If I had to pick a favorite food group, it would have to be soup. From bisques to bouillabaisses, I love them all. So when it's cold outside, soup is often my go-to meal.
Matching the boundlessness of my love for soup is the boundlessness of the quantities of soup I tend to make. So I often have leftovers. Soup freezes well, but unfreezing a huge block of soup can take longer than simply whipping up a new batch. So, more often than I'd like to admit, I have found myself with three or four giant vats of soup in the refrigerator in various stages of petri dish.
Last year I volunteered to make cupcakes for my son's Valentine's Day party at school. Naturally, I wanted them to be heart-shaped. Naturally. I found a remaindered batch of silicone heart molds and had just enough to make 24 chocolate hearts. Awesome. But there was just one problem. Now I had 24 heart-shaped silicone molds.
But then I discovered that just as baked goods sprung magically from the molds, so, too, do frozen ones as well. Now, whenever I make enough soup to serve an army, I just put the molds on a sheet tray, ladle them full of soupy goodness, and pop them in the freezer to firm up. Then I can pop them out of the molds and into a freezer bag. When it's time to pack my lunch, I just pop a few soup hearts into a container--portion control is easy, and I don't have to worry that somewhere between my house and my office I'll end up coated in the leaked contents of last night's split pea soup. Score!
White Bean Soup with Kale and Sausage
This isn't so much a recipe as a formula for soup. Use what you have and what you like.
32 oz cooked white beans (navy or cannellini work well)
1 large head kale or mustard greens
1/2 lb Italian sausage (hot or mild), casings removed
1 shallot, finely chopped 1 rib celery, finely chopped
1 T olive oil (or bacon grease, if you have that lying around)
Water or stock
1. In a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat, brown the sausage in the oil. When the sausage is nearly cooked through, add the celery and shallot, stirring to coat with the oil. Add a pinch of salt and sweat the vegetables until they are crisp-tender.
2. Add beans, kale, and water (if you reserve the cooking liquid from your beans, through that in, too) to cover, about 2 quarts.
3. Simmer over medium-low heat for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
That's it! Hearty and healthy soup that is ready to serve or freeze.