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January brings with it the settling in of winter and all the chilly days that come with it. One of the best defenses against winter chills is a good coat and warm hat. But, coming in a close second are tasty, soothing soups. And, soups lend themselves to being a meal where leftovers can really shine. This month, tasty side dish salads are reincarnated as satisfying soups.
One of the great things about making soup is that so many food items can find their way into it without sacrificing flavor and texture. In fact, soup is one of those dishes that really allows you to play around with recipes. One can get away with adding and subtracting ingredients in a soup in a way that would likely cause chaos in your average cake or cookie recipe. For the experienced cook, they offer the opportunity to never offer the same bowl of soup twice (unless you find a really good combination). For the amateur, they offer the chance to build the confidence to experiment in the kitchen. Either way, they're great fun and simple to make.
This month's series of recipes combine favorite side dish salads and soups that transform the leftovers into new culinary wonders. A spicy vegetable salad becomes the base of a creamy chowder with a southwestern kick. A classic dinner salad becomes a simple Italian soup that becomes a complete meal when paired with crusty bread and a glass of red wine. A hearty potato salad that's perfect with burgers or sloppy joes comes back later as a rich soup that's pure bliss when served with BLTs. It's as simple as thinking ahead.
You can always take advantage of leftovers when it comes to making soups. That roasted chicken would be great in a chicken and dumpling soup. Leftover ratatouille can be heaven in a hearty vegetable and pasta soup. Imagine pulled roast beef making it into an onion soup or diced ham added to split pea soup. And then, there are those times that I actually go into my refrigerator and gather all of the leftovers and come up with something that never would have occurred to me without them. It just takes a little courage and imagination. You have my permission to try!
To start you out, here are a few of my favorite salad-to-soup combination recipes. Enjoy!