Wednesday, February 23, 2011

RECIPE: Everything-But-the-Kitchen-Sink Lentil Soup

I'm sure every frugal cook has their own version of "anything goes" soup; this is mine! It's a bit of a joke around our house that when we have this soup for dinner I've managed to make a meal out of stuff most people would have thrown out. Honestly, even though that's sometimes pretty close to the truth, it's still one of the best soups I make. Although it never comes out exactly the same twice, it always makes a tasty and filling meal.

Basic soup:
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 cups water
1 carrot, diced
1 cup frozen peas or green beans
1 cup dried red lentils
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
¾ - 1 cup crushed tomatoes
juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp dried parsley (or ¼ cup fresh minced)

In a large saucepan, saute garlic and onions in oil until tender. Add stock, water, carrots, peas, lentils, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until lentils are tender (about 10-15 minutes). Add the crushed tomatoes, lemon juice and parsley and simmer another 10-15 minutes to allow flavours to blend.

Possible additions
I've successfully used all of the following in this soup:

-leftover cooked vegetables (in place of the carrots and peas)
-small amounts of leftover gravies and sauces
-scraps of cheese or the last bit of sour cream from the bottom of the container
-small amounts (less than 1/2 cup) leftover mashed potatoes
-leftover cooked rice or barley (or any cooked grain)
-finely diced leftover meat

Depending on how many additions you use, you may need to add some more water or stock to thin it out a bit.

What's your favourite go-to dish for using up a bunch of leftovers?

I shared this recipe at Full Plate ThursdayFrugal Food Thursday, Recipe Swap Thursday, Tip Day Thursday, Friday Favorites, Fat Camp Friday, and the GCC Recipe Swap.


  1. I have a version of Dirty Rice that we love to use. Its not real close to actual Cajun Dirty Rice just what we called it. We take all the little bits and pieces of produce left (think that 1/4 onion, half a pepper, 1 tomatoe, last bits of carrots, etc) and saute in olive oil with whatever spices seem to match the vegetable. While sauting boil 1 cup of rice (more or less depedning on the number of people cooking for). Dice leftover meat into small pieces so as to spread more evenly throughout the mixture. Combine vegetables, meat, rice and one can of Rotel. Season with salt and pepper as needed.

  2. This looks like a wonderful full body soup, so warm and comforting. Thank you so much for bringing it to Full Plate Thursday and please come back!

  3. @Poer Mom: That is another great way to use up lots of little bits and pieces. When I cook rice for a meal, I always make extra so I can have some on hand to make stir-fried rice, which is one of the other dishes I often make to incorporate lots of leftovers.

    @Helen: Thanks for stopping by again this week - you are such a gracious host over at Full Plate Thursday :)

  4. I like making "Friday Soup" which is just about the same idea - a concoction of leftovers with meat and pasta. Usually turns out very tasty and never the same way twice. Gotta love lentils - they cook fast and taste great. Love your menus!

    1. Friday often ends up being "Leftover Buffet" night around here, using up all the leftovers that didn't make it into the soup earlier in the week :) Although these days I'm lucky to have any leftovers as my two "bottomless pit" boys usually polish a lot of things off before anything makes it into the fridge!

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