Three Inconvenient Soups

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These three soups have no real recipes. Each came about through sheer happenstance. Once or twice a week I walk to one of the local farmers’ markets. My two favorite are the Honolulu Farmers’ Market , fronting the Concert Hall on the corner of Ward Ave. and King St on Wednesdays at 4pm, and the Kaka’ako Market, which takes place next to Ross Dress for Less on Ward Ave, Sundays at 8am. I buy just about everything that can be produced locally; fish, eggs, beef, pig, venison, mushrooms, and all sorts of fruits and vegetables. Once home with my haul (which I inconveniently carry the mile back, I either roast the vegetables or make up six salads to be eaten over the next few days. I will cover those salads and roast in another post.

Regardless of how I cook my vegetables I always end up with “garbage”.

  • Carrot peels
  • Over ripe tomatoes
  • Celery leafs
  • Onion peels
  • Beet peels and stub ends
  • Stub ends of carrots and onions
  • The bases of celery bunches
  • Carrot leafs
  • Those knotty little bits of celery were the stock splits
  • The ugly parts of lettuce
  • Any juices, spices, and oil that remain in a pan from roasting vegetables.
  • That last bit of garlic head I let dry out on the counter

All the things that you would normally just toss, compost, or stuff down the disposal hoping that this time it will not jam. I take all these things, chop them up small, and pack them tightly into containers and pop them into the freezer to wait until there is enough. Though they are tightly packed, there is still space. Every time I finish off a batch of homemade pickles (made with rice vinegar and shoyu) I get one of the garbage containers out and pour the juice in to fill in the spaces. I do this with the juice of store bought pickled products.

If you are a vegetarian, you might want to stop reading here. In addition to the above items, I freeze and save things like:

  • Chicken skin and bones
  • Beef and pig bones
  • Any unused pan drippings
  • All remains of fish
  • The liquid that comes out of the chicken when it is Sous Vide. I sous vide my chicken with lots of spice so that adds a lot of spice to the stock
  • The oil and water from canned fish
  • Bits of unattractive cheese rind

When the freezer gets too full, I pull out my Instant Pot, microwave the frozen garbage until it comes out of the container, and place it into the pot. I finish melting the garbage with hot water, making sure not to exceed the max fill level. When I have too much stuff for the Instant Pot, I pull out a big pasta pot. The pressure cooker is faster, but the finished product is about the same. I pressure cook for three hours, and eight to ten hours in the pasta pot on the stove at a simmer. When I have cooked the life out the garbage, I strain it out through a tight weave wire colander. When I taste the stock at this point, it usually has a pretty pale flavor profile. Sometimes when I have no meat in the pot, I will add a few teaspoons of Marmite to give it umami. I return the stained stock to the pot and simmer it until it has reduced by at a least by half. The more it is reduced the less space it takes up in the freezer. I can always add water to thin it back down again. Once I let the stock simmer too long, and ended up with something the consistency of demi glace. It was so good!

Once the stock is reduced far enough for my liking, I cool it down, place it into conveniently sized freezer containers and label it. When it is finished cooking I taste it and determine what I will call it. Whatever meat was predominate is usually the final flavor despite the other ingredients. The only ones that get the vegetable label are the ones that are totally meat and fish free, since I might use them when cooking for vegetarian friends.

Occasionally, I look into my fridge and see something that has to be used now, or I am going to lose it. Often that is vegetables in excess of my salad needs. Other times it is because I roasted too many vegetables and now they are not as attractive as they were when first made.

The chicken soup above was made with stock made from chicken bones and skin. I cooked some fresh vegetables in the stock and when they were done, I took the soup from the stove and added some of the chicken meat which had been removed from the bones earlier. I have never liked reheating chicken, but letting it warm up in a hot soup seems to avoid that strange reheated chicken taste and smell.

The carrot soup was made with a fish stock and leftover curry roasted carrots. I served the soup cold with daikon salad that was leftover from making homemade bánh mì sandwiches. I heated the carrots in hot fish stock before making it into a cream soup with an emersion blender. Extra creaminess was added by using up some leftover cream I had bought for a friend who likes cream in his coffee.

The potato soup was made from beef stock made from bones left over from cooking marrow. The potatoes were butter smashed potatoes from Thanksgiving. They were blended with hot stock with the emersion blender and finished with sour cream and a little whole milk. The basil was left over from making pesto, and the peanuts were fished out of a can of mixed nuts.

Each soup took days to come together. I will never make them exactly like that again.  I am glad that I got to taste them, and look forward to what new soups I can come up with. As I write this, I am drinking a thinner cold blended carrot onion soup, the main spice of which is Ras el Hanout.
Categories: Cooking, food, Nomad's Food, Random Thought, Talking StoryTags: , , , , , , ,

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