Sunday, June 21, 2015

Recipe Week: Scraped Icebox and Dishrag Soup

(Recipe Week concludes with a dish that is similar to Gunk a la Erin, only fancier. Think of this as the kitchen version of Erin's camping recipe.)

My other half and I love to eat. We insist on eating well. And we're both well-trained, creatively-minded chefs who have gone through periods of "so dirt poor there wasn't even a pot to piss in" that forced us to learn how to make do and still eat well.

We're also both massive geeks. My copy of Robert Heinlein's Farnham's Freehold has been re-read so often that I eventually named one of my bare pantry recipes after a passage in the book. Hugh Farnham (the main character) is discussing "lean times" with one of the other characters. He mentions that while he was in the military as a low grade grunt during World War 2, his alcoholic wife had been a real trooper, making due with practically nothing, and frequently being reduced to "scraped icebox and dishrag soup" while awaiting meager paychecks.

This is still a go-to recipe for me, even though these days I don't have the serious money crunch as often as I did in the past. Use this as a rough outline and adjust to taste and availability!

  • 6 to 8 cups water
  • 4 to 6 medium potatoes, cut into small chunks
  • 1 medium onion, rough chopped 
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced (or about 1/2 tsp garlic powder) 
  • 1 16 ounce can tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes
  • 1 to 1 1/2 lbs meat, cooked. (roast, hamburger, sausage, chicken, venison, whatever)
  • 1 can each green beans, corn, carrots (or 1 bag frozen mixed veggies, or about 2 cups of fresh)
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp each Oregano, Parsley (or whatever spices you prefer and have on hand)
  • salt & pepper to taste

  1. Brown meat if it isn't cooked, chopping into small pieces. 
  2. Place meat, veggies, tomato sauce, and spices in large pot, adding enough water to cover everything and begin to float the veggies. 
  3. Bring to a boil, allow to simmer (covered over low heat) for 30 to 45 minutes, until potatoes are soft and meat is cooked through.

Chef's Notes
  • Using whatever happens to be ripe in the garden works well with this for seasonal variations. I've been known to use leftover spaghetti sauce for the tomato, as well as tossing a couple of fresh tomatoes from the garden into the blender on puree. 
  • 2 Cups of cooked rice can be substituted for the potatoes as a starch variant.
  • Any combination of spices and seasonings can be used:
    • Cumin and a bit of chili powder will give you a Mexican taste.
    • Curry powder works well for an Indian variant. 
    • Substituting Soy for the Worcestershire and using ground ginger and cilantro will give you an Asian variant.

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