A Recipe for Savings in Hard Times - “Clean Out the Crisper” Vegetable Soup

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Times are tough

and a lot of us can’t afford to let food go to waste. What to do with those random veggies hanging out in the crisper drawer? You know, the lone potato rolling amongst the limp celery and that bag with two scrawny carrots in it.

Soup Kitchen, 1936

The answer – soup. As old as the history of cooking itself, this simple act of combining a variety of foods in a single pot to yield a nutritious, filling and easily digestible meal has gotten people through some hard times over the centuries, from the days of colonial travelers to the soup kitchens in America that started around 1929, when the effects of a growing depression began to be felt (is the feeling in the air so different now?).

Yes, we can eat soup in the summer, if you’re wondering. And I think preparation for harder times ahead almost demands that we step out of our comfort zones and routines, differentiating between our 'wants' and 'needs.' And if it’s in the name of waste prevention that’s even better. You could invite your neighbors and ask them to bring their crisper drawer contents, too – sort of a fridge clean-out/potluck. That would be a nice alternative to the usual planning and expense that come with typical modern-day entertaining. Let them know a week out to make sure no one tosses that random rolling potato

the more variety, the more nutrition!

The recipe below lists my miscellaneous ingredients at the time, items that were in their last days of usefulness or were just too scant to be used alone. As long as you have the basics – sufficient liquid and some solids – you’ll do just fine. Think outside the box – leftover bits of herbs or that last half cup of V8 juice will lend a new flavor.

“Clean Out the Crisper” Vegetable Soup

2 TBS olive oil

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2 tomatoes, diced

1 zucchini, sliced

fresh parsley, chopped

½ head of broccoli, cut into small pieces

about 2 cups fresh spinach, chopped or torn

1 box organic chicken broth*

½ can pumpkin puree (a great thickener)

1 small carton Del Fuego tomato sauce

Bragg’s Liquid Aminos

sea salt to taste

For this one, I decided to sauté the onions and garlic until everyone in the house felt like Pavlov’s dog. Then you can add in the other vegetables and toss them around a bit until thoroughly heated. Pour in the broth and other liquid ingredients, season to taste. Simmer for 30 minutes on up, depending on how soft you like your veggies and how much time you have on your hands. Soup is so flexible, let’s try to do the same.

*If you don’t have any broth, you can use water with bullion or sea salt. Let the cooking of the veggies do the work. You can also save trimmings of meat in the freezer that you would normally toss. These can add some great flavor and a little fat to the soup.

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