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Tuesday, December 30, 2003

No Recipe Pumpkin Soup Recipe

Necessity is the mother of invention. Nothing could be truer in the kitchen. It's amazing what you can cook when you have very little in the pantry. It can be much more challenging and yet gratifying to try to figure out what do with the ingredients on hand than to come up with a new menu from scratch.

Coming home from vacation means coming home to an empty fridge. If you're lucky. If not, you've probably got some smelly clean up to do. Keeping certain canned foods on hand can insure that you will be able to make a meal from virtually nothing. A few things I always keep on hand are garbanzo beans, jars of artichoke hearts and canned pumpkin puree. With garbanzo beans you can make a one-pot meal, you just combine the beans, cooked couscous and a few chopped steamed vegetables. With artichokes you can make a simple pasta sauce by chopping the artichokes and adding them to store bought tomato sauce. Or just saute some garlic in olive oil and add the artichokes to that--voila! instant pasta sauce. Finally with canned pumpkin you can make a terrific soup.

Here's how I make quick, "nothing-in-the-house" cream of pumpkin soup. In a pot cook 2-3 tablespoons of salsa from a jar over low heat for about 2 minutes, mix in a 14 oz. can of pumpkin puree, a chicken bouillon cube and a cup of milk. You can use some heavy cream or half and half for part of the milk if you have it on hand. Stir and heat on medium, but don't boil. This tastes much fancier than you might think but taste it and add salt, more milk, some water to thin it down, whatever you like.