Saturday Soup: Making good use of leftovers

I'm not one to waste food. I consider any edible food tossed into the garbage can is money out of my
pocket--even if it's only pennies worth. My mother used to say, "Little bits add up." Whether you are talking about saving money, or creating a new meal out of leftovers (which is also saving money), her philosophy rings true.

Now, there are some people who will not eat leftovers. Recently, at a family holiday dinner, the husband of the host mentioned that once he'd had the meal, he didn't want it again. (Hence why the host was packaging up the leftovers for her kids as he spoke.) Me? I can eat leftovers for a week and be perfectly happy. You do have to consider a few food safety rules, however. A week is probably too long to keep most leftovers. I would use or freeze within 4 days for most foods. Also be careful about how you reheat. Just take out what you want and reheat, and avoid repeatedly reheating the entire dish. You can find some additional rules for heating eating leftovers here.

The main thing is to not rely on my Dad's method of determining if food is safe to eat. His rule of thumb is this: if it's slimy, fuzzy, or green, don't eat it. Admittedly, he eats food longer after it's been prepared than I do--however, he doesn't get sick, so....  (but please do eat, freeze, or toss after that 4th day to be safe--thank you!).

But what about those people who refuse leftovers? According to this infographic, 2 of 5 Americans do not like to eat leftovers. Maybe you have a few of those picky eaters in your household. The key is to make something different out of what is left, if you can. (Not all leftovers can be converted to a new dish, of course.) I'm going to share one idea with you today.

Vegetable Soup from Leftovers

So, truthfully, this recipe is partly due to leftovers and partly due to thinking ahead (aka planning). Having a stocked pantry is key to "making something out of nothing" or utilizing those leftovers handily. Because of a little advanced foresight and modern technology (ala the Instant Pot), I was able to pull off the following soup quickly and efficiently, and for literally, pennies.

(Note: This is my first attempt at video. I realize it's rather amateurish -- but I'll get better! I'd say I'll redo in the future but let's get real -- is it possible I'll have these exact leftovers again in the future? Probably not. So, we're going with this one as it is!) 

Ingredients List

3-4 stalks celery, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1-2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 small baked potato (leftover)
1/2 bag frozen corn
1/2 bag frozen peas
1-2 slices cooked roast (leftover)
2 sticky ribs (leftover)
Broth and onions from roast (leftover)
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
1 cup (or more) of beef broth, as needed (I didn't need because I had lots of from the roast)

  1. Chop everything that should be chopped. 
  2. Saute onion, celery, carrots, and garlic in Instant Pot (saute mode) with olive oil. 
  3. When slightly tender, turn off saute mode and add remaining ingredients, including canned tomatoes and broth.
  4. Cover the Instant Pot with lid and latch according to directions. 
  5. Set pot on high pressure for 20 minutes.
  6. All steam to vent naturally. 
I love this type of soup because I can create it quickly, especially with the Instant Pot. If vegetables are already prepped (carrots, celery, onions), the potato and meat already cooked, you can have dinner on the table with a soup like this in under 45 minutes.

The (night before) Beef Roast Recipe - Instant Pot Version

1 small Angus beef roast (organic, grass fed)
2 sweet onions, chopped roughly
1 cup red wine
scant 1/4 cup of red wine vinegar
dash or two of Worcestershire sauce
dash or two of Liquid Smoke
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil

1. Salt and pepper both sides of beef roast
2. Turn Instant Pot to saute mode, add 1-2 turns of olive oil to the pan (maybe 1-2 Tbsp.)
3. Braise the beef on at least two sides, all around if possible. When the pan gives up the meet (it's not sticking to the pan) it's time to turn it.
4. Remove meat from pan, set aside on plate
5. Add chopped onions to pan, saute until brown and slightly tender.
6. Deglaze pan with mixture of red wine vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and Liquid Smoke. Saute for a few seconds with onion.
7. Add red wine and continue to deglaze. Stir.
8. Add roast to pan.
9. Attach Instant Pot lid and check to be certain lid is sealed correctly and vent is in proper position (see your book guidelines if you are unsure).
10. Set the pressure cooker to high pressure for 1 hour (60 minutes).
11. Let roast vent/release naturally. Use care when removing lid from pot, following guidelines included with your Instant Pot.