Now that we have the bread sorted out, let's make it a balanced meal. Because nothing warms me up on a blustery fall day than a dinner of soup and bread. And nothing cleans out the refrigerator better than my family's favorite soup.
This one is never exactly the same twice, because the whole point is to clean out the fridge. You know what I'm talking about. The celery that's not quite as crisp as it should be. The cabbage that you kind of forgot about but still has a little life left. The remnants of whatever else might be in there and not quite worthy of the bin.
This time, I started with this:
Things weren't as questionable as they often are. Because the fridge had been cleaned out pretty recently. But if it makes you happy to pretend that the celery is wilted and the cabbage is less than perfect, go ahead. Because it usually is. You see that jar? It contains about 1/2 cup of brown rice. I was sick of looking at that almost-empty container. And those cans of tomatoes are essential if I want my kids to eat this soup. For them, it's not good soup without a tomato base and a healthy dose of cabbage.
I sauteed the leeks and a couple of cloves of garlic in a tablespoon of olive oil for a few minutes. When they start getting soft and fragrant, I added the other ingredients: the chopped veggies and about a quart of vegetable stock, along with the cans of tomatoes. EXCEPT the cabbage. Save that for the last 15 minutes.
And honestly, that's about all. Let it simmer the whole time you're baking the bread. The longer, the better. Throw in the cabbage for the last fifteen minutes of cooking.
Oh, seasonings? I used my old standby fresh herbs from the garden: thyme, oregano, basil. There was some shady-looking parsley in the fridge, so in it went. And some celery salt and pepper. If you have other favorites, substitute away.
And when it looks like this, it's ready to eat. Unless you have my kids, in which case you're going to need a few ice cubes. Maybe they're Russian?