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Techniques - Making use of Leftovers

DK PublishingDK Publishing 2/07/2014 DKBooks
Photo: Stale bread © Provided by DKBooks Stale bread

Chunks of cheese

Photo: Egg yolks and whites © Provided by DKBooks Egg yolks and whites

Leftover potatoes

Photo: Leftover cabbage © Provided by DKBooks Leftover cabbage

Leftover cabbage

Photo: Chunks of cheese © Provided by DKBooks Chunks of cheese

Egg yolks and whites

Photo: Leftover potatoes © Provided by DKBooks Leftover potatoes

Stale bread

Making use of Leftovers

However well we plan, we all have food left over at times. Cooked chicken and ham are obvious candidates for soup, but you can make good use of many other leftovers, too.

The ideal home for leftovers is in comforting rustic-style soups. Add the ingredient sparingly to begin with, then use your discrimination to decide on balance, texture, and seasoning. Recycling food calls for ingenuity and skill, so never give in to temptation and use your soup pot as a receptacle, or your soup-making skills will acquire a poor reputation. Here are some thrifty ideas for using leftovers.


Stale bread

Stale white bread is the perfect starting point for making croûtons and croûtes, which are a welcome addition to a wide range of soups. Processed in a blender or food processor to form bread crumbs, stale bread is also an essential ingredient in the chilled Spanish soup Gazpacho.


Cooked meat

Cooked chicken, turkey, and game are all excellent in soups, as is cooked ham. Cured meats such as chorizo and salami work equally well. In general, leftovers of red meats are not suitable for making soup, although the bones from cooked beef or lamb can go straight into the cooking pot for stock.


Eggs yolks and egg whites

Making use of leftover egg yolks is never a problem. Whisk them into a hot soup toward the end of cooking—they will thicken it and give a velvety texture. Although less versatile, leftover egg whites are useful for clarifying consommé.


Cooked vegetables

Cut into dice, shredded, or left whole if small like sweet corn and peas, cooked vegetables can be added to a soup just before serving and heated through. Alternatively, they can be popped in the blender along with the other ingredients and puréed.


Homemade gravy

Capitalize on gravy’s richness and depth of flavor by stirring it into meaty soups just before serving. If the sauce has acquired a skin since you first prepared it, carefully remove this beforehand with a slotted spoon.


Boiled pasta

Small pasta shapes that have been cooked but not covered in sauce can turn a simple soup into a square meal. Add leftover pasta at the last minute and then heat it through gently.


Scraps of cheese

Small chunks of Cheddar, Parmesan, and Gruyère never need go to waste when you make your own soups. Grate the cheese finely and use it to top croûtes. Broiled until golden brown and bubbling, these make a hearty topping for soups.


Red or white wine

A small glass of white wine splashed into a fish soup will help bring out the flavor of the seafood, while a little red wine added to a rich meaty soup will lend body and depth.


Cold potatoes

Cooked potatoes are a boon when making soups, since they give extra substance. Process them in the blender with the other ingredients or dice and add them to the pan just before serving and heat gently through.

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