Leftover Mashed Potatoes Make Great Soup…

It doesn’t matter who we’re having or what we’re eating, if I’m cooking for more than our little clan, I just can’t get the amount right.  Faced with a holiday dinner, I routinely make about twice what is actually required, sure that I may not be making enough.  In my mind every guest is a 14 year old athlete with a limitless metabolism and elastic waistband.

Thus our recent Thanksgiving dinner left us with a giant container of mashed potatoes in the fridge.  Now normally I am just fine with lots of mashed potatoes around, but truth to tell I am the only REAL mashed potato fanatic in the house.  Mr. Little Sis likes them, but can’t eat them for days and the kids are just not into them at all – there’s only so much a girl can do faced with all that mash.  I hated to think of it going to waste… surely there is another way.

While I could have made mashed potato pancakes, we’d had latkes just a few nights before, so no dice there. After being tired, cold, and a little lonely after the long weekend playing games and watching movies with the family, soup just seemed like the thing to do.  And what could be easier than making soup from mashed potatoes, especially if you have a leek.  This really doesn’t merit a recipe, but I’ll write it out that way to make it easy to follow.  You’re welcome.

Leftover Mashed Potato Leek Soup with Wilted Spinach and Basil

  • olive oil for the potIMG_0404
  • 1 leek, white and light green parts cleaned and chopped *
  • 4 cups mashed potatoes (I used these non-dairy beauties)
  • 2 c water
  • 1/2 t salt
  • fresh ground pepper
  • 1 c coconut milk (or whatever you prefer)
  • olive oil for the pan
  • About 5 ounces of fresh spinach (or as much or little as you like – it DOES shrink a lot)
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced or pressed
  • small handful of fresh basil, chopped

* Leeks are dirty little suckers.  When they grow up through the soil, they bring quite a bit with them, trapped in the layers.  Cleaning them can be tricky.  I simply cut the portion of the leek I intend to use into quarters  the long way.  I think place those quarters (they will separate – it’s okay) into a bowl of water, let them sit while I prepare other bits, swish them around and then rinse.  Works like a charm, every time, and I learned it at fancy cooking school, so it must be right, right? 😉 I can say that the bowl of water is always cloudy and dirty – so it seems to do the trick.

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Warm olive oil in the bottom of a soup or stock pot, place chopped leeks and a sprinkle of salt in pot, sautéing and stirring occasionally until the leeks are tender and the white parts are a little translucent. Add the mashed potatoes and stir to combine.  Add water and salt and stir to combine. Here’s where we’re gonna have some variation.  If your mashed potatoes were perfectly cooked, had no lumps and were smooth as silk, you will only need to bring your pot of yum up to temp.  If, like most of us, your potatoes were delicious but slightly less than perfect, you may want to bring the pot to a gentle boil to cook the potatoes just a little bit as the flavors mingle.  When potatoes have reached the texture you prefer, add the coconut (or whatever) milk and ground pepper.  While the soup comes back up to temp, prepare the spinach.

Warm olive oil to low-medium in a pan (I used cast iron). Add spinach, a sprinkle of salt, and the garlic to the pan.  Turn/stir spinach frequently to encourage wilting throughout.  When nearly all wilted, add the fresh basil. Stir for a little while longer. When all spinach is wilted and bright green, remove from heat.

Serve soup with a few forkfuls of spinach, some lovely bread (ours was a non-dairy apple cheddar quick bread which I’ll share soon), and a salad.  Delicious, satisfying, and a great way to use too much comfort food. Hope your holiday provided you with memories, laughter, and leftovers you love to eat over and over again.

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Soup De Doo!

Everyone I’ve talked to in the last week or so has at least one person in their house who’s sneezing, coughing, hacking, and otherwise feeling miserable.  Both of the Sis sisters have been plagued as well. In my house, all four of us fell to this school born scourge.  And so, while appetites have not been hearty around here lately, we do seem to agree on the goodness of soup.  All soup, any soup, warm wonderful soup.  The fact that we had our first TRUE cold weather of the season only made the call for soup more compelling.

