Wrapping Up the Box: Empty the Fridge Soup and Frozen Fruit Smash

This is the last post in the series What’s in the Box? Tips for Dealing with Your Weekly Produce Box. I’m sad that it has come to an end. It’s been such fun sharing my organic improvisations with you while also reading your fantastic tips for how you get through your boxes of fruit and veg.

To finish off this series, I’m giving you my “recipe” for Empty the Fridge Soup. I make this on the day before my next produce box arrives. It makes the whole house smell like my Baba’s kitchen, it’s hearty and healthy and (the best part) it makes space for all those incoming goodies.

Before getting into the soup, I’m announcing my next series: Kid-Friendly Fare with Adult-Friendly Flare. In its honor, I’ve developed a frozen fruit recipe that is loved by children but can also be adulted-up a notch. It’s adaptable to whatever fruit you have and so is great for using up those last bits and bobs before your next produce box arrives.

Frozen Fruit Smash

  • 3 cups roughly chopped fruit*
  • 1/2 cup fruit juice (such as orange, pineapple, apple or a combination)
  • 2 tbsp lemon or lime juice (or 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup (or white or brown sugar)

Mix everything up in a medium saucepan. Stir occasionally while heating to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

It can be used in this state as a topping for ice cream or coffee cake. But I prefer to do the following:

Purée until smooth in a blender, food processor or using an immersion blender. Pour into a large ziplock bag. Squeeze all air out of bag before sealing. Lay the bag flat in the freezer. If you remember, go and  smoosh it around every hour or so until it’s frozen.

Once frozen, put the bag on the counter and smash it repeatedly with a rolling pin, hard enough to break up the purée into little slivers but not so hard that the bag is forced open.

Why smash it?

  • So that it can be eaten like sorbet: by itself in a bowl with a spoon.
  • So you can take out as much or as little at a time as you’d like.

What can you do with Frozen Fruit Smash?

  • Add some to a blender with yogurt and milk to make a smoothie;
  • Layer with plain or vanilla yogurt for a fruity treat (see picture above), you can melt it first or leave it with the ice crystals
  • Scoop into a bowl and microwave just until melted. Pour as a sauce over ice cream or coffee cake.
  • Adult It Up: Combine 1/2 cup fruit smash with 2 tsp orange or raspberry liqueur. Microwave just until melted. Pour over 2 big slices of chocolate cake or 2 bowls full of ice cream.

* Peel all fruits and remove all seeds/pits. Segment oranges and grapefruits. If using raspberries, after puréeing strain through a fine mesh sieve to remove little grainy seeds.

Empty the Fridge Soup

Following the Basic Soup Improvisation ideas from The Splendid Table is one of my favorite ways to take a bunch of ingredients and whip them into a glorious pot of steamy deliciousness. I often follow those guidelines (which are now stored in my brain) when I have an abundance of ingredients to choose from.

When I’m making Empty the Fridge Soup, I use a different method. I literally empty the fridge; I take everything out and put it on the counter (not the condiments, just all the actual food bits: leftovers and un-previously-used items alike). Anything that is beyond the eating point gets tossed. Everything else is lined up next to the cutting board ready for chopping.

Here’s the method: Chop everything up as you go or beforehand. In a large pot or dutch oven warm some oil or butter. In goes any onions, carrots, celery, peppers, leeks and/or garlic that you have. Then add any meat that needs pre-cooking. Stir occasionally until browned.

Enter the remaining hard vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, green beans, asparagus, etc.) and a good bit of salt and pepper. Throw in some seasonings if you’d like (fennel seeds, oregano, basil, chili powder, curry powder, smoked paprika, coriander, thyme. Decide based on what’s in the pot and/or your mood. Unsure? Just add a little. You can always taste later and add more if needed).

Then go the soft greens (spinach, herbs, lettuce (Really? Lettuce in soup?)) and any leftovers (gravy, tomato sauce, cooked vegetables or meats, potatoes, rice, noodles, whatever’s there goes into the pot).

Top with broth until everything is covered by an inch or so. Stir.

Heat to a simmer over medium-high stirring occasionally. Cover partially and simmer over low heat stirring every once in awhile for about 30 minutes, until everything is softened and the flavors have had a chance to blend. Taste. Add more salt and/or pepper and/or other seasonings and maybe a squeeze of lemon juice or a splash of vinegar to brighten it all up.

Eat for dinner with big chunks of bread. Put single servings of leftovers into ziplock bags or freezable containers for quick healthy lunches in the days to come.

