We are experiencing winter now, real winter on the prairies. The temperatures over the weekend have been BELOW 30 below...with the slight wind it is nearing 40 degrees below Celsius (which is 40 below Fahrenheit). It is biting cold, something you can only understand if you have experienced it. If you dress for it and stay out of the wind it is not the end of the world but I am glad I don't have to go anywhere and that my morning chores take about 10 minutes. In the meantime there is plenty to do inside and we are staying close to the wood stove.
I'm determined to use up leftovers and stick to a tight kitchen budget in 2016. I bought a 2 lb package of hamburger the other day (we are currently out of home grown beef) for $6.50 which was on special at the butcher shop (right now hamburger is $4/lb). I got over 3 meals out of it by having shepherd's pie two nights in a row and making the leftovers into Dill Pickle Soup. If you have never heard of such a thing, you are not alone. My brother introduced us to the soup after having it somewhere in Alberta. I was hesitant to try it but I really do like it (although it isn't something I could eat all the time). There are many versions of the recipe online and I only referred to them for the general idea. Interestingly, I've always had it with ground beef in it but none of the recipes I saw had meat in them. I would compare this soup to potato soup that someone was dunking their burger in while they ate. I can imagine that after pieces of the beef and pickle fell into the soup someone got the idea to add the two intentionally. Anyways, that's what the soup tastes like to me and you can make it either with meat or without and can add more or less pickles to your own taste.
I began by simmering about 3/4 c each of onion, celery, and shredded carrot in a cup of water with 1 Tbsp chicken OXO. I had no homemade broth on hand and hadn't considered how salty the soup would be with pickles and pickle juice added. Although it didn't seem too salty when I ate it, I was thirsty all afternoon! Once the vegetables were tender I used my stick blender to puree them into a more smooth consistency. That step is not necessary but I had the time.
I made this soup as I always make homemade potato soup. I microwaved a cup of skim milk before adding it to the pot. Normally I would add leftover mashed potatoes at this point but in this case it was about a cup and a half of leftover shepherd's pie. There was corn and peas in the casserole so that made it a nice consistency and the potatoes and milk made the soup nice and creamy without adding cream or flour. At this point your soup is ready and it was delicious. I debated even adding the pickles but in the end I put about 1/3 c of homemade dill pickles in my food processor and added just a dash of pickle juice to the soup. Because I added very little it just gave the soup a certain "je ne sais quoi"--tangy but not overpowering. I have had the soup with much more pickle (most of the recipes call for a cup each of pickles and juice) and I like it both ways.
We enjoyed the soup (kids wouldn't touch it!) and it is just something different to break the monotony of being indoors in cold weather. Have you tried any new recipes or improvised any new meals lately?