I’m assuming we are not the only coughers and hackers out there, so I thought I’d pause for a moment to do a bit of a soup tour.  But why, you might wonder, why worry so much about soup  recipes when there is nearly an entire aisle full of prepared soups waiting for me at the grocery store? There are many reasons why we prefer homemade to “factory” soup (my nephew’s designation). Canned soup is extremely high in sodium, when the label says low sodium, it means it’s lower than the salt lick next to it.  Canned soup also contains MSG (a good one to avoid according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest) even when it says it doesn’t, apparently.  Canned soup contains a plethora of unnecessary preservatives and unusual ingredients (like monster carrots and celery) that are in that can solely because it is a highly, and violently processed, canned food.  Finally, canned soup is expensive.  No, it’s not the most expensive thing you can buy, but compared to homemade soup, which can be one of the most frugal meal choices you can make, it costs a fortune.

So for all you coughers and hackers, all you frugal home cooks, all you folks who are feeling the first signs of winter, I bring you Soup De Doo!

Soups for Healing

   

1. Cold Kickin’ Soup –  My go to choice for headcolds and other respiratory yuck.

2. Shweet Potato Stew – Super soothing anti-inflammatory sweet potatoes with fantastic flavors.

3. Lentil, Mushroom and Sweet Potato Soup – Warming broth with healing mushrooms and anti-inflammatory sweet potatoes.  Greens for added nutrish and power protein lentils.

Crock Pot Wonders

 

 1. Slow Cooker Vegetable, Bean and Barley Stew – So easy, so delish.

2. Slow Cooker Creamy Tomato Soup (DF) – You know you miss that tomato soup – you don’t have to.

3. Slow Cooker Creamed Lentil Soup – A surprising and simple slow cooker soup.

Twisted Classics

1. Roasted Butternut Squash Soup – Roasting the veggies brings out their sweetness.

2. Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup – Wild rice is so great in soup – never mushy.

3. Bellywarming American Black Bean Soup – We always think of Southwest flavors for black bean soup – this twist reminds us that black beans are very versatile.

Ready for a great big bowl of soup? I know I am (sniffle, hack, cough).  Be well, and get better before the gathering extravaganza begins!

Bellywarming American Black Bean Soup

Have I mentioned that I LOVE soup? What could be better on these increasingly chilly days than a big bowl of warm and delicious? While I’ve shared quite a few soups with you (you’ll see they have their own category on the sidebar), I’ve admittedly been in a bit of a soup rut.  My Go To soups are really delicious, but after a while, the kids “THAT one again?” resonates a little too deeply.  I’ve gotten a little tired of my faves, and so went a wandering, with too little time for prep and a well stocked pantry. Problem solved.

Apparently it is possible to make black bean soup that is not Southwestern.  It had never occurred to me, despite my bean friendliness, to use those guys for a different flavor profile – talk about being in a rut! Once again my friend Deborah Madison (perhaps I should just call these posts Little Sis and Deborah), showed me the way out of my self-inflicted black bean tunnel vision.

IMG_0270Ms. Madison suggests a simple American styled black bean soup, and with a few adjustments it worked stupendously for Mr. Little Sis and I. After the whole crew tasted it, with lackluster response, Mr. Little Sis and I decided that since the kids had passed on it anyway, we would in fact add the bit of Madeira called for in the original version, and boy howdy was it great, even with my radically shortened cooking time.  This one would go gangbusters in a slow cooker. I finished the last bowl tonight and am happy to report that, as with so many soups, it’s even better after a few days.

American Black Bean Soup – adapted for speed and dairy considerations from Deborah Madison’s Black Bean Soup in Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

  • olive oil for the potIMG_0263
  • 2 c onion, chopped
  • 1 c celery, chopped
  • 1 c carrot, chopped small
  • 2 c green pepper chopped small
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 4 t chopped rosemary
  • 2 t dried thyme
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 4 c black beans, soaked, cooked and drained or drained and rinsed from cans
  • 4 quarts water
  • leftover grains if desired (I used 1.5 c cooked brown rice)
  • salt to taste
  • 1 c Madeira
  • 1 c coconut milk (or cream)
  • chopped parsley

