Stone Soup: The Answer to Freezer Odds and Ends

published Feb 6, 2015
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(Image credit: Jessica Fisher)

You know the folk tale of the three hungry soldiers returning from war? After years of hardship, the villagers in the town they come upon are reticent to share any food with them. The soldiers end up tricking the townspeople into contributing a bounty to their Stone Soup. One man brings a hunk of beef while another brings some carrots. A woman and her child contribute potatoes and onions that they “happen” to find in the cellar. The resulting meal is a feast for all to partake of.

There’s a lesson for us home cooks, as well.

No, not swindling your neighbors, but that you really can make something, or at least soup, from practically nothing. And more than that, you can feed a crowd with just little bits of odds and ends.

Rummaging through the odds and ends in your freezer can create soups fit for a king. What you got hidden away in there? Now’s the perfect time to make soup! It doesn’t matter if you just have a little bit of something, many drops fill the ocean — or a soup pot!

Make stock or “bone broth” from whatever meaty bones you have on hand. If you’ve got a roast or a chicken in the freezer, cook that one night and then use what’s left to make the stock and use the leftover meat for your soup.

(Image credit: Jessica Fisher)

How To Make Stone Soup (From the Freezer)

A good stock is a great base for a delicious soup. Once you’ve got your stock ready, you’re good to go in crafting your own Stone Soup.

  1. Start with some fat: Heat butter or oil in a stockpot. This adds flavor as well as a medium for sautéing your vegetables.
  2. Sauté onion and other fresh vegetables: Sauté the onion as well as any chopped potato, carrot, celery, or mushrooms you might have on hand.
  3. Add the stock and any odds and ends in the freezer: Stir in frozen vegetables, cooked meats, that little container of pasta sauce, and that bag of rice or those tortellinis you got there.
  4. Season with herbs and spices: I keep a lot of my custom spice blends in the freezer for extended shelf life so this is a great time to use them up.
  5. Simmer until cooked through: If you want an exact recipe, try my master recipe for Stone Soup; it makes good use of leftovers and is great for cleaning out the freezer.

Flavor Inspiration for Stone Soup

Flavor combinations you might want to try based on what’s in your freezer:

  • Chicken stock, mashed potatoes (just whisk them into the stock), corn kernels, and that random piece of salmon, chopped into bite-sized chunks
  • Beef stock, that small container of beef stew, vegetables
  • Vegetable broth, marinara sauce, tortellinis, vegetables
  • Chicken stock, wontons, vegetables

You’ll be pleasantly surprised at all the fun combinations you can make. Next time you have just a little bit of sauce, vegetables, or meat leftover – not enough for a meal – package it for the freezer as it will add great flavor to your next Stone Soup.