Don’t Be a Jerk (Soup)

I’m going to get serious here for a moment. But just a moment because I have some wings to sauce and Katy Perry to mute.

There are a lot of Super Bowl parties going on right now. After the game is over, when the guests have gone home, and the last burp belched, it will be time to clean up. Undoubtedly there will be leftovers.

Please, don’t throw them away!

Collect those wing carcasses