Warm oil in the pot.  Add onions and saute for a few minutes.  Add the rest of the veggies and herbs and cook until the color deepens a bit. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for an additional minute.  Add the beans and the water. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer, partially covered for at least 20 minutes.  Add salt to taste and grains if using.  Cook and additional 5 minutes.  Remove bay leaves and puree as much of the soup as your textural preferences dictate.  A smoother puree can be achieved in a blender, but I don’t like to do all that pouring of hot soup, so I use an immersion blender.  Add Madeira and coconut milk (or cream if you do moo). Serve with chopped parsley.  Wow.  So simple, so delish.  Perfect wholesome antidote for Halloween’s madness.

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Halloween Madness

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Lentil, Mushroom, and Sweet Potato Soup (GF,V)

You know how we feel about lentils around here…  OR, if you’re new and you don’t, I’d like to send you here first before you then do a search on lentils and see how ridiculously fond we are of this little protein and fiber packed cheap meal makin’ legume.  Lately our weather has been driving my food cravings and after our recent spate of unseasonably warm weather (leading to Cold Sesame Noodle perfection), we’ve had a predictably unpredictable Mid-Atlantic weather shift to slightly cooler than average with rain – lots and lots of rain.  Not much better remedy for wet and damp days than soup.

And so we turn to our humble pantry staple, the lentil. This soup is great because it doesn’t require that much in terms of super fresh food, but packs a nutritious and flavorful punch.  I found it on Dr. Weil’s site after doing some basic searching for soups.  He apparently got it somewhere else.  I’ve done a little tinkering – out of necessity rather than critique. I’d encourage you to do the same.  Soup can be very forgiving and is a great place to use up veggies that are on the verge of being unusable. Continue reading

Gingery Sweet Potato Black bean soup

Wow!  It’s been awhile since I’ve posted!  Little Sis and I have another project up our sleeves and she’s been holding down the fort with incredible food and garden posts while I’ve been working on our other project.  It is so nice being part of a team – especially with Little Sis!

Seems like lately I have found myself elaborating on our own creations rather than starting from scratch or adapting other people’s brilliance to my palate (or ingredient list).  In fact I am going to have to write another post with updates and twists on some of our recipes…. the least we can do is tell you if we figured out how to make it easier or better, right?

Besides busy-ness, an additional test to my culinary creativity is that Mr Bigg Sis has now been advised to avoid tomatoes, peppers, soy and corn as well as dairy and wheat.  You’re killing me Mr. Integrative-Physician-Man!   Did he provide us any recipes?  No.  However, he is a nice man, and, as is true to the name of the blog, a peep in the pantry revealed some ingredients calling to be introduced, or thrown into a speed dating situation with an old stand-by to see what kind of lasting relationship might result.  I think a cooking show should take up the speed dating of ingredients idea to find new interesting pairings, but then again, I’m a little strange 🙂

Looking for love or not, sweet potatoes are always a good starting point for me.  I thought I’d build on Shweet Potato Stew by adding some new ingredients and flavors.  I’m happy to report that a second date is definitely in the offing and while I don’t like to rush anyone, all sides apparently see the potential for lasting bliss.  The result? Continue reading

SOTW: Crock Pot Creamed Lentil Soup

Yeah, I know we have lentil problems.  A lentil fixation.  A lentil leaning, as it were.  The truth is that lentils may well be the perfect legume, hearty full of all the goodness that the legume family can bring, but so very forgiving because they are so small.  Didn’t soak?  Bah.  Running out of time?  Never fear.  Lentils are the home cook’s best friend.   Lentils are easy, cheap, delicious, nutritious, and friendly to those of us who are a little lacking in the planning department.  If you haven’t drunk the kool-aid (and I am speaking purely figuratively here because I really, really don’t want you to drink kool-aid) on lentils with us before, it is high time that you did. Continue reading

