Want to enjoy what is nearly a free meal? Make some Stoup. Stoup is stew-soup made from leftovers collected throughout the week or month plus anything that needs to be eaten before it goes bad. Add tomatoes, onions, garlic, and beans as needed to rev up the flavor and protein. For example, you might start with some extra pasta sauce, a carrot that’s a bit limp, a handful of rice or pasta, broth from cooking beans, and parsley stems. (Remove the parsley stems before serving.) Clean your refrigerator and make dinner with this recipe!
Imagine the final Stoup as you choose food to add. Only add items that would make the stoup tasty. It’s fun to see how the Stoup manages to be different every time. You can nudge it in various ethnic directions by adding spices.
For the sake of tracking the probable costs of making stoup, the Cook for Good plan assumes that you’ll add these items to your other ingredients to serve four people: 2 cups of cooked beans, a 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes, an onion, a green pepper, 2 cloves of garlic, and cayenne pepper to taste. But it really depends on what you start with.
Stoup or Stew-Soup Recipe
Active time: 15 minutes. Total time: 45 minutes to 1 hour. Number of servings depends on what you add to it.
- leftovers frozen throughout the week or month
- “use it or lose it” vegetables from the fridge or pantry
- as needed, diced tomatoes, onions, cooked beans, garlic, hot sauce, spices
- Save up. Keep largish freezer container in an easy-to-grab spot in the freezer. My original plastic one, shown in the picture, holds a quart. I’m now using a glass quart-sized canning jar with a wide mouth. Put any sort of leftovers that might be good in a stew into your Stoup container, such as a few tablespoons of tomato sauce, a half-cup of beans, the rest of an onion, extra rice, the spicy relish from the Indian takeout, bread crumbs, and rinsings from tomato cans and cooking pots. If you do eat meat, add any edible scraps (see notes below).
- Thaw, simmer, and forage. The night before you make Stoup, move the container to the refrigerator to thaw. The next day, put it in a big pot. While it heats up, add any vegetables that are nearing the end of their deliciousness, including potatoes. The mix should have about 1/2 cup of beans per serving. If it doesn’t, either add cooked beans or serve it with another high-protein dish.
- Taste and adjust. Taste Stoup in about 20 minutes after the raw vegetables have softened. Sometimes it’s delicious just as it. Sometimes it needs some more tomatoes, hot sauce, or other spices. If it seems “muddy” add a splash of vinegar or lemon juice to brighten it. Remove any bits added for flavoring only, such as parsley stems or bay leaves.
- Serve hot. Refrigerate any extra for up to four days; do not refreeze.
Tips and notes
- Add any potatoes when cooking the stoup; they get mushy if frozen.
- Refreezing previously frozen food can set the stage for food poisoning.
- You might find that adding raw collards or kale makes the Stoup taste strong and bitter. If so, you can chop the greens, boil them separately for seven minutes, drain, and then add them to the Stoup.
- Don’t add hot dogs, cheese, marshmallows, or anything with mayonnaise or your Stoup will become unspeakably horrible. Other meat scraps are OK if you have them, but not hot dogs! (I don’t recommend eating animal products, but if you do, please don’t waste any.)
- The original Stoup recipe and many other thrifty techniques are in my book Wildly Affordable Organic.