If you’re like me you hate going out in cold damp weather, you’re low on groceries, and your fridge and pantry are filled with miscellaneous odds and ends. You have spaghetti sauce but no pasta; a head of cabbage that you bought accidentally thinking it was lettuce; canned beans but no hamburger to make chili; a sprig of parsley you’re not sure what to do with; one sad and lonely jalapeno; a forgotten bag of onions that seem to be sprouting stalks; and 5 potatoes too small to bake or take seriously.
Hodgepodge Soup is souper easy. See what I did there? It’s perfect for days like this when it’s cold and wet and you really don’t feel like going to the store. It’s also great for cleaning out your fridge. As long as you have some kind of stock or broth (or means of making your own, such as a whole chicken, ham bone, or spaghetti sauce) you can make this.
First: Raid & Chop Everything Up
Raid the fridge, freezer, and pantry, and take all the random vegetables, canned foods, and leftovers out. Cut everything that needs cutting into bight sized cubes or slices.
Second: The Liquid Base
This can be water, tomato or spaghetti sauce (with water added), and / or chicken, vegetable, or beef broth. Note that if you have a whole chicken or a ham bone, boiling these will create a GREAT broth. Of course, you’ll want to fish the bones and meat out before proceeding to the next step though (save the meat for later. You’re just fishing it out now so it doesn’t get overcooked).
Third: Dense Veggies
Things that are going to take longer to cook, such as potatoes and carrots should be added first. If you’re using sweet potatoes, add them about 5 minutes before regular potatoes and carrots. The bigger you cut them the longer they’ll need to cook. Bring to a boil.
Fourth: Spicy Veggies*
Once the potatoes are soft enough to break with a fork (about 10 minutes if you cut them big), lower the heat, and add your spicy veggies like onions, garlic, bell peppers, and jalapenos. Dice them chunky, and put them in the pot. Bring to a low boil.
Fifth: Soft Veggies & Fruit
Immediately after, throw in your soft veggies and fruits, like tomato, celery, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, squash, zucchini, corn, cabbage, green onions, etc.. Bring to a low boil.
Sixth: Leftovers & Canned Food
Once everything starts looking almost done, dump in any already cooked stuff; roast chicken, grilled steak, cooked rice, boiled pasta, canned beans, frozen peas, etc.. Return to a low boil and then (assuming everything looks done) turn off the stove.
Seventh: Raw Fruit & Veggies
Now throw in your raw bean sprouts, spinach, diced lemon or lime, cilantro, sage, basil, mint, chives, thinly sliced mushrooms, etc.. Your soup will be so hot at this point that they’ll cook in about 2 minutes, even with the burner off.
And, it’s done!
This soup is pretty forgiving. Pretty much the worst thing that can happen is your potatoes will get over-boiled and disintegrate, but that’s OK, because they’ll still add substance even if no one realizes they’re there.
The cooking time will depend largely on what and how much you put in (the denser the soup, the longer it takes). In general, it shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes. Maybe 45 if you count the dicing and chopping.
*NOTE: If you want to add pasta that’s raw, look at the box and see how long it’s supposed to boil, and add it to the soup approximately that long before you think it will be done. Also keep in mind that the pasta will absorb a lot of your liquid, so watch the pot and add a few cups of hot water as needed.