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Friday, March 7, 2014

Leftover makeover: leftover soup becomes a family-size casserole

I make a lot of soup for dinner in winter. Which means, we have leftover soup on a regular basis. Sometimes there's enough for another family meal of soup. But when there's not quite enough for all 5 of us, I transform leftover soup into a meal that stands on its own.

My favorite leftover soup makeover wouldn't win any culinary prizes, but it's easy, filling and tasty -- It's Soup Casserole. Here are two versions, to give you an idea of how I make mine.

Broth-based Soup Casserole

When using a "thin" leftover soup, such  chicken or turkey noodle, I beef up the extra ingredients with some veggies, pasta, leftover baked potato or rice, onion and garlic. For 4 or 5 servings:

about 2 cups any kind of liquidy soup (this one is made with lemon-herb turkey noodle soup)
about 3 cups leftover cooked rice, pasta, beans or combination of (if I'm short in this category, I cook up another portion of pasta, or add a chopped, leftover baked potato)
1 cup of any vegetables
1/4 cup minced onion (optional)
1 clove garlic, minced (optional)
additional salt and seasonings to compliment the soup's ingredients (I just used more of the lemon zest, rosemary and sage that I had in the soup)
1/2 cup to 1 cup of topping (grated cheese, buttered bread crumbs) -- this is what "makes" the casserole.

Butter a large casserole dish. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Gently mix the ingredients in the buttered casserole dish.

Add topping. Heat for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly or topping is browned and crispy.

. . . and here's my version using a heartier, thicker soup.

Turkey Tortilla Soup Casserole

When I have a very flavorful and hearty soup, I can often leave out the extra veggies, onions and garlic.

The other night I made another soup casserole, using leftover turkey-tortilla soup (minus the tortillas). There were enough canned tomatoes, carrots pieces, beans, potatoes, onions and garlic in the leftover soup, that I didn't need to add anything other than a pinch of salt, some cumin and some chili powder, along with a fresh batch of rice.

I used:

about 2-3 cups leftover tortilla soup (containing turkey, pinto beans, canned tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, onion, garlic and seasonings)
about 3 cups of cooked brown rice
vegetable oil
extra salt, cumin, chili powder

I oiled the casserole dish, spread the cooked rice in the dish, and drizzled with vegetable oil.

Next, I topped this with with leftover soup, and tossed gently with the seasonings.

Just before baking, I sprinkled lightly with just a bit of extra chili powder. Baked, uncovered, in a 350 degree F oven for about 30 minutes, until completely heated through, and rice was crispy around the edges.

It was tasty, easy and filling. This made enough for 5 hearty servings plus leftovers for one lucky person's lunch.

Soup Casserole makes the most of our homemade soup leftovers. The hard work has already been done in the preparation of the soup. By simply combining with a few basic ingredients, I can stretch a small amount of leftover soup into family supper.



  1. Yum! I like to do something similar with soup as the base. I'll thicken it up (with appropriate sauce) and add ins like you do. Then I top it with a crust of some sort and bake. Cornbread is a favorite on veggie soup bases and bean bases, but if we have a beef or chicken based we often go with a biscuit type crust or herbed dumplings.

    1. Hi Shara,
      Putting a crust on it sounds very hearty and delicious. I'll give that a try, here. Thanks for the idea!

  2. I've been making soup often this winter. But you're right, making soup seems so imprecise. The leftover amount is never right for a complete second meal. Combining with other ingredients to make a casserole sounds like good way to deal with that problem.
    How about crushed potato chips for the topping?

    1. Hi Kath.
      Ooh, crushed potato chips would be very good! I think crushed corn chips would also go well with many of these casseroles.

    2. Great idea Lili,
      I've made soup with leftover casserloes but never the other way around.

    3. Hi frugal spinster,
      that's a great idea, too. You can turn a half-cup of leftover casserole into a full serving of soup, with just some broth and a little extra seasonings. Sometimes I have just a couple of spoonfuls of casserole leftover, and not wanting to waste it, I'll go ahead and eat it while cleaning up the kitchen, even when I'm not hungry. Not good for my waistline. If I saved those few bites till the next day, I could make myself a single serving of soup for lunch. Definitely going to do that!

  3. I'd be interested in your turkey tortilla soup recipe.

    Great idea! We never seem to have a lot of soup leftovers--and my hubby loves leftovers for his lunches. We're having soup tonight! :) I prepped it last night and turned on the crockpot before I left for work today--it's wonderful to come home knowing that dinner is mostly prepared.

    1. Hi Kris,
      Hmm, um. . .uh . . .um, I don't have a formal recipe. But I'll tell you what I put into it, most of the time, or thereabouts.

      Start with onions, garlic in oil. Add cumin, chili powder, diced carrot, turkey broth, veggie stock. Simmer 10 minutes. Add diced potato, cooked pinto beans, chopped canned tomatoes and chopped turkey. SImmer until potatoes are done. Mash just a bit, to thicken slightly. Adjust seasonings, and keep on low while making tortilla strips. I take about 2 corn tortillas per person, cut in half, then slice into 1/2 inch wide strips. Fry in shallow oil until crispy. Top hot soup with the crisp tortilla strips, salsa, sour cream (or plain yogurt), and/or grated cheese. It's a lot like nachos on top of a bowl of soup!

      Your house is going to smell so good when you walk in the door later today!

    2. Sounds good--thanks! I wouldn't have guessed at the potatoes in it but potatoes are always a hit at our house.

    3. Kris,
      I know, potatoes do sound odd in something Mexican-ish, but I've actually had soup at a Mexican restaurant where they added potatoes and thought it was pretty good. If not potatoes, then I like to add corn, also very good.

  4. This is a great idea as we always seem to have leftover soup. I usually freeze it, but will give this a try next time.

    1. Hi live and learn,
      freezing is a good option, too. Frozen single servings of soup transport to work better than sloshy ones. But also, easy meals or snacks on another day, with frozen leftover soup.

  5. ahhhh "stewp", our favourite! I like the crust idea.

    1. Hi Jess,
      I've never heard of "stewp" before. That is such a great name for this casserole!

  6. Both of those look delicious, Lili. Soup is one of those good things to make that utilizes leftovers so beautifully. There are definitely a go to dinner for us here. :)


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