There are so many ways to use leftovers but having eaten so much on Christmas Day the pleasure of having a large bowl of hot soup is soothing. Even more comforting is using up lots of those Christmas leftovers. Even if you do not intend to make soup, make the stock and freeze it for later use. It will keep in the freezer for up to a year. Leave the onion skins on to add colour to the stock.
Follow the instructions if you are making this recipe fresh but if you are using leftovers add any root vegetables, pureed or not, towards the end. Add mushrooms if you have them and there is nothing amiss about using cauliflower or broccoli either. In other words, just add all your leftover vegetables, up to about 4 or 5 cups worth. The only thing I do not like to use are leftover potatoes because they can be used for potato pancakes and when roasted they make good hash browns.
If you don’t like barley boil noodles separately and add them to the soup when serving. Barley will cause the soup to thicken as it stands. If made the day before, it may need to be thinned when reheated.
Lemony sorrel grows like a weed in the garden and is available in all farmers’ markets. It is often sold at the supermarket as an herb. Substitute 1/2 cup baby spinach and 1 tbsp lemon juice if you can’t find it. The avocado thickens the soup but does not flavour it.
During the four years Victoria Hutton lived in Jakarta, she fell in love with the fresh, pungent flavours of Indonesian food. With an abiding interest in cooking, she decided to explore the cuisine and write a book, now in the planning stages, for non-Indonesians. One of her favourite dishes is Soto Ayam, the popular chicken noodle soup served with many garnishes. It makes a wonderful family dinner as everyone chooses their own add-ins.
The aromatic spice paste in this dish is one of the hallmarks of Indonesian cooking. It used to be a back-breaking chore to pound the chilies and other spices into a paste, but nowadays a blender or food processor does the job. The turmeric in the paste gives the soup a lovely yellow hue. Fresh turmeric, a perennial plant of the ginger family, is available in Asian stores. If you can’t find it, the dried version works well.
Fried shallots are a popular garnish for many dishes in Indonesia. Shallots have much less water than larger onions, so they fry up crisp without the addition of flour. They can be made ahead of time and stored in an airtight container for up to two weeks.
This hearty winter soup has enough flavour to complement the sandwich. The barley absorbs a lot of stock and when left to sit overnight, absorbs even more. Add water if it gets too thick. If you have no leeks, increase the onion. I tear rather than cut mushrooms because I like the unusual shapes I get. The mushrooms are all fresh. I also like a touch of cayenne at the end, but that’s a personal preference.
The unusual stock for this ramen noodle soup features ingredients with uniformly strong umami profiles. When you’re making it, remember that crafting stock is not an exact science: The amounts of each ingredient do not have to conform precisely to the recipe – you are looking for a combination of ingredients to give a certain taste. The dried mushrooms can be any flavour – I often use the Chinese dried ones. Parmesan rind, another ingredient, is available at some supermarkets such as Whole Foods and also at some cheese stores. (I save the rind of my Parmesan when it is finished and it keeps for months. It is an essential ingredient in Italian stews and soups for added flavour. Keep it in the freezer.)
The strongly flavoured broth used here is excellent for poaching eggs and superb for sauces. It is also the perfect stock for bean soups and enhances pasta sauces. For this ramen dish, I use chicken stock with some soy sauce and ginger in it as an easy substitute. Frozen ramen noodles are available at some Asian supermarkets; otherwise, use the dried.
I spent an exhilarating day in St. Petersburg recently, viewing the magnificent treasures of the Hermitage Museum. Tired and hungry by lunchtime, we wanted a typical Russian meal. Our guide took us to a restaurant that specialized in solyanka, a soup made with pickles, pickle brine and at least three types kinds of smoked meat. Pastrami, smoked ham, sausages, frankfurters, chicken and bacon are all options, but it is common to add some typical Russian boiled sausage that’s similar to bologna. (You can chop all the meat into the same sized cubes or not – it doesn’t affect the taste.) I used pancetta, chorizo and Montreal smoked meat – you can use whatever you can find at the store or butcher. This dish has become a hearty dinner staple in our household, served with with sour cream, lots of dill and good rye bread. It is like eating a smoked-meat sandwich in a soup.