While I might LOATHE the winter and spend hours upon hours searching for spots where my boys can burn all of their pent-up energy, there is one great thing about it: SOUP SEASON. Not only do I love to eat soup, I love to make it because it is so incredibly easy to prepare. My favorite soup recipe? My unofficial “Clean Out the Fridge” soup. Yes, that’s right. I make a delicious soup weekly from Fall to Spring using vegetable scraps I find in my refrigerator and pantry. Yes, the flavor (and sometimes the color) might vary from week to week but my budget-friendly, easy-prep “Clean Out the Fridge” soup is ALWAYS a hit.
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“Clean Out the Fridge” Soup Prep
You know those recipes that you find on Pinterest that have 35 ingredients like that you never hand on hand such as saffron or truffle butter? This is NOT that kind of recipe. But if you want making soup to be an easy process that you look forward to (I swear it is my Sunday therapy), there are a few essentials that you should have on hand.
None of these are very expensive and you can find them all at your local Target, which makes soup that should be in each and every parents’ meal arsenal.
Garlic Rocker (it’s so much better than a typical press!)
“Clean Out the Fridge” Soup Base
Just like with any recipe, you need a good base if you want to have a delicious finished product. For soup, the magical base is garlic, onions, and chicken (or vegetable) broth. Everything else is gravy. But don’t actually put gravy IN your soup because that would be nasty. As long as you saute your garlic and onions in olive oil, sprinkling in some salt and pepper, you can be confident that you will have a great base.
“Clean Out the Fridge” Soup Ingredients
You might be thinking, “But Amanda, what is my soup going to TASTE like?” if there isn’t a specific ingredients list. As long as you use vegetables, broth, and a dash of tomato sauce/paste/etc, you will have a delicious soup that is similar to minestrone. And let’s be honest–it doesn’t get much better than homemade minestrone on a winter day, am I right?!?!
Here’s where the fun begins—checking your fridge and pantry for ingredients that you can add to your soup! While some might be obvious like carrots and celery, you would also get creative with your additions to not only clear out food that needs to go, but also adds extra flavor like that piece of cooked bacon left over from breakfast.
Don’t forget to saute’ your vegetables until soft before you add the liquid to your soup or else you will have very raw and crunchy vegetables in your soup. Once your vegetables are cooked and the broth that you have added your liquids and brought them to a boil, you can add ingredients such as cooked proteins and grains.
Lastly, try to finish off your soup with herbs (and a splash of pasta sauce–I swear by Prego!) to bring all the flavors together.
Potential “Clean Out the Fridge” Soup Ingredients:
- Sweet Potatoes
- Green Beans
- Cooked Bacon
- Cooked Sausage
- Cooked Ham
- Cooked Chicken
- Cooked Beef
- Cooked Pork
- Cooked Shrimp
- Cooked Turkey
- Cooked Rice
- Cooked Pasta
- Canned tomatoes
- Tomato Sauce
- Pasta Sauce
- Hot Sauce
The possibilities are endless! Just be sure to have enough broth on hand to mix it all together, and constantly taste your soup as you are cooking to ensure that the seasoning is correct. Soup tasting a bit off? Add salt and some dried (or fresh if you have them) herbs such as Italian seasoning which tastes amazing in just about ALL soups.
I like to serve this soup with bread or a sandwich to make it even heartier. Only have the butt of the bread loaf left? No worries! Simply use a cookie cutter to create a shaped piece of bread (I prefer to do stars because it is a hit with my kiddos and is easy to make), toast it up, and serve alongside the soup. Bonus points if you have any extra cheese laying around and use some to turn the bread into a grilled cheese or just to garnish your “Clean Out the Fridge” soup.
Looking for other easy and family-friendly recipes? I have you covered with these favorites!
Happy Soup Season!
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