use Old Bay in everything these days. Or Old Spice. One of those, but I lean toward the former. Just a dash. Sea salt or Himalayan salt, and fresh ground pepper if you have it. Splurge if you don’t.

Like any good soup or stew or chili, it’s always better the next day, so make a vat. Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble and all that jazz. Eye of Newt is almost impossible to find, though. Step up, Hornbacher’s.

If you’re not starving, cook it low and slow. Smells great. Beats the heck out of a Yankee Candle.

A little cream and vinegar is a nice touch when you serve it. Old school.

Tony writes two weekly columns; this one appears in weeklies in North Dakota and South Dakota and in some dailies. Bender owns two newspapers in Ashley and Wishek, N.D. www.mcintosh-star-tribune.com. He also writes an exclusive weekly column for Forum Communications.

© Tony Bender, 2020

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