I would choose to have leftovers for dinner every night if I could. Especially in the colder months, I make sure to have a constant stock of stew or chili in the freezer to heat up for a quick and hearty meal. My love of soups started in college, when I would often choose a Tabatchnick soup for lunch- the kind that comes in a sealed plastic bag that you boil in water for a few minutes and then simply pour into a bowl.
Well, I thought I’d do the same with some leftover frozen Black Bean & Pumpkin Chili (recipe to come… once I’ve perfected it)- pop it into a Ziplock storage bag and stick it in a pot of boiling water. Easy as pie, right?
I let the soup boil for a few minutes, went back to check on it, and found a saucepan full of brownish-green water with chunks of watered down chili floating mockingly to the top. I lifted up the bag, and what was left of the chili plopped right out the holes that had appeared in the bottom of the bag and straight into the water.
Boy, was I disappointed! At that moment it seemed that the only thing I wanted to eat was that pumpkin chili. My husband offered to go to the store to get more soup… I just gave him my puppy dog look and responded, “But this was the soup I made myself!!” (As if no one in the world would ever come close)
Grudgingly, I opened up the pantry door and surveyed my options of mediocre Progresso soups. Macaroni & Bean, Macaroni & Bean, Hearty Tomato, and more Macaroni & Bean.
Suddenly I had a great idea. Why not take an ordinary Progresso soup can and improve it? A world of opportunities was opened as I thought about what I could do with that simple can. Instead of treating it as the end product, I would use it as a recipe starter (hey- Progresso invented the idea of that anyway, didn’t they?) and spice things up a bit.
Take this ordinary can of Macaroni & Bean Progresso Soup. Add some leftover frozen veggies, a few frozen, cooked turkey meatballs, a can of diced tomatoes, chicken broth, and about a half teaspoon each of dried bay leaves, parsely, rosemary, and thyme (I didn’t have sage, otherwise I would call this “Scarborough Fair” soup). Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for about 15 minutes or until turkey meatballs are heated through. Remove from heat, add some garlic powder and fresh baby spinach. Serve when spinach is wilted.
What started off as a disappointing event turned into a breakthrough in modern cooking! Okay, well probably not. But it was certainly an improvement of the situation. I ended up with a stew with a lot more green and a lot more flavor than I started with. Better yet- now I know what to do with those three remaining cans of Progresso that have been sitting in my pantry for these past few months!