A few weeks ago my mom asked me if I had any go-to recipes of my own. I love to cook. I don’t get as much time to do it as I used to, so my crockpot and I have become bff’s. Being able to throw everything in a pot in the morning and forget about it until it’s time for dinner is the best thing ever. Especially since the baby is usually in good spirits and more independent in the morning. By the time dinner rolls around he’s cranky, clingy, and in no way, shape, or form is going to let me put him down. This totally solves that problem.
It really solves two problems. The second being leftovers. By the end of the week I have odds and ends of every dinner we’ve had that week, which varies greatly week in and week out. I’m a couponer, I only buy what’s on sale. If it’s not on sale that week, we’re not eating it. My grocery budget is $60 per week, which is pretty good for a family of four, without taking it to the extreme. So at any point and time there’s no telling what’s in my fridge. That’s what makes this great, it changes every time but it always turns out delicious. I’ve been doing this for the past almost 4 months now and my husband is none the wiser. He has no idea he’s eating reinvented leftovers. Tricky, I know. But waste not want not, alright?
I always start with a cream-of-something soup. Cream-of-something because it really doesn’t matter if it’s cream of chicken, cream of mushroom, cream of celery, just whatever you got, through that in there according to package directions (if it’s condensed, add the can of water). That’s going to be your base. It replaces the heavy cream most potato soup recipes call for, because I never have heavy cream. Let’s be real, that shit is expensive and I always find great deals on cans of soup. I have this stockpile in my downstairs pantry that I always go through and figure out which cans are going bad first. I found the biggest cans of cream of mushroom soup this week so I’ve been trying to use those up. So guess what my base was this week?
Next is some form of potato. I had made this cheese-y hash brown bake this week, so into the pot it went. This can be raw potatoes that you’ve washed and diced, a bag of frozen hash browns, I’ve even thrown in a box mix of those scalloped potatoes. If you’re using the box mix throw in that seasoning packet for good measure. I’m telling you, its pretty fool proof.
So you have your base and now its just add-ins. That half of an onion in the back of the fridge? Dice it up and throw it in. a few green onions about to go bad? Chop those babies up and into the pot they go. Leftover bacon from breakfast a few days ago that your husband didn’t bother to repackage and are getting chewy and gross? Cut them up and throw them in. Some leftover meatloaf? Cut it up and throw it in. While you’re at it that clove of garlic that got buried in the veggie drawer thats a few days away from sprouting, mince it up and put it in the pot. If you’re lacking in the fresh onion or garlic department I’m willing to bed you have onion powder and garlic powder in your pantry and that will work too. You just need some aromatics for flavor. I’ve also added the last of what was left in the sour cream, half and half, leftover chicken stock, some cream cheese, a couple stalks of celery, a few chopped up carrots… like I said. Whatever needs used up by the end of the week gets put in the pot.
The one thing there is no substitute for is Velveeta cheese. This is one ingredient you need to have in order to make it thick and cheese-y. There’s just no way around it. Cut a sizeable chunk off the block, cut it into smaller cubes, and dump them in the pot.
Let it cook in your slow cooker for 6-8 hours on low, or until your potatoes and other veggies are tender. Don’t forget to salt and pepper to taste before serving!
For an extra somethin’ somethin’ I’ve even mixed up some quick biscuit dough and dropped in some dumplings at the end. If you want to do this, make sure your soup is bubbling hot, drop in your dumplings, and let cook for 10 more minutes. Otherwise your biscuit dough will just dissolve and thicken your soup, which is no good because this soup is thick enough as it is. Trust me.
If you’re not feeling up to making some dumplings you can always throw some croutons on top for a little crunch. That’s the way I like it, but my husband is a dumpling guy, so sometimes I have to give in and just make the damn things.
I know it’s not necessarily a “real” recipe… But I just thought I’d share an idea that I use that helps us save a little more, use up leftovers, and tastes great. If you try it out or have any questions, please let me know!