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I have always been keen to waste as little food as possible but the art of recycling leftovers has become more important than ever in these straightened economic times. Winter is an ideal time for this pursuit because a multitude of leftovers can be added to soup.

The last week I made a South East Asian style soup for dinner a la Linda’s Asoupsian Inspiration. For the stock I used some chicken bones that I had squirreled away in the freezer from various chicken meals and added the contents of the vegetable stock bag that also lives in the freezer (this contains onion ends, carrot peel and ends, herb stalks etc). When the stock was done I used about 2/3 to make the soup adding the various Asian flavours recommended by Linda. I put some udon noodles and thinly sliced pork in the boiling stock and let everyone choose their own assortment of vegetables to add to their bowl. There was some soup left over so I chopped the noodles, added the rest of the stock, a can of tomatoes, cooked kidney beans (from the freezer), a couple of left-over sausages, chopped potato and carrot, peas and chopped mizuna (no cabbage ready in the garden). Lo and behold my Asian soup was transformed into Italian Minestrone!

Later in the week I made a honey cake which I liked but no. 4 son didn’t so it went stale in the tin. It was recycled into a microwaved chocolate steam pud (an Alison Holst Microwave Cookbook recipe). I served it with custard the first night and with pears and cream the next night.

This week we started off with an Alison Holst slow-cooker barley soup which we had for dinner and then for several lunches. On Friday, I added the leftover lentils from the previous night plus some bacon stock and sauteed bacon, onion and garlic and we had it for dinner. On Sunday, I added the left over beef casserole from Saturday. Now there is enough soup for lunches this week.

Of course you need to be very careful with food hygiene when recycling food like this.  Hot foods need to be cooled as quickly as possible and then stored in the fridge. When they are reheated they need to be hot right through – I usually simmer my recycled soups for at least 5 minutes before serving.

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