I have days where I'm running around doing ten million things and I don't have (or want to make) time to focus on eating. Luckily, I'm not picky in that sense and take pleasure in even the smallest things, like a cracker with Brie or a slice of bread with butter and a piece of chocolate. But when it's cold outside, the body wants something more than just a bite: it's time for something warm, comforting and with substance to it! That's when it's "refrigerator soup" time. I put a pot on the stove, do some of the basics and let it slowly simmer while I do the running around. By the time I'm done, the soup's ready to eat!
I always keep a package of brats in the freezer, they're easy to fix and versatile: you can make Brat buns, use them for a stew or cook them up and eat cold with a piece of bread and some mustard. Pretty much any kind of bratwurst will do, although I do tend to favor the original brats.
The main ingredients to my refrigerator soup is: brats, onion, celery, carrot and anything you can find in the crisper of your refrigerator. The "crisper" is the bottom drawer of your refrigerator where you are supposed to keep fresh vegetables so that they stay crisp. In my case, the crisper is right on top of the freezer, so often I find my veggies frozen stuck to the bottom. Some people also call their crisper, "slimer" since veggies turn into unsightly squishy blobs if they stay in there too long. Well, here's a recipe to prevent that from happening!
2 brats, sliced
1/2 cup of diced onion
1/4 cup of diced celery
1/4 cup of diced carrot
3 cups of water
1 cup of canned beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups of diced, shredded, cut up vegetables
1/2 a bouillon cube
Pinch of salt and pepper
This doesn't seem much of a recipe but it's all about what you have. I always have fresh carrot, celery and onions in the house, but I also keep these in dehydrated form. Go through the fridge and see what you can come up with: half a jar of salsa that needs to go? Throw it in. Some leftover broccoli from last Sunday's dinner? Use it up. Don't use anything that needs to go for real though: if it's moldy, slimey, or if it smells funky, throw it out. This soup is not going to save it!
Fry the slices of bratwurst in a Dutch oven until they are golden brown. Pour off some of the fat but keep enough to have approximately one tablespoon (some brats are fattier than others) in the pan. Add the onion, celery and carrot and stir in the hot fat until the onions are translucent and the carrot and celery are softening a bit. Pour in the water, add the beans and whatever vegetables you were able to find.
I had some leftover kale from a boerenkool dish I made a week or so ago and two tomatoes that looked rather tired. It really doesn't take much to make a sturdy soup!