A Soup With No Name

Oh, hey- it’s Wednesday. Time for me to inflict my mental meanderings upon you poor unsuspecting souls. Today’s topic? Cooking. Because, why not?

My usual approach to food is in keeping with my approach to life- I have some very basic knowledge, and make up the rest as I go along.

Take last night’s dinner. I wanted soup, because it was cold and rainy all day. And I acquired some pretzel rolls that are meant to be used as hamburger buns, but they’re so good that I’ve been known to substitute them for proper dinner rolls.

So, what does one put in soup, when it’s already five in the evening and we usually eat dinner around six-thirty? This:

– 1 onion

– 1 lb bacon ends (you can use any sort of bacon, pork, or ham; I went with the cheapest option)

– 3 medium potatoes

– 2 tbsp chicken flavored Better than Bouillon, mixed in about 4 cups of water

– 1 package of frozen chopped kale (about 12 oz) (you could also use collards, mustard greens, or spinach- any robust greens)

– salt and pepper to taste

My method was something like this (remember, I was winging it):

– Mix Better than Bouillon with water in a large pot- I used the crockpot, set to ‘high’.

– Fry the bacon ends in their own fat, cutting up any large pieces so they’re more convenient to eat with a spoon. I used my cast iron skillet so they cooked more evenly and were less likely to burn; no matter what you use, remember to stir them a few times.

-While the bacon is frying, chop the onion into medium pieces not much larger than your thumbnail.

– Remove the bacon from the stove and add to the crockpot, keeping a tablespoon or so of the fat in the skillet, then use that skillet to cook the onion on low heat until browned but not burnt.

– While the onion is cooking, chop or dice the potatoes, then precook them. I put them on a plate with about 2 Tbsp of water, then put them in the microwave for about five minutes.

-Add the cooked onion and partially cooked potatoes to the crockpot, and cook on high for about an hour.

– Steam the kale in the microwave- or stovetop, if you prefer; either way, follow the directions on the package- then add to the crockpot half an hour before serving. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Voila! Dump a ladle-full in a bowl, plate up a roll, and dinner is served. The whole kitchen smelled like bacon for the rest of the evening, which I count as a good thing. And because most of the ingredients are precooked in one way or another, the whole catastrophe only took about half an hour of prep time and about an hour in the pot, which was mostly a chance for the flavors to blend.

Dead simple, and it really hit the spot. I haven’t tried freezing the leftovers, because potatoes don’t usually freeze well, but look on the bright side- I can eat it two days in a row, and if I want it again next week- oh, no; I might just have to make it again! Quelle horreur! The kitchen will smell like bacon again, and isn’t that terrible?

Now that I’ve made you all hungry, what are some of your favorite quick and easy recipes?

15 comments

  1. I made what I call fried rice this morning. I always have a big pot of cold rice from the rice cooker in the fridge because the dogs get some with breakfast for their digestion. It’s jasmine rice because why not give the dogs good rice. So I scooped out some of that into a frying pan with some hot lard (thanks Cedar Sanderson, no more vegetable oil in my house). When it felt like time I threw a couple eggs into that and stirred. In a bit I tossed in some pieces of london broil I had pre cooked. They got warm and I dumped that mess on a plate. Variations on that theme are my fried rice recipe.

  2. My quick cooking almost always involves my small broiler pan. Steaks and salmon can be broiled in 8 minutes total. When my sons started cooking in college they each got a small broiler pan because no one is going to use a giant broiler pan for one or two people. Their friends were jealous.

    I’ve recently discovered I should do sausages that way, too. I used to cook dinner sausages like polish sausages or whathaveyou in the skillet, pour water on them, turn them constantly, keep checking and finally decide they were done after half an hour or more. Under the broiler, turned 3 times? Less than ten minutes.

    Braising chicken thighs in an iron skillet in the oven is also very tasty. Low heat. 15 minutes at 325. One hour at 300. Keep the skin above the broth, wine, whatever, and it will crisp up nicely. This isn’t quick, but it’s easy.

    I roast potatoes or baby turnips in duck fat, lard, tallow, olive oil, or butter in the oven until tender. 30 minutes depending on size? I cut mine down to about golf ball or smaller sizes.

    I put washed roasting potatoes or sweet potatoes on a piece of tin foil in the oven at 400 for about an hour. You have to check for doneness with a fork. Very easy. Incredibly easy and you don’t have to think about them at all. I don’t use big ones. They take forever.

  3. Egg sandwiches on rye toast. Or scrambled eggs and rye toast. Or omelets with rye toast.
    Eggs are so easy and shouldn’t be used only for breakfast.

    Also, baked spaghetti. Toss leftover cooked spaghetti with butter and beaten eggs and cheese and sage and parsley. Pour it out into a well-greased shallow baking dish. Top with leftover crumbled cooked bacon and bake until the eggs are set.

