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Saturday, October 9, 2010

Paring Down the Pantry: White Bean and Pesto Soup

I don't understand it. I hardly spend any money on groceries, yet my pantry, which includes freezer, fridge, and REAL pantry, is STUFFED. I am aware that Thanksgiving is only about 6 weeks away.

I love Thanksgiving. It is a holiday based on a family meal. It is marked by great sales on staple foods. It yields wonderful leftovers, including and especially, broth.

As I did last spring, I am limiting my expenditures to $25.00/week, to force a paring down.* Mr. FS and I have the day off, so we looked through the freezer: steak, meatballs,various vegetables, tons of ratatouille from garden eggplant, tons of lemon juice from tree, shrimp, and, WHAT'S THAT? How embarrassing: BROTH from November 2009. We defrosted it and it was OK. We also found some frozen white beans.

I whirled the possibilities around: white bean soup with lemon, white beans with shrimp (a nouveau-Creole dish that proved somewhat disappointing), white bean bruschetta, white beans with tuna, eventually settling on WHITE BEAN SOUP with PESTO.

This is from a seemingly forgotten cookbook author: Perla Meyers, whose first book
The Seasonal Kitchen made a huge splash. Yes, you can now buy it for a mere 8 cents plus shipping on Amazon. How I wanted that book, first published when I was in college.

The white bean soup is from another book, The Peasant Kitchen. (OMG someone is selling this on Amazon for $247! Sadly--for me--there are other versions available for a penny).

I won't give you the exact recipe, since I didn't have the right amount of anything. I threw into a pot some of those caramelized onions from my slow cooker, added the frozen white beans, broke off a chunk of frozen stock, and added a few canned tomatoes. After a while, I pureed it with my trusty immersion blender. Then I cooked a few handfuls of macaroni in the puree. When that was done, I added some PESTO we had frozen last month.

Note that because everything was either frozen or canned, I didn't have any prep work. Such is the blessing of the freezer/pantry.

Do you ever cook like this? Send me a list of your ingredients and I'll see what I can come up with.

*No sooner did I make a vow than I broke it. I just ordered a 50 lb. sack of oat groats.


FB @ said...

Whenever I have a lot of leftovers in the fridge, or bits and pieces from other meals, I figure out what would taste good together and make up a meal from that.

I learned that from my mom who was the queen of making leftovers into new meals

Duchesse said...

Mmm, white bean soup! I had forgotten about Perla, dependably good recipes that always turned out. Thanksgiving is earlier here in Canda, this Monday, Oct. 11.

Anonymous said...

My husband is doing cooking of this type. He has no regard for cookbooks...and sometimes the results are tasty. Other times not so much. He is enamored of too many spices.

Funny about Money said...

Glorioski! I'm coming to your restaurant.

I dearly love white beans. Just recently also became enamored of Mayan beans, which come from the Yucatan...buttery! Made a bean soup with those just a couple of weeks ago. Wish I'd thought of the pesto idea!

Shelley said...

We seem to find ourselves with odd bits and pieces to use up and enjoy the challenge of making something tasty. We also seem to end up with a full freezer that needs to be whittled down. Not sure how that happens other than buying in bulk (chicken breasts) or freezing leftovers because I always cook too much food. As you say, the gift of frozen foods is less prep time.

Frugal Scholar said...

@FB--Me too, only I had to teach myself, alas.

@Duchesse--I'm glad somebody else remembers Perla--she was ahead of her time.

@Terri--I follow Marcella Hazan, who uses hardly any spices. They can be dangerous.

@Funny--You're always invited.

@Shelley--My bursting freezer remains a mystery to me.