Around here, we operate on a “monthly budget” system. We allocate a certain number of dollars to certain categories and, then, that money is what we have for the month. Unlike some families, we don’t really “roll over” funds from one month to another– to be perfectly frank, while we’re sticklers for our budget, sometimes we need to shift money back and forth between categories.
Anyway, what this all really means is that, by month’s end, my grocery budget is pretty much always gone. Admittedly, we have a (perhaps unrealistically) low number for that item line, but, still, I work hard to make it happen. There are times we spend the last few days of the month without something– perhaps milk, butter, or the “good fruit.”
We always survive.
When I’m looking at what appear to be bare cabinets and freezer, I sometimes have to “think outside the box.” One of our very favorite suppers when this happens is “End of the Month Soup.”
There is so much beauty about soup– it is warm, rich, fulfilling, and so very adaptable. You can toss random things in a slow cooker or stock pot and, several hours later, ladle out bowls of deliciousness. And, honestly, while there’s nothing wrong with following a tried and true soup recipe, you really don’t need one to make a hearty, satisfying meal.
I’ve been known to toss all manner of things in my slow cooker for End of the Month Soup– leftover taco meat, pasta salad dregs, little dribbles and drops of various condiments. Honestly, almost anything has the potential to work in soup. I thought I’d walk you through this particular batch, that we enjoyed last night, just to give you a better idea of exactly how I do it.
A couple days ago, I posted the following photo on Instagram with the caption, “That’s gonna be soup tomorrow. Believe it or not.”
The next day, I posted this one, showing the finished product:
Looks pretty good, right? And it was!
So, after scouring my freezer and pantry, here’s what wound up in that pot:
- 4 cups chicken stock, from roasting a chicken in the slow cooker (frozen)
- 3 cups spaghetti sauce (frozen)
- about 3/4 of a roasted chicken breast (frozen), + a few bits of thigh meat stuck to it
- one bag of steam-ready mixed veggies– carrots, corn, peas, and green beans (I found it at Aldi for 59 cents one day.)
- 1/2 box (6 oz.) mixed pasta cuts (shells, penne, rotini)
To make End of the Month Soup:
1. Dump everything but the pasta in, still frozen.
2. Cook on low, 6 – 8 hours.
3. Lift lid, stir, and dump in pasta and 2 cups of water. (*cut up the meat at this point, if needed, too)
4. Cook on high, 1 hour.
And, really, that was it. Because both the stock and the spaghetti sauce were rich and seasoned, I didn’t need to add any spices, but you could certainly adjust the flavor with salt, pepper, and your favorite herbs and spices. A dash of hot or soy sauce can make it fun, too! Really, the sky’s the limit.
The next time you look upon your food supply with a feeling of frustration or despair, don’t forget to consider the possibility of soup. What leftover sauces, veggies, and meat scraps do you have rolling around?
It could just be you have the makings for a perfect End of the Month Soup.
We used up all sorts of random tid-bits that had no real purpose here. The only “non-dreg” item was the bag of frozen veggies, but I’ve been known to use up all the little handfuls of those leftover, too.