Cooking up a pot of soup is a classic way to feed a crowd, but what if you're a single person who often cooks for one? Can you still have your soup and eat it too? Read on for a few tips on how a single diner can enjoy several meals from one pot of hot, delicious soup.
1. Freeze It. This is the obvious response and a good one. Leftover soup freezes really well. There's nothing like coming home from a long, hard day and reaching into your freezer for something that will quickly become a hot, nourishing, homemade dinner. Issues can arise around freezer space: apartments don't always have full-sized freezers and one batch of leftover soup can quickly fill it to capacity. On the opposite note, having a large freezer isn't always the solution. Knowing that I can toss leftovers in the freezer has lead this cook to go a little overboard with her soup making enthusiasm!
Be sure to divide your soup into individual containers and label each container with the name of the soup and the date it was made.
2. Add New Accompaniments. Try eating your soup with different sides each time. Swap out crusty french bread with some cornbread, for example. Or toast some pita or flatbread or papadams. Soup and salad is a good combo but try adding a sandwich for round two.
3. Puree It. Changing the texture will go a long way towards making leftover soup seem like something new. Simply blend in a food processor or blender (stick blenders are the best). When serving, drizzle olive oil and sprinkle a few fresh herb leaves for a flavor boost, or add some croutons for texture.
4. Add New Elements. Consider adding a dollop of pesto to your reheated leftover soup to change the flavor. Or stir in a few tablespoons of cream or creme fraiche to introduce a rich, dairy element. If it's a vegetable soup, add some sliced cooked sausage or shredded chicken while reheating. Even a few tablespoons of fresh chopped herbs would be nice. Other additions are rice, barley, faro or other grains, or a new vegetable like a can of chopped tomatoes or frozen peas.
5. Make Smaller Batches. Soup often involves a lot of chopping so it's tempting to make a large pot while you're at it, but you can often cut a soup recipe in half with good results. Cooking isn't always about efficiency, so don't make more than you think you can eat in a couple of meals.
6. Make Pot Pie or Shepard's Pie! If you have a leftover broth-based soup like chicken vegetable, beef vegetable or just plain vegetable, heat it up on the stove and then thicken it with a slurry. Pour it into a pie tin or casserole dish and top with either puff pastry, savory pie dough, or layers of filo dough and bake in a 350 degree oven until the top is cooked through and golden brown. All three toppers are available frozen from the grocery store, and if you get a reputable brand (Trader Joe's is a good choice) it will be almost as good as homemade. And of course you can keep your own homemade pie dough in the freezer, too!
7. Invite a Friend. Soup is often better the second time around, so don't feel bad about asking friends over for 'leftovers.' People always love homemade soup, and it's such a simple meal to throw together. Just pick up some good bread on the way home, toss a simple salad and there you go: an almost instantaneous weeknight dinner party.
What tricks have you used to help you work your way through a pot of soup?
Related: Soup's On! 7 Ways to Make Any Soup Creamier
(Images: Dana Velden)