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Back-Of-The-Refrigerator Soup

The great beauty of the slow cooker is its ability to turn even the vaguest scraps into delicious food. Consider this "recipe" a guide to making a hot, healthy meal from items that might otherwise have gone to waste. For the grain, consider using freekeh, roasted green wheat popular in the Middle East. The recipe is intended for a 5-quart or larger slow cooker.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Back-Of-The-Refrigerator Soup i
Michele Kayal for NPR
Back-Of-The-Refrigerator Soup
Michele Kayal for NPR

3 pounds chicken, turkey or ham bones, preferably with a bit of meat on them

1 onion, peeled and quartered

2 celery stalks, roughly chopped

2 large carrots, washed and trimmed, but not peeled

2 large sprigs rosemary

Parsley ends if you have them

2 tablespoons salt

8 cups water

1 cup brown rice or other grain

3 cups shredded Brussels sprouts, chopped green beans and chopped snap peas, or any other vegetables on hand

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Place the bones, onion, celery, carrots, rosemary, parsley, salt and water into the slow cooker. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or on high for 4 to 5 hours.

Strain the stock into a pot, pressing down on the solids. Discard solids.

Taste the broth. If it tastes weak, simmer, uncovered until reduced by about a third. Add the grain, cover the pot, and simmer until the grain is almost cooked, about 45 minutes. Add the vegetables, and salt and pepper to taste. Replace the cover and simmer gently for 15 to 20 minutes, until vegetables are cooked, but not mushy.

Serve with good, crusty bread and a salad.

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