Garbage Soup

Not a dog training blog, but a cooking one today for a change of pace!

Today was the right day to make garbage soup. Garbage soup consists of the leftovers in the fridge that are getting to the end of the lifespan and either need to be used asap or throw away.

Today was the right day for two reasons. First, the fridge definitely needed cleaned out. There were lots of bits of things squirreled away in the corners. And it’s time for a big grocery trip to restock basics. Second, the weather is perfect for soup today. Around 60 degrees with a nice breeze and a bit overcast. As summer comes on strong, soup weather will be gone until fall. So now might be the last big soup making of the season.

I’ve been making garbage soup for 40 years. The beauty of it is that there is no recipe. It’s completely based on what you have available. So it’s truly never the same soup twice. But there is a general plan that I follow depending on the ingredients I find in my fridge and pantry.

The general plan includes:

1. All the stuff in the bottom crisper drawer of my fridge. Usually onions, peppers, carrots, greens, mushrooms, and so on.

2. Beans. I use canned. If I was more energetic and thriftier I would use dried. Again, this depends on what I have in the cupboard. Usually black, garbanzo, lentils, white, kidney, and so on.

3. Canned or frozen veggies I want to use up.

4. Grains. Quinoa, rice, barley, couscous, sometimes pasta or potatoes instead.

5. Vegetable broth. When I’m feeling really energetic I make my own and freeze it. But store bought is fine. I also usually add a bit of tomato paste to the broth to give it a richer flavor.

6. Spices. Always garlic, sea salt, pepper. After that it depends on the direction the soup takes.

I never measure anything. That’s the true beauty of this! But somehow I always end up with about 10-12 servings. I usually put 4 single servings in the freezer for lunches or dinners on future lazy nights.


So here’s what I found today: Onions, peppers, kale, carrots, garlic, ginger, peas, garbanzo beans, veggie broth & barley.

Once I look everything over it helps me decide how to proceed. However, there’s no wrong way to approach this. Because I had garbanzo beans I thought I would go in a Mediterranean direction. I had several onions, red pepper, a chile pepper, and some garlic cloves that I chopped up and then sauteed in olive oil.

Unfortunately, I got involved in chopping the carrots and let those all burn :-{


Luckily I still had an another onion and some garlic left, along with more carrots, so I sauteed those again.


Then I added the chopped carrots (4) to the onions & garlic, along with enough veggie broth to cover. I covered with a lid and let it cook until the carrots start to get a bit tender.


Next I added the rest of a container of veggie broth and some tomato paste. This is where I also add the spices. I had some turmeric, ginger, cumin, coriander, and cayenne, so that took the whole thing in a more Indian direction.

There was some very sad looking kale in the fridge, so I cut the stem out and chopped that up.


I added some leftover peas and the kale. Sometimes I have swiss chard or broccoli or green beans as the green. Whatever I have.



And finally I added the garbanzo beans.


Once I mix it all together I will bring it to a boil, turn it to low, cover, and cook for 2-3 hours. Let it cool and put in the fridge/freezer. It’s really MUCH better when it’s reheated the next day.


Some of the variations I make include:

Mexican: using black beans, quinoa, salsa, peppers. Top with crumbled tortilla chips.

Chili: kidney beans, more tomato paste, beer, peppers. Also top with crumbled tortilla chips.

Italian: minestrone with kidney beans, pasta, zucchini or green beans.

French: lentils, potatoes, mushrooms, onions, garlic.

Cream: potato, broccoli, corn, carrot, cauliflower, whatever. Usually add onions, garlic, mushrooms, white beans. All cooked up and pureed in the Vitamix.

Any type of beans along with rice as the grain is quick and easy.

Hope you enjoyed this post and are inspired to make your own garbage soup. It’s fun & easy!