Thursday, February 2, 2012

Parsnip, Potato and Winter Squash Soup

I'm not the best sewer, but for some reason I love sewing paraphernalia. A while back, I inherited quite a bit of it from my grandmother-in-law, and in combing through it, I was touched by her depression-era compulsion to save every last bit, because everything either mattered, or one day might matter. What most struck me was short lengths of thread wrapped around pieces of card stock, or my favorite, an old rolled up Winston cigarette pack. Buckles, buttons and hooks complete the picture of a life spent making do.

Making do is a beautiful and necessary thing. Making do, to me at least, doesn't mean that everything is patched together, falling apart or made of inferior things. Making do is finding the use in everything. It's entirely noble, in my mind, and especially in times like these, most important.

I especially love this theory applied to meals. That is, when something that might be called a left over is magically turned into something special and worthwhile on it's own. Not only am I not the only one who does this, but people have been doing this since they've been cooking. It's how many amazing dishes came to be. And it's how most restaurants are run. What do we need to cook? is what I often ask myself.

Along with sewing stuff, I like to collect cookbooks. The other day my son pulled this one out of the bookshelf, and I thought I'd page through it to see if there was anything good pertaining to cooking with soup. Well, there wasn't. But it's still got that kitchy je ne sais quoi, doesn't it? 

Here's an example of how a soup I made one night turned into several other meals. Leave me a comment---I'd love to hear how you do this.

Parsnip, Potato and Winter Squash Soup

This made enough for dinner one night, and two quarts for the fridge. One quart provided Turkey Cottage Pie the next night, and the other quart stayed refrigerated until I made the pancakes and muffins a full five days later. 

2 cups roasted pureed winter squash*
3 large boiled potatoes, in chunks
2 large boiled parsnips, in chunks

1 medium onion, diced

Saute onion in olive oil until soft and golden. Add parnsnips and potatoes. Mix in squash until just heated. Add 6-8 cups of water, 2 at a time. Wait until the soup is simmering to add the next two cups of water. Let cook at high simmer for fifteen minutes. Puree with immersion blender. Add salt to taste, but keep in mind you are using the soup for other things. Add more salt at the table if necessary.

Serve with a drizzle of rosemary olive oil, and good bread.

* I used a winter squash I grew but forgot the name of. Butternut is fine. Peel, remove seeds, chop to chunks, and roast on a lightly oiled baking tray at 400 degrees until tender when pierced with a fork. Purée when cool.

Turkey Cottage Pie

I'm using the term Cottage Pie loosely. Not the fanciest dish, but a good hearty meal for a mid-week dinner.

Saute one diced onion, add ground turkey (about a pound), add frozen mixed vegetables, cook through.  Put into a buttered 13 x 9 glass baking dish, cover with two cups of soup, which after a night in the fridge, thickened considerably. Dot with butter, sprinkle with grated cheese and/or bread crumbs, bake at 400 degrees for about thirty minutes.

Root Vegetable Pancakes

1 1/2 cups AP flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt

1 1/2 cups buttermilk (yogurt is also fine)
2 eggs
3 tablespoons vegetable oil or melted butter
1/2 cup of Parsnip, Potato and Winter Squash soup (or a similar smooth soup)

Mix dry ingredients, then add the mixed wet ingredients. Let sit for about fifteen minutes. Cook pancakes as you usually do. I find that pancakes that have added ingredients always take a little longer to fully cook. I keep my griddle a little less hot, and make sure to let the pancakes cook a bit longer. An undercooked pancake is very unappetizing. I add no sugar to my pancake batter, but instead top them with butter and maple syrup.

Cheddar and Rosemary Muffins

These muffins are dense and filling, and make a great side dish to a meal, or a quick lunch. 

2 cups of AP flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt

1 cup buttermilk (yogurt is also fine)
1 cup Parsnip, Potato and Winter Squash soup (or a similar smooth soup)
1/4 of a pound of grated cheese, cheddar or gouda are good choices
1 teaspoon of dried rosemary
1 egg
1/3 cup of olive oil

Mix your flours and powders thoroughly. And the same with rest of the ingredients in a separate bowl. Add the wet to the dry in a few brisk strokes. Pour into a 12-muffin tin greased well with olive oil. Bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes. When you take them out of the oven, they will look glorious and puffy. But, like a soufflé, they will deflate a bit. However, they still look charming and taste great.


  1. I love the idea of using the pureed soup in muffins and pancakes! Our miracle left over is bolognese sauce. I always make way more than the two of us can eat on pasta, and discovered the extra is the perfect start for a super quick pot of chili and even a chunky pizza sauce. Now when I make it, I always think there's going to be some to freeze, but we seem to find ways to use it before I get the opportunity. (And my grandma shared that same "waste not, want not" way of life!)

  2. Oh, I'm terrible with leftovers. But I can turn almost anything into a taco—leftover steak, pork chops, roast chicken. Any cooked vegetables usually go into composed salads for lunch the next day.
    Btw, I love Eleanor Roosevelt's quote: "Use it up. Wear it out. Make it do. Do without."

  3. I like making do, too. Why add a bunch of whatever to our lives when we already have perfectly good stuff to eat, wear, etc. I'm not thinking of a very interesting specific instance, but I often make a big pot of beans (flageolets are my favorite) or quinoa or lentils and then use it for several days, in a variety of ways. Same goes for a large pan of roasted vegetables. Basically, I find good mix and match staples very helpful.

  4. Yum! Everything sounds great. I have turned leftovers into many nice meals. Chicken or Turkey as a dinner, then pot pie, then hash for Sunday brunch. Super Bowl chili, IF there are leftovers make a tamale pie or poach eggs in it and serve over tortillas.

  5. Tug's Girl - Sauce has many lives, it's true! I do the same thing. ; )

    gluttonforlife - That's a great quote, Laura, thanks for reminding me of it! You know, I never ever make tacos. Maybe I need to look into that...

    Denise - There is SO much stuff. I'm constantly getting rid of stuff, only to find it creeping back to me in some way or another. It frightens me sometimes to walk down aisles of stores and think of how much stuff there is. Is that crazy? Somehow I think you might say no, not crazy. And beans are great to have on hand!

    Two by the Sea - Thanks, Pat! Hash is a great thing that I haven't made lately. I'll have to change that!

  6. Julia great post - totally inspiring. I always try to cook things that can be used in multiple ways. Roasted beets eaten warm and then saved in a vinaigrette for a later salad. Just yesterday I cooked kale, wild mushrooms, bacon, and roasted shallots. All separate, but then used in savory galette and then a pasta. If there had been more left over, I would have made a frittata today.
    Now what to make this weekend? Maybe your pasnip, potato and winter squash soup:) I have everything here already, so no excuse.

    1. Erin, Roasted beet vinaigrette sounds amazing! And probably gorgeous, to boot. And how can you go wrong with kale, wild mushrooms, bacon and roasted shallots? I would eat them on their own! If you make the soup, I wonder what it will turn into. Something amazing, I'm sure!

  7. Yes, as a much younger person, I watched Poldark with as much passion as I now have watched Downton Abby. My husband found the book series of Poldark and bought them for me. old and yellow and smelly, but still a good read. Thanks for the memory!