What actually went into my Empty the Fridge Soup this week? 1/2 red and 1/2 white onion, 2 stalks celery with leaves, 1 cup pre-shredded carrot, 2 diced chicken breasts, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, 2 beets peeled and chopped, 12 ounces sliced mushrooms, 2 handfuls of leftover roasted potatoes with pearl onions, 1/2 cup cooked rice, 2 handfuls nearly wilted red leaf lettuce, 1 bunch green onions, 2 cups leftover broccoli gratin with roasted garlic, about a cup of roasted green beans, 4 cups turkey broth, 2 cups tomato sauce, 1/2 pork loin chop, a handful each of parsley, cilantro and basil, 2 tsp lime juice, arugula leaves sprinkled on top to give a peppery finish.

Yes, it was a strange mix. But the vibrant color matched the blend of flavors and it all came together. It’s weird, but somehow I’ve never met an Empty the Fridge Soup that I didn’t like. Have you ever had a bad experience emptying your fridge into a soup pot? I’d love to hear all about it! Just leave a comment below.


See the other post from this series:

What’s in the Box? Tips for Dealing with Your Weekly Organics Box Produce


Check out past Cook the Story series and find out what’s coming soon.



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  1. #1 by The Mrs on March 24, 2011 - 2:24 pm

    As a matter of fact I have had a bad experience making Empty Out the Fridge Soup.

    Surprise, surprise.

    I made chicken soup two weeks ago to use the roasted chicken carcass to it’s fullest extent, as well as the floppy celery and almost-floppy carrots that my evil fridge was in the process of turning to the dark side. A pretty conventional soup, come to think of it, minus the Star Wars flavour.

    And when I served it the second time, Mr found two bones in his bowl and I found part of the chicken twine in mine.

    Oh yeah, plus it was under seasoned, gloopy, and not good. Especially after I put the leftover squash and carrots in the third time I served it.

    You already knew I was an indifferent cook. This just cements the reputation, I think.

    • #2 by cookthestory on March 24, 2011 - 2:57 pm

      Yikes! Actually, it surprises me that you’re such an indifferent cook given how unindifferent you are to bread-making. Still waiting on that naan! But the pizza looks great (minus the spinach paper, of course).

      I often end up with thick gloopy soup. Thankfully, that is my hub’s favorite so even if I’m not thrilled, he is. Under seasoning happens to me if I don’t use broth or stock as the liquid. I know it seems redundant if there’s a carcass involved but I’ve never managed to get a good liquid unless I have lots of meat going on and/or already-made broth. Although, browning everything really well and adding mushrooms and soy sauce a la Mark Bittman (http://markbittman.com/very-flavorful-vegetable-stock-in-1-hour) helps a lot.

      Trying to figure out why your already not great soup didn’t improved by the addition of leftover squash and carrots on the third day. Hmmm…

  2. #3 by phyllis pittman on March 24, 2011 - 5:42 pm

    The frozen fruit idea is a great way to use up some fruit that is sitting around.
    I find that left over kitchen sink soup is usually only appreciated the first time around, so I try not to make too much other wise it gets thrown out.

    • #4 by cookthestory on March 24, 2011 - 7:37 pm

      This is where that whole “somebody else’s leftovers” thing comes into play. We had our Empty the Fridge Soup for dinner and then you guys got to have some the next day. I was already sick of it (you’re soooo right!) but you guys sure seemed to like it.

  3. #5 by Geni - Sweet and Crumby on March 25, 2011 - 3:24 pm

    Love the frozen fruit smash. Ingenious! Can you believe I have never made empty the fridge soup? !!! Have I been under a rock…at the NASA space station? What a great way to have almost no waste. Are you not having your CSA box delivered any more? I had to cancel mine and miss the good ones terribly.

    • #6 by cookthestory on March 25, 2011 - 5:51 pm

      Thanks Geni!
      I am still getting an organics box (no CSA here, sadly). I think that by being in Florida we luckily get a fairly good variety most of the time. I make the soup and frozen fruit the day before the next box arrives so that I don’t end up wasting anything. Or at least very little.

  4. #7 by crustabakes on March 26, 2011 - 9:07 pm

    The frozen fruit looks smashing indeed, refreshing and healthy! and i like the idea of having lots of random ingredients in the fridge thrown into a pot of deliciousness!

    • #8 by cookthestory on March 27, 2011 - 8:37 am

      Thanks! It is a refreshing and healthy recipe. Smashed up and eaten on its own, it’s the perfect little healthy frozen dessert. Less healthy if you’re pouring it over a large bowlful of ice cream though.

  5. #9 by Rachel on March 29, 2011 - 8:16 pm

    My mom would occasionally make a “clean out the fridge” dish of some sort. She always called it the same thing regardless of “ingredients”… “gehakte tsuris”, which is Yiddish for (more or less) “mixed up trouble” (grin) Always yummy, never scary, mom is still a great cook!

    • #10 by cookthestory on March 29, 2011 - 9:01 pm

      I think I may just have to steal that title for my own fridge-emptying creations. Mixed Up Trouble sounds perfect!

  1. When Kid-Friendly Fare Needs Adult-Friendly Flare « Cook the Story

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