  4. The Toscana soup from Olive Garden is incredibly easy to make. Remove 3-4 Italian sausages from their casing and pinch off bite sized pieces into a heavy soup pan. Cook over med-hi heat until well browned. Meanwhile, chop some onion, then throw it in and cook until soft. Don’t worry if the bottom of the pan gets very brown. Meanwhile, scrub and slice two medium russet potatoes (in half lengthwise then into 1/2 inch slices, you don’t have to peel them). To the soup pan, add a couple tablespoons of flour, a few pinches of dried thyme, red pepper flakes, black pepper, a couple cloves of crushed garlic, and stir for a minute or so. Add a couple cartons of low-salt chicken broth (8-ish cups) and the potatoes. Simmer until the potatoes are tender (10 mins?). Add a few handfuls of bite sized kale pieces (optional), simmer a couple of mins. Stir in a half cup-ish of heavy cream. Serve with good bread.

    I don’t measure anything in this soup. Just toss it all in, using more or less of whatever you like. 30-minute supper.

  5. Meatloaf.

    Hamburger, egg, bread crumbs, assorted seasonings, some beef broth, and garlic. More garlic. A little more. That’s okay, I guess.

    Mix well with your hands, plop in a pan, then bake for 45-60 minutes. You can also Instant Pot it.

    Make extra for sandwiches.

  6. I made chicken soup last night.

    About 2 lbs frozen chicken (breast bits? this time, because they had been on sale)
    Ten small potatoes
    A large yellow onion
    Garlic and more garlic, cloves sliced lengthwise
    Tarragon
    Salt
    A quarter of the giant head of cabbage that was $.50 a pound.

    Fill ten qt pot with water and all the things. Leave for three hours on low.

    Fed ten people. Leftovers are suspiciously short on chicken, but will work well for cooking up a couple cups of rice and throwing in a can or two of beans for lunch. Should have thought to soak some dry beans overnight: they’re much cheaper.

  7. Two different soups that are family favorites. If you used canned for everything, you can put it together in 15 min and then bring to a boil and then eat, or toss it all in a crock pot in the morning/noon and eat it at dinner time. Or if you get really excited (or poor) you can soak the beans over night after bringing to a boil, peel, boil and chop the potatoes and add to the crock and continue as directed.

    Green Chili Stew (Learned in New Mexico)

    Favored Meat – Chicken, Beef, Pork Chopped and cooked (Micro, stove, leftover)
    Potatoes
    Can (or 2) green chilis
    Chopped onion (or onion powder, or onion soup mix)
    garlic (or garlic powder)
    2 cans Beans (red, pinto, black, or even chili) per can of potatoes
    Broth to cover (Or bullion with water) And I often dump the juice from the cans into the pot, to reduce the amount of broth needed.
    Salt and pepper to taste.
    If you want it a little thicker you can add a packet of brown gravy.
    Serve with Shredded cheese and tortillas or just eat it!
    (We had 5 kids 3 were boys, so you can expand this recipe easily, which is why there are no “real” measurements.)

    Black Bean Corn Chowder (Variation of a Rachel Ray)

    1 lb Chicken or Beef (optional) Cubed and pre-cooked.
    2 cans black beans
    1 can corn
    1 can diced tomatoes
    1 can diced green chilis
    1TBSP cumin
    garlic
    onion
    Salt and Pepper to taste
    Broth or bullion and water (Again, I usually dump the water from cans into the pot)

    Again, very expandable.
    Serve as is, or with Shredded cheese, or with grilled cheese or quesadillas.

  8. _Rice Glop_
    — Random leftover meat cut into bite-sized pieces
    — Two cans of goo, pick from: S&W stewed tomatoes, cream of mushroom soup
    — Five handfuls of Minute Rice
    — One can of water
    — One chopped onion
    — Seasoning
    Microwave in covered glass pot for 10 minutes

    _Every Damn Thing In The House Soup_
    — Inspect fridge and freezer
    — Pull out anything unidentifiable or in a leftovers-size package
    — Dump all together in a pot
    — Add water and seasoning
    — Simmer until all is cooked
    Surprise!

    1. Every damn thing in the house soup is where you use up the frozen alligator jerky given to you by your sister from Florida.

      Cut up into tiny bits made it vanish into the soup and the heavy salt content meant I didn’t have to add more.

  9. If you go to the Korean grocery, you’ll see these weird things that look like giant gummy noodle cylinders. They’re also called rice cakes, but yeah, they’re more like noodles. You’re supposed to slice them up into rounds, and drop the rounds into soup, where they will soften and expand and be delicious. They are also very filling.

    But if you leave the soup overnight, they will continue to absorb water. Suddenly you will have giant rice monsters in the morning, and they will just keep getting bigger for quite a while.

    I still haven’t had the courage to cook the Korean fish sausage, with extra nutritious milk ingredients. I was going to eat it today, because it’s Friday, but I just can’t bring myself to be daring enough. Anyway, they use that in soup sometimes, too.

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