Mexican-Inspired Vegetable Soup

Last night I made broth from the roast chicken carcass. I covered the pieces with water and threw in my usual stash of frozen leftover carrot ends, onion ends, and celery stops, a few peppercorns, some salt, dried parsley and thyme. I let it simmer for a few hours, partially covered, then strained it and put it in a few glass jars in the refrigerator.

Tonight I pulled it out and skimmed off the hardened fat. As I threw it in the garbage, I kept thinking there must be something I could do with it. This is the curse of being a frugal cook: everything is expected to serve a purpose! Later when I made the creamed chicken, the recipe called for leftover fat from broth but I’d already tossed it! Oh well. Next time…

I was definitely winging it on the soup and it turned out great. Of course, that probably means I can never make it again but the more I wing things successfully the more confident I get about winging it again another time. Maybe the day will come when I get rid of all my cookbooks! But for now, my modus operandi (?) is to peruse a half a dozen similar recipes and then start cooking. Starting points for this included a Tortilla Soup recipe from “Feed Your Family on $10 a Day“, the soup “formula” from “How to Cook without a Book” by Pam Anderson, and a few other community cookbooks (one of my favorite things to buy at used bookstores, recipes from real non-professional cooks!).

Mexican-Inspired Vegetable Soup

Cumin, red peppers, green chilies and pinto beans lend a Mexican flavor to this vegetable soup.

  • 2 Tbs oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped (ends and peels used to replenish my stock supply!)
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 yellow zucchini, quartered lengthwise then sliced
  • 1/2 cup frozen green beans
  • a bit of leftover diced red peppers from my freezer stash
  • 1 15.5 oz can diced tomatoes with green chilies
  • 1 15.5 oz can pinto beans
  • 1/4 cup rice
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  1. Heat the oil and saute the onion and garlic a few minutes, until softened. Add the other vegetables and saute another few minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer 25 minutes until the rice is done.
  2. Taste and add more cumin, salt, pepper or whatever as so much depends on what your broth tastes like to begin with. Store bought broth tends to be very salty for my taste--and I love salt! But my homemade broth is a bit different every time, depending on how I cooked the chicken (if I'm using cooked chicken bones instead of a raw whole chicken, my other standard) and what stash of vegetables I had in my big old tub of "vegetables for stock" in the freezer.

So use this recipe as a starting point and an inspiration. Use peas instead of green beans, green zucchini instead of yellow, a bit of leftover yellow or orange or green pepper instead of red, throw in some sliced olives, add a turnip or rutabaga, use different beans or no beans, add a chopped potato or another can of a different kind of bean instead of the rice. Don’t like Mexican food? Use other spices instead of the cumin–or use nothing. Soup is the easiest thing to start making without a set recipe. I thought about adding the leftover Potatoes Romanoff to the soup, for example, to make it a creamier soup and I may do that if no one eats the leftover potatoes tomorrow. I also saw a comment on a cooking group about making up your favorite potato salad recipe with mashed potatoes rather than diced and I thought “Hmmm… I wonder what it would taste like if I started with the Potatoes Romanoff rather than plain mashed potatoes!

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  1. i love Chicken Soup it is so yummy.

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