One of the lessons I return to again and again when teaching Cooking Matters courses, is the idea of planning for leftovers. One way to do so is to make large batches of certain foods say on a Sunday for the express purpose of feeding the family in the subsequent days. Another way of looking at leftovers is to have a few recipes (or more accurately, techniques and concepts) that you can readily turn to when you find your fridge full of leftovers that you hadn't necessarily counted on.
When presented with that fridge full of unused goodies, there are three dishes that always come to mind as an excellent means to clean-house, stir-fry, soup and frittata. As long as you have a few staples in your pantry such as rice for the stir-fry, eggs for the frittata, and stock for the soup, you can get creative with just about any leftovers you might have, and with a few minutes work craft any one of these dishes.
A few weeks back we found our normal dinner contingent cut in half by sport practices and games and so a meal that should have consumed two rotisserie chickens only used one leaving the other ripe for a creative culinary makeover. A quick scan of the fridge turned up some carrots, dill, and kale, and when I found bags of frozen edamame and barley in the freezer, I knew we were in for a delicious soup. Barley is something that I always cook in large batches, and either use later in the week as a bed for roasted vegetables, or as an adjunct to salads. Whatever is left after a few days gets tossed in the freezer as it holds beautifully, and is always great to have on hand in a pinch.
This soup came together in no time at all, and was made even better with the addition of a parmesan rind I found while foraging through the freezer. The rind adds a nice umami richness to the dish, so the next time you've grated your parm all the way to the rind, throw it in a ziplok in the freezer until you make some soup. Toss the whole piece in when you set the soup to simmer, and you'll be amazed at the results.
Cheers – Steve
- 4 carrots, peeled and sliced on a bias
- 1 Vidalia (or other sweet) onion, minced
- 1 bunch kale, washed, stripped of tough stems and roughly chopped
- 8 ounces shelled edamame beans
- 5 ribs of celery, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 1/2 cups cooked pearled barley
- 2 bay leaves
- 8 cups chicken stock
- 1 rotisserie chicken, de-boned, and the meat shredded
- 2 large sprigs fresh dill, stemmed and minced
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 - 15 ounce can diced tomatoes with their juices
- parmesan cheese rind (optional)
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- In a large stock pot heat a slick of EVOO over medium heat, then add the onion and cook until translucent. Add the carrots and cook another 5 minutes.
- Add the celery and kale and season with salt, pepper and cumin. Cook and stir for 2-3 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients (except the dill and edamames), bring the soup to a boil, then turn the heat down to a simmer.
- Cook for 10 minutes, then toss in the edamames and cook for another 10 minutes or so. When the carrots are done to your liking, do a final check for seasoning, then remove from the heat and add the fresh dill.
- Ladle into warm bowls and enjoy with a fresh green salad and a loaf of warm, crusty bread.