Do you ever have that moment, around 3:00 in the afternoon, when you realize you have no dinner plan? You haven’t been to the store, you don’t want to eat out, and you have no idea what to make-your first thought? “Oh Sh*t!”. I usually try to plan at least a day ahead, if not the morning of, so I avoid the late afternoon dinner making chaos but, that said, it still happens.
My best solution? A soup I’m calling “Oh Sh*t” Soup. It comes together in a flash and is the perfect example of utilizing a well stocked pantry. Nothing in here is exotic or unusual and it all lends itself well to substitutions. Everything in here should be in your kitchen already. Measurements are anything but precise and seasonings can vary wildly. It’s a combination of these things:
The end result? A thick, rich soup that is not only tasty but pretty darn good for you. Looks a little something like this:
This isn’t really a recipe but rather a method for transfoming some basic ingredients into something special. Adjust it to your tastes, and your pantry, and you’ll have a quick dinner for those nights when you find yourself saying “Oh Sh*t!”
First, take the basic trinity of vegetables you should always have on hand and dice them up: onion, carrots, and celery. I used 1 small onion, 2 medium carrots, and 2 celery stalks (I threw in a whole clove of garlic, crushed, too). Other veggies that would work? Fennel, sweet peppers, winter squash, or potatoes. Heat some olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat and add the veggies with salt and pepper. Cook the veggies until they are tender and softened, 7-8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Throw in fresh herbs if you’ve got them-I used Italian parsley and fresh oregano from my garden but a touch of dried herbs would work too. I used whole sprigs-about 4 of each, and then fished them out in the end. If you like a little heat, this is a great place to add a pinch of red pepper flakes. If you want to add more protein, you can start this step by browning your favorite ground meat-lamb, beef, pork, sausage, or turkey. Once it’s brown, add the veggies and continue along as follows.
While the veggies are cooking, bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add 8 ounces of farro, barley, brown rice, or quinoa and cook until its just beginning to get tender but is still a bit shy of al dente, cooking time depends on the grain. When its done, drain it well. You can leave this part out all together or even add some orzo to the soup right before it finishes cooking.
To the softened veggies, add some stock (chicken, beef, veal, or veggie all work), about 2 cups, and one 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes. Add the par-cooked grains with another generous pinch of salt and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and cook until the veggies and grains are all very tender, anywhere from 10-30 minutes. Remove the lid and stir in one can of drained and rinsed white beans or chickpeas. Stir and cook until the beans are heated through, another 5 minutes. If the soup is too thick for your liking, you can add additional stock or just hot water until you get the consistency you like. You can cook this until it becomes thick like risotto or add the additional liquid for a thinner, traditional soup.
To finish it off, remove the sprigs of fresh herbs then dice some additional parsley. Ladle the soup into warm bowls, grate some fresh Parm over the top, sprinkle with parsley and enjoy!