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)
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.
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