pantry meals

fridge clean-out minestrone

autumn, dinner, lunch, main dishes, soups, spring, vegan, vegetarian, winterRachel SandersComment
fridge clean-out minestrone | field + forest

One of my New Year's resolutions from like, 2012, was to get better at using up all of the odds and ends that accumulate in our fridge. For the most part, we've failed. We still fill up a little compost container with past-their-prime veggies/fruits/cheese ends/what have you every month or so. 

But, had I known the recipe for building this skill was one part Richard saying "I want soup" and two parts us being too lazy to travel 2.5 blocks to the store, we might have cracked this fridge clean-out thing a loooong time ago.

I feel funny sometimes when I share these kinds of recipes with you because they aren't flashy or profound or beautifully styled. This is base-level practicality at its core. But geez, there is so much gorgeous food inspiration among the cookbooks and the Instagram and the Pinterest that I sometimes really need someone to slap me across the face and say "put down the pea shoots and make some goddamn food with what you goddamn have."

(I picture this someone as one (or both) of my economical depression-era grandmas, which makes me feel happy in spite of the slapping.)

I'm guessing your fridge looks different than my fridge, and since this is about making the most of what's available to you in the moment, you shouldn't feel constrained by amounts of things or by particular ingredients. An onion, some olive oil, an acid, and maybe a little meat will be enough to carry any veggies pretty far along, and you can even get away with using water if you don't have veggie/chicken/beef broth hanging out somewhere. This soup will not be French Laundry soup by any means but it will be inexpensive and healthy and nourishing and soul-satisfying and delicious.

Pretty much everything we need.

fridge clean-out minestrone | field + forest
fridge clean-out minestrone | field + forest

olive oil
2 leeks, halved lengthwise, cut into 1/4-inch slices, and rinsed (white and light green parts only), OR 1 large onion, chopped
1 bunch carrots (~5 carrots) (alternately, use parsnips/sweet potatoes/what have you), peeled and cut into 1/4-inch slices
3 cloves garlic, chopped
a few sprigs of thyme or 1 of rosemary
1/2 cup dry white wine
6 cups broth, water, or a mixture of broth and water
1 can chickpeas (alternately, use cannellini beans or other canned/cooked beans), drained and rinsed
1 cup ditalini (or other small) pasta (alternately, break up long pasta into small pieces)
1/2 bunch red Russian kale, chopped (alternately, other robust greens, chopped, or whole leaf baby spinach)
black pepper
zest and juice of 1/2 a lemon
(optional: cooked sausage, bacon, or shredded cooked chicken)

To serve: shaved parmesan, red pepper flakes, olive oil

In a pot set over medium-low heat, melt a small knob of butter (a tablespoon or so) and add a quick swig of olive oil. Add the leeks (or chopped onion) along with a pinch of salt and sauté, stirring frequently, until they become soft and translucent. Add the carrots and garlic and cook for 5  (adding more oil or butter if the vegetables are sticking to the pot) until the carrots are just beginning to soften.

Turn the heat up to medium and add the wine. Let the wine cook down until the pan is almost dry again, then add the water or broth. Bring the pot to a boil, add the chickpeas and pasta, and cook for 5 minutes. Lower the heat to maintain a brisk simmer, add the kale, and continue to cook until the greens have softened and the pasta is al dente. (If you are including leftover cooked meat in your soup, add it along with the kale.)

Taste the soup and season with more salt, a little pepper, and the lemon zest and juice. Serve immediately, with shaved parmesan, red pepper flakes, and olive oil on the side.

fridge clean-out minestrone | field + forest

pantry pea velouté with curry and lemon

autumn, soups, spring, summer, vegetarian, winterFieldandForestComment

This week has been a flurry of travels, family time, dog adventures, stresses, cooking, and happiness.  And then, like that, we slowed things down for just a moment and I woke up sniffly and headachy and car-runneth-me-over-y.  I am not very good at caring for myself when I am sick; I am better at caring for others, by way of soup, tea, entertainment (in the form of 2nd grade-level jokes and/or interpretive dance moves), and collaborative movie-watching.  When I am sick, there is little I feel like doing other than couching-it hardcore, eating toast, and watching reruns of Gilmore Girls.

Those kinds of things are cathartic, and they also help you forget that you are in a house which is lacking in groceries and general stuff that makes sick people better.  This makes for a sad 5 minutes of shuffling around the kitchen while wrapped babushka-style in a blanket. But, after a little scrounging, maybe you find a bag of frozen peas.  Some butter.  An old onion, and a little curry powder. Plus a lonely fridge lemon. And you think, hey, I could totally make soup with this.  So you do. And it kind of rocks.

And you feel better.

(And you call your soup "velouté" because it helps you to feel fancy in spite of your red nose and raging case of bedhead.)

Pantry Pea Velouté with Curry and Lemon
This recipe is very loosely based on an amazing soup that my Aunt Diane makes regularly.  Her version has half-and-half, but I've made it before with whole milk or coconut milk (so creamy, so vegan) and loved it just as much.  Dealer's choice on this one.  Also, apologies in advance for all the notes by the ingredients, though I hope they make you confident in your ability to make this soup since apparently you can forget almost 30% of the ingredients and have it still be awesome.

2 tablespoons butter, ghee, or coconut oil 1 onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (omit if making GF)
1 tablespoon curry powder
4 cups chicken stock, vegetable stock, or water (I used water this time, which gives you a clean, bright soup, albeit with less depth)
1 large pinch kosher salt
1 large pinch sugar (optional; I forgot to add this, and I didn't really miss it... though keep in mind my nose is stopped up)
1 pound frozen peas (equivalent to 1 bag)
1/2 pound frozen spinach (again, I forgot this... whoops)
1/2-1 cup half-and-half, whole milk, or coconut milk (yup, didn't add this either)
lemon juice, to taste

Melt the butter, ghee, or coconut oil in a pot over medium-low heat.  Add the chopped onion and sauté, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens and becomes translucent (5-7 minutes).  Add the flour and curry powder to the onions, and stir continuously for a couple of minutes while the flour cooks.  Add a little stock or water and stir up any flour stuck to the bottom of your pan, then add the rest of the stock, the salt, and the sugar (if using), and let everything simmer for 5 minutes.

Add the frozen peas and spinach (if using) to the pot, and let everything simmer for 15 minutes.  Take the pot off of the heat, and purée the soup using a stand blender or immersion blender.  Add the half-and-half, whole milk, or coconut milk, and stir to combine.  Taste soup, and add lemon juice for brightness and additional salt if necessary.

Optional garnishes - I've had this with buttered croutons (amazing), creme fraîche (amazing), and lemon yogurt (yummmmmy).  The soup in the picture is topped with yogurt mixed with a little lemon juice and some piment d'Espelette for color and a smidge of heat (just in case you were wondering!).