SOTW: Slow Cooker Vegetable, Bean and Barley Stew

I have fallen totally in love with my slow cooker.  It’s true.  I’ve not yet branched out into non-soup/stew type dishes yet, although Pinterest assures me these options are plentiful.  But to be honest I LOVE soup and while it’s still chilly enough to justify a big steaming bowl of it, I see no reason to move out of the category for the time being.  My six year old twins had their last swim class for this session on Tuesday and despite the slightly warmer than average temperatures last week, they still emerged from the indoor pool with blue lips, chattering teeth, and decidedly tortured dispositions.  I warmed them up in the shower only to have them get cold again walking from the changing room to the car.  Once again I was so very delighted to come home to a big warm Crock Pot full of yumminess.  A few simple directions, and you can have one too.  🙂  The soup of the week (yes, I realize it’s not always once a week, many pardons) is a simple and insanely flavorful vegetable, bean and barley stew. Continue reading

SOTW: Slow Cooker Tomato Soup

What could be better on a chilly day than a hot bowl of tomato soup?  I have an answer to that – on a chilly day, the only thing better than a hot bowl of tomato soup is a hot bowl of tomato soup that is waiting for you, nearly complete, when you walk in the door with two pool-soaked “freezing cold” six year old swimmers.

I should confess that as a child I was never a tomato soup eater – the ever present Campbell’s soup can didn’t do a thing for me, but Mr. Little Sis was a huge fan.  I was always happy to simply eat the grilled cheese that usually accompanied a great bowl of tomato soup.  As my love affair with the tomato became a permanent state, however, I’ve given this simple dish another chance.  In the past I found that creamy versions usually were my preference, but in more recent days, I’ve avoided creamy soup.  What to do?

I was confident someone on the vast internet had conquered the creamy tomato soup with no cream conundrum, and lo and behold, I was correct.  I stumbled onto a recipe that uses beans to thicken, fortify, and give soup some body.  Being the me that I am, I took the recipe to heart and promptly began changing it to meet my increasingly particular standards. 😉  The result was a creamy and flavorful soup that was warming to the toes, each bite full of tomato goodness.  Smoked paprika evokes roasted goodness and smoky warmth.  So flavorful, and so perfectly simple. Continue reading

Shweet Potato Stew

Oh is there no end to the wonderfulness of the sweet potato?

“I yam what I yam,” she replies coyly from her bed in the soil.  “You dig?”

Oh I do dig – well not literally, not yet anyway.  I have not attempted to grow sweet potatoes but I should because they are so versatile and good for you, and so darn shweet.  I am afraid to count how many posts Little Sis and I have written about sweet potatoes.  If I count we might have to change the name of our blog to My Sister’s Sweet Potatoes… and that’s a little un-savory.  And that translates to a little Shweet, don’t you think?

This stew tastes complex but it’s quite simple and I know we will be eating it again real soon.  It definitely falls in the category B on Baby Step 7 of recipes that don’t take long but do require a cooking time component.  If you need it faster or Category A of fast, healthy dinners, you could either microwave your sweet potatoes first, or cook them on a day when you have time and keep  in the fridge until you’re ready to make the stew.

The lumpy orange shtew was a big hit (once again – I’m on a roll) with the now TWELVE year old boy, and would have passed the “wants to have it in the thermos for lunch at school test” had there been any left.  We ate all but a measly little portion that nobody could stuff in.

This is based on a recipe by Mark Bittman in the New York Times. Continue reading

SOTW: Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup

While it is sunny and lovely today, we’ve just come through a long spell of cold, colder, and then (my personal fave) cold and wet.  My soup pot has taken up permanent residence on the stove.  There is, simply put, nothing better than soup on a cold day.  Warms the belly and soothes a grouchy spirit (at least it does mine).  So we’ve been having soup as often as I think I can get away with it.  We have one soup detractor in the bunch – yes, the same detractor that I site for most other food groups, but the rest of us really do enjoy a hot bowl of yum.

IMG_8711This particular soup was so delicious, and so simple, that I am declaring it the Soup Of The Week so that I can share it with you with the appropriate verbal fanfare.  The  broth is so warm and comforting and the wild rice adds so much texture and nuttiness that I may just have to make another batch.  I’d thought I’d made enough to freeze some, but the soup’s popularity defeated that plan. Continue reading