You can make delicious soups and stews using things left over from other meals. This is an economical and nutritious way to make use of the last of the roast chicken or beef, some vegetables in the crisper that are nearing their limit, a few canned items you may have around. How to put them together is your creative choice!
The basic idea is to chop an onion or two and sauté it in olive oil. Add some chopped garlic if desired. Add this to a soup pot. Beyond this the idea is to add whatever else you have around to the pot, chopped into small pieces, to simmer and share the individual flavors into a unified taste.
Use leftover meat, sliced into tiny pieces and add to the soup pot. Add leftover vegetables, or slice fresh ones and add them to the pot. Those carrots that have seen better days, some celery, a package of frozen spinach, a can of beans. Add a quart of vegetable or chicken broth and a can of kitchen-ready crushed tomatoes. Put in herbs of your choice, such as basil and marjoram. Simmer about 20 minutes, or until the flavors have blended together and all ingredients are soft. Salt and pepper to taste.
The difference between a soup and a stew is the proportion of liquid. You can make a thinner soup into a thicker stew by adding more solid ingredients, or cooking it down so that the solids absorb more of the liquid. The result is something more flavorful and substantial.
You may choose to serve the soup in a bowl as a first course, or with a sandwich for lunch. You might serve a stew in a bowl over grain such as rice, couscous, bulghur, quinoa or polenta. Offer shredded parmesan as a topping. Or leave out the grain and serve along with thick, crusty bread (good for dipping and mopping up the last bits of liquid) and a good cheese. Add salad and you have a lovely meal.
Don’t forget a glass of wine!