On my hob, two pots are simmering gently. One contains a nice easy soup; the remains of yesterday’s turkey-stock-based gravy with leftover vegetables (sweet potato, parsnip, onion, sprouts, carrots & leeks) just dropped in & stick-blended. Took seconds, tastes gooooood; real comfort food for a lazy Boxing Day. The other has the skin & bones of the goose, picked clean of flesh, broken up & boiling away with some herbs, seasoning, roughly-chopped onion, carrot & celery. The veg were bought cheaply as our weekend market closed a couple of weeks back; they’re the biggest, toughest & leafiest ones that more discerning shoppers evidently didn’t want, & they’ll be full of overwhelming flavour. You wouldn’t want them in a salad but they’ll be adding plenty of body to my stock; peelings will go to the rabbit with her breakfast tomorrow. (She seems to do all right on them, before anyone tells me she shouldn’t have them, as she’s nearly 7 now.) The fat will be skimmed off, chilled to solidify, lifted off any remaining stock, heated up again & strained to render down into a pure white substance to keep in the fridge, which will make the nicest, crispiest roast potatoes well into 2013. The turkey remains will be demolished later; most of the meat will be made into a curry supper for tonight and tomorrow that carcass too will be in the stockpot. Most of the stock will be frozen in batches, to be defrosted & used in soups for weeks to come, and small scraps of meat will be frozen in little containers to give those a bit of body.
Why do people turn their noses up at soup, or view it just as a starter for a “real” meal? And why do some of the most impecunious people I know just throw their festive leftovers away? There’s so much taste & goodness left in there; you’re only getting about a quarter of the value you could be getting out of your money (and that creature’s sacrifice) if you just throw it away after one meal, when you’ve eaten the “best” bits! We normally have a roast on a Sunday, then (time allowing) leftovers of whatever sort, apart from those destined to be made into another main meal, will be made into a big pot of soup on Monday morning, by whichever method is most appropriate, but usually involving the stockpot or the slow cooker. Those of us who work from home will have this for lunch well into the week. When I had my shop, I took flasks of soup in for lunch most days.
Soup is Bibilical – mess of pottage, anyone? – a well-known restorative for invalids & convalescents, and historically a mainstay of peasant diets, though of course, sometimes there just plain weren’t any other options. The best soups are seasonal, delicious, and all round good for you. It’s easy to add in foraged goodies like fresh young nettle leaves or garlic mustard without anyone with delicate sensibilities noticing. It’s even possible that they eat it on other planets – anyone else remember the Soup Dragon from The Clangers?! And what could be more heartwarming than knowing it’s filling your stomach with goodness without emptying your purse?