We all have that moment when we open our freezer, fridge or pantry and realize it is time to clean house. Just like a closet, your food needs to be inspected and weeded out every six months or so. It is good to check your expiration dates, move items around that need to be cooked sooner and make a note of what you don’t need the next time you find yourself wandering the aisles of the grocery store. And this means saying no to the “10 for 10” deal on items your local grocery is trying to clean off THEIR shelves.
For some reason today I found myself trying to come up with something for lunch and the only thing that sounded good was soup. Fall just lends itself to soups, chilis, and stews to warm the belly when the temperature starts to fall outside. Today was no exception, and I knew I needed to clean out the pantry. Of course, I found a plethora of items that needed to be used before going bad. So I pulled several out of the pantry and came up with an idea for soup as a way to use them up. The great thing I love about making soups is you can throw just about anything together and make it taste good, so long as your ingredients are wholesome.
Today I had cannellini beans, dried porcini mushrooms, canned tomatoes, some frozen greens, a frozen bag of onions/peppers/celery, and some frozen “meatless” crumbles. I was feeling an Italian inspiration coming on with this one, considering the tomatoes, mushrooms, and beans were from Italy.
Basically, when you are making a soup from scratch you just cook each item in layers. So I started with the onion blend and some good olive oil on a medium-high heat. Once that was defrosted and sauteed a bit I added the meatless crumbles. I let that cook up a few minutes before adding the tomatoes, beans and then the vegetable broth. I had to let the dried mushrooms soak a bit in warm water before throwing in just a handful to the liquid. My seasonings were an Italian blend, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. I used roughly a teaspoon of the blend, 1/2 teaspoon of the garlic and a pinch of the remaining two. With soups, you need to let all the ingredients cook down a bit and simmer before adjusting your spices. My last go-to spice I use, thanks to my Mom, is Beau Monde seasoning. This is the best little gem to having in your cabinet, especially when it comes to soups and sauces. I can’t tell you what it is, but it really can pull all your seasonings together in the end of the cooking process. I use it all the time in my cooking.
With soups, you need to let all the ingredients cook down a bit and simmer before adjusting your spices. My last go-to spice I use, thanks to my Mom, is Beau Monde seasoning. This is the best little gem to having in your cabinet, especially when it comes to soups and sauces. My mom used this all the time in her recipes and passed this little secret on to me. A mixture made of salt, onion, and celery, can really pull all your seasonings together in the end of the cooking process. I am currently trying to use up my current jar so I can find an all natural version. The one I have used for years has a couple of hard-to-pronounce names in the ingredient list. I tend to steer clear of those when grocery shopping. I may try and make my own Beau Monde blend when I find the time!
For a soup with no name, it turned out pretty tasty and gave me a healthy lunch without spending a dime. Now I have some leftovers to get me through the weekend rush of activities. I am trying my best to stay healthy and true to myself and making soups from some great ingredients is a sure way to fill your belly while saving on excess calories and unhealthy fillers.
Now, the only thing to make it better is a good glass of wine…but that would be ringing Friday in a little too soon for this mom. If I had the chance, I would open up a nice Italian Chianti or Montepulciano. No need to worry about a specific year or vineyard. I would just find something that fits your budget but gives you a great punch on the tongue with the robust earthiness typically found in your Italian reds. At least that is what I often taste when presented with one, others may have a different viewpoint (which is perfectly fine in my wine-tasting opinion).
So I hope your next adventure in the kitchen whips up something tasty while cleaning out the shelves.
Until my next inspiration,