This soup was born out of necessity, upon arriving home from work-travel to an empty fridge. It’s made solely with ingredients from the freezer or pantry, with the exception of fresh parsley which we have growing in the apartment. Normally we would use all fresh vegetables for our soups, but the point of this recipe is to have a satisfying meal option even when you haven’t gone grocery shopping. It happens to us more than I care to admit. Luckily, all it takes is a well stocked pantry (like in The Ultimate Guide to Stocking Your Pantry) and freezer.
From the pantry we used white kidney beans and white vermouth. You can use whatever kind of canned beans you prefer. They’re easy to store and a great source of protein. You can also use wine, but vermouth is inexpensive and unlike wine, it doesn’t go bad. It’s great for cooking and perfect for a recipe like this. The freezer is where things got interesting. It’s easy enough to keep a few bags of frozen vegetables on hand. We went a step further and found a great way to avoid waste AND be prepared for an emergency meal. Before we left for our trip, Mike and I stored onions, carrots and celery in the freezer because we knew we couldn’t use them up before leaving home for two weeks. Turns out, they were perfect in the soup. Next time you have vegetables that aren’t going to make it, chop them up (they’re hard to chop frozen) and throw them in the freezer. Also, we always stash the rinds from Parmigiano or Pecorino cheese in the freezer. It’s great for soup! Lastly, you’ll need broth. You can use store-bought chicken broth (or beef) that keeps in your pantry, or you can stock your freezer with our home made broth. We vote for homemade, but either way, you’ll always have the base for a quick soup.
This meal took around 20 minutes to make and it was so good. It was just enough for me and Mike or for three people who don’t eat as much as we do. It didn’t taste like a quick-fix dinner that you only make when you don’t have any other options. The recipe is pretty loose as are the cook times. Don’t get too worried about that. Play around with the ingredients and change the recipe based on what’s in your freezer and pantry and taste as you go. You can’t go wrong!
- 1 quart of chicken broth, preferably home made – get the recipe here
- 1/2 bag frozen spinach, about 5 ounces
- 1/2 carrot, chopped or grated
- 1/2 stalk celery, chopped
- 1/2 large onion, chopped
- 1/3 cup of vermouth
- 1 can white kidney beans, about 15 ounces
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 handful of fresh chopped parsley, if you have it
- Cheese rind, if you’re the sort who keeps that in your freezer – it’s optional
- If using frozen broth, run the container under hot water and pop the broth out into a soup pot to warm on medium heat
- In the meantime, saute the celery and onions on low to medium heat until they are soft
- Add a pinch of salt and pepper keeping in mind the seasoning that already exists in the broth you use
- Add the vermouth and raise the heat to medium to let the alcohol cook off, about 3 minutes
- Add the cheese rind to the broth if you’re using it and remember this will increase the saltiness so salt accordingly
- Then add the chicken broth to the vegetables
- If using broth from your freezer, it just needs to be mostly liquid at this point
- Next add the spinach and beans and cook on medium heat until all the vegetables are warmed through and the broth is hot
- Top with fresh parsley
- Serve hot