How many times have you looked in your refrigerator, staring at the shelves, wondering what you can make with hardly any ingredients? You have a handful of items that could be something, but you don’t even know where to start. I would be willing to bet that at that exact moment, you are simultaneously leafing through your drawer of take out menus, deciding on pizza or Chinese.
Many avid cooks and trained chefs pride themselves on the ability to prepare a three course meal from scraps in the refrigerator and pantry. While we won’t be making anything that extensive, The Chronicles of an Empty Fridge series will be taking a look at an otherwise empty fridge and turning those last few lonely items into a whole new meal. A little creativity will go a very long way.
Let’s take a look at this week’s remaining ingredients:
- Meyer lemons
- Half an onion
- Orange juice
- White wine
- Green pepper
- Parmesan cheese
We have quite a bit of produce that might make this week’s recipe an easier one and there is a great opportunity to keep this dinner healthy.
- 1 green bell pepper
- 1/2 yellow onion
- 3-4 carrots, peeled
- 2 cups fresh spinach
- 4-6 meatballs or 1/4 pound ground beef
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/4 tsp chili powder (more or less for spiciness)
- 6 cups stock (chicken, beef, or vegetable)
- 2 tortillas
- 2 tbsp canola oil
- salt & pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Begin by coarsely dicing the bell pepper, onion, and carrots. Add the vegetables to a saucepan with the stock of your choice, and set over medium high heat. Allow the stock to come to a boil and reduce your heat until your liquid begins to simmer slightly, about medium to medium high heat. Add the bay leaf, chili powder, and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer until vegetables are just cooked through, about 25 minutes (check for doneness with the point of a sharp knife.).
While the vegetables cook, use up to two tortillas to prepare the crispy tortilla strips. Cut the tortillas into quarters and then into thin strips about a quarter of an inch thick. Place the strips on a cookie sheet lined with foil and drizzle lightly with canola oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in the preheated oven for about 8-12 minutes or until the strips begin to turn golden and crispy. Remove from the oven and allow the strips to cool and dry out.
If you happen to have meatballs for this recipes, use a fork to break up the cooked meatballs and add the meat to the simmering stock and vegetables. If you need to prepare your meat from a raw state, ensure that you cook the meat thoroughly before adding it to the soup. If you use already prepared meat, such as chicken or ground turkey cut or break up the pieces about the same size as your vegetables and add to the soup.
Add the spinach and cook until the spinach begins to wilt. Remove from heat and serve immediately, topping the soup with a handful of cooled tortilla strips and a dollop of sour cream.
This soup can serve 4 to 6 guests, with plenty to spare for tomorrow’s lunch at the office if you happen to be cooking for 2. Consider using many of these ingredients for other recipes, such as quesadillas, a classic veggie stir fry or roast, or another favorite of mine, grilled vegetable balsamic couscous. Use your memory of the way ingredients taste to pair them together and test your ideas.