Sunday, January 18, 2009

Making use of leftovers

To be honest, I'm not a fan of leftovers. When food sits in the cold for eight, twenty-four, or forty-eight hours, it changes the composition of what was once something edible and delicious. Rice and pasta get hard. Meats dry out. Veggies go limp. Flavors mutate.

But sometimes there are leftovers. In these hard economic times (and in general, really), it would be silly to waste such perfectly good — well, decent — food. After picking me up at the airport, my mom brought me back to her house for a turkey lunch. I ended up being sent to my own home with a ziptop bag of meat and a container of mashed potatoes.

Finding a way to use the leftovers was easy at first. I made a version of shepherds pie, with seasoned, chopped turkey and peas, topped with the potatoes mixed with Parmesan. I found other uses for the turkey meat, which I'm not remembering right now. But the rest of the mashed potatoes remained, in a little plastic tub that once held Smart Balance spread. (Thanks, Mom, for reusing containers.) After a few days, I knew I'd better find a use for them before it reached the point where they were too far gone to be eaten.

So they became potato soup. It's a fairly natural progression from mashed to soup: just add some more liquid and some flavor enhancers. There's no point in even posting a recipe because it was so simple and can be adjusted to your personal tastes. Basically, I sauteed some onions and garlic in a little olive oil, then added the potatoes to the pan with enough chicken broth and a little heavy cream to thin it out. I sprinkled in some dried thyme and seasoned it with pepper and salt (because my mom hadn't put in a lot of either into her potatoes). Then it was done. Once in the bowl, I threw on some sesame seeds and a drizzle of olive oil.

And there you have it: mashed potato soup. It made for a nice lunch with a salad to accompany it.

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