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Story of a Stew, or Soup, or Crock of Leftovers

Categories: Cooking, Crockpot, Food


Once upon a time there was a woman who had no idea what to feed her family for dinner. What? Have you heard this story before? It was cold outside. Too cold and icy for the delicate flower to venture out anywhere. And so she set about to make dinner from stuff she already in the house. Yes! How novel! How truly pioneer like! So THAT is what a pantry is supposed to be used for!


It snows a lot in the winter where I live. I hate snow. I hate feeling trapped in my house, and no matter how prepared I am I always feel like I am missing something vital once the storm hits. Like candy. Or wine. Or earplugs.

Last week we had a major storm roll through that dumped lots of snow. And then topped it off with a few layers of ice just in case the snow alone was not enough.

I was in the mood for a nice homemade soup or stew. But I really had nothing with which to make it. Or so I thought.

I grabbed stew meat out of the freezer and stuck it frozen right in the crockpot.

Then I poured the box of creamy tomato soup into the crockpot. I really like the Imagine brand soups. They are all natural, but also gluten free and dairy free.

I set the crockpot to high, put the lid on it, and set about to find more stuff to put in the stew. Or soup. I wasn’t sure yet what to call it.

I went into the refrigerator and began looking at all the leftover foods in there. I had a sad package of carrots. Leftover from Christmas when we bought them to leave for Rudolph. They weren’t rotten or anything, just looked dried out. The moist crockpot cooking would plump them right back up, I reasoned. So I grabbed them.

In the drawer I also found some limp celery and half of an onion that was suffering from the same affliction as the carrots. I grabbed them out, too.

In the other drawer was a bunch of mismatched potatoes. Oh sure, I know what you are thinking. How can potatoes be mismatched? What does that mean, Chris?

Well, I don’t know about you, but I never estimate the right amount of food. So I buy a bunch of Idaho potatoes with which to make mashed potatoes, and I will end up with a potato leftover because it just wouldn’t fit in the pot. Then I buy some of those adorable small potatoes for roasting in the oven with oil and spices, and again I find I have more potatoes than room in the baking dish. And before I know it, I have a mismatched potatoes that aren’t enough by themselves to make anything.

Whoa, way to get off track with a long a story. All of which is just to say, I grabbed out those potatoes, cradled them to my bosom and said, “Can’t we just all get along, my tasty, carby friends?”

I scrubbed them up. Chopped ‘em up. And tossed them in the crock with the diced onion, diced celery, and scrubbed, but not peeled sliced carrots.

Then I put the lid back on the crockpot and let it cook all day long. My favorite thing about cooking with the crockpot is that the house smells delicious all day long. And the kids, in spite of their inherent pickiness, also think that the house smells delicious and therefore they are more apt to taste the food.

After it had cooked on high for about 5 hours, I turned it to low and tossed in half a bag of frozen corn.

A few hours later I served it. It was delicious. And I thought, damn I should have taken photos along the way.

To recap:

1.5 - 2 lbs stew beef
potatoes, cut into chunks
carrots, sliced
onion, chopped
celery, sliced
32 oz organic, creamy tomato soup
frozen corn

And she lived happily ever after. Thinking that if she could just find stuff in her pantry with which to make her own wine, it would be perfect.

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6 comments so far...

  • Not sure what I enjoyed more: the recipe; or the story of how it came to be!

    Never tried to crock-roast carrots without peeling them (yes, I was paying attention). Does that help limp ones maintain moisture? They sure look plump in that photo.

    jolyn  |  January 16th, 2009 at 3:03 am

  • awesome. completely awesome.

    crockpot lady  |  January 16th, 2009 at 2:03 pm

  • oh this sounds so yummy. i bet it would even be yummy with out the meat and other random veggies that need to be used up!

    this may be dinner tomorrow night! i will be making fresh bread though, because i am all about the breadmaker (mine has a gluten free setting, shall i make you some gluten free fresh bread and send it? haha!) it also has a jam setting but the thought of cleaening out the bucket full of jam makes me think that setting will never be used.

    i digress. the picture is making me drool. perhaps i should get some lunch, too bad there isnt stew in this office!!

    kate  |  January 16th, 2009 at 4:17 pm

  • I have old cookbooks that DO tell you how to make your own wine out of stuff in your pantry! Sadly, you have to wait forever until it’s ready.

    Brigitte  |  January 17th, 2009 at 2:10 pm

  • perfect. People ask me for my crockpot recipes and sometimes, honestly, I just have to say “I don’t use one.” it’s kind of a combination of every leftover vegetable in the house + stew meat or chicken, and it works.
    A can of beans (any kind) can stretch a “recipe” like this, too.

    Daisy  |  January 19th, 2009 at 1:33 am

  • My mother calls that “necessity is the mother of invention stew”.

    LizP  |  January 22nd, 2009 at 12:10 am