Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Something from Nothing | Refrigerator Soup

Way back when, a college friend was bragging to me about his mother's cooking and how much he missed it. (This is while we're wolfing down pizza and beer.) So I asked him what his mother made best, what did he miss the most. 

I was expecting him to get teary eyed over his mother's lasagna or her chocolate chip cookies or maybe her roast chicken or French silk pie. He thought for a long time before he finally answered and said, "Nothing in particular, really. She was just able to whip up something from nothing in no time at all. And it was always good.

"She'd just go into the fridge, gather a few things up, and -- Bingo! -- half an hour later, there'd be something delicious on the table."

Guess Rachel Ray had nothing on Mrs. Schwartz.

One of my favorite blogs to read (and cook from) is The Savoury Table by +Karen Harris. Something she does regularly is write a post about "something from nothing" -- those times when you just pull something together from what's on hand between the pantry and the fridge. That's where creativity happens, backed up perhaps by a bit of experience.

So, taking a lesson from Karen, I made this soup. It has a whole bunch of leftovers: leftover macaroni and cheese, some bacon left over from breakfast (imagine!) that went into the mac 'n cheese, and roasted broccoli from dinner the night before. Some chicken broth and a couple dollops of Greek yogurt pulled it all together in a soup that probably won't be repeated. 

Every couple weeks, a neighbor boy comes over for a cooking lesson. We've been doing this for about two years now. We've made all kinds of things, sweet and savory.  Meatballs, breaded chicken, cookie dough cupcakes, hand pies, beer bread, potato salad, pretzels. You name it, we've probably made it. He's learned how to measure correctly, to wash hands repeatedly, to chop, to saute, to make a roux. 

But every once in a while, when I run out of good ideas, lessons that can be taught in about an hour and a half, I'll wonder aloud, "What shall we cook this week?"

More than once, Mr Rosemary has said, "Why don't you teach him to make soup?"

"We've made soup," I've said. "We made wedding soup, white chicken chili, chicken tortilla soup."

"Not like that," he said. "You know, like you do. Something from nothing."

I'll have to think on that. 

In the meantime, my "refrigerator soup" was a great warmer upper on a snowy day.


  1. Looks really good, especially for a cold day. Sometimes something from nothing turns into something really special.

    1. Nine times out of 10, Sam, something from nothing does turn out well! I can't sto making soup this winter -- I may float away!

  2. I love Karen's blog. And I love her Something From Nothing feature. That's kind of the way I often make soup, too -- just open the refrigerator and peer in. Fun post. Love the bottom picture -- gorgeous light, a lot of really nice negative space, and excellent composition.

    1. I think many of us with blogs started out "documenting" our own stuff. A surprising big benefit is learning from other bloggers, real people who really cook, and really love food. Like I'll be trying your smoked brisket soon, John!

  3. It looks so satisfying and delicious! Love the last photo..very beautiful!

    1. It's also satisfying to transform dribs and drabs into something, Angie. Glad you like the photo -- I tried to hide the backhoe parked in front of the barn. Can't see it, can you ? :D

  4. Sounds like a good soup for a cold day, very tasty :D

    Choc Chip Uru

    1. I can't help making soup like this on a cold day, Uru. Actually, I could eat soup any time of year!


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