Friday, October 7, 2011

How to make a one-person serving of home made soup...

...when the tostada you set out to make doesn't quite work out.

I was out of bread or any kind of leftovers for my dad's lunch today so I scrounged around the 'fridge and pantry and came up with:

  •  a jar of Tostito's salsa
  • round whole-wheat Middle Eastern flat bread
  • 1/2 block of Colby cheese
  • a can of black beans

I put most of the beans in a container for another use and then, leaving about 1/2 cup in the can I mashed them with some of the salsa, a dash of chipotle sauce and a pinch of roasted cumin. Meanwhile, I toasted the flat bread in the toaster oven. Next I spread the somewhat soupy mixture (hint of things to come) on the bread and shaved some of the Colby on top (I like to use a vegetable parer for nice thin shavings of cheese). I popped it back on the toaster oven on a piece of foil (lost the tray ages ago) and set it to broil for 5 minutes.

The result was a sliding, goopy mess. For some reason, one side of the bread was very crispy and the other side was soggy. Grrr...What to do now? I couldn't very well give him the floppy 'tostada' mess. My dad has diminished strength on his left side due to stroke and he is left handed. A hot mess in his lap would not be good eats.

I scraped the topping onto a plate, thinking to give him some tortilla chips and serve it as a dip. Ordinarily I don't like to give him salty snack foods but this was an emergency. Unfortunately, there were only the dregs of chips left in the bag, unsuitable for dipping.

So what do you do with a perfectly decent pile of beans, salsa, and cheese? Make a soup! I have this handy 2 1/2 cup stainless-steel measuring cup which I often use on the range as a miniature sauce pan. Generally I  just use it for heating tea water, or scalding a bit of milk for bread baking but why not make a single serving a soup?

 Leftovers to the rescue again. I dumped the bean mixture in the 'pot', added about a 1/2 cup of leftover marinara (remember my daughter's marinara which I used for yesterday's pizza disaster?), and a 1/2 cup of store-bought vegetable stock. A pinch of salt, another dash of chipotle sauce and bring it to a boil.

Remember those sad, bottom-of-the-bag tortilla chips? I placed a few in the bottom of a soup bowl, poured over the soup, shaved on more cheese, add a  garnish of cilantro leaves and Ta-dah! If I had any (usually I do) I would have further garnished with a wedge of lime.

So, next time, don't throw away leftovers just because you think there is not enough left for a meal. Perhaps you cannot make a whole pizza or pasta dish with a 1/2 cup of marinara sauce but with a bit of ingenuity it easy to come up with ways to use your leftovers to add bulk or extra flavor to a soup or casserole or even a stir-fry. It helps to consider your leftovers in terms of the ingredients they contain and ask yourself how those flavors and nutritional elements can be used to liven a soup, sandwich, stir--fry, casserole, or even home made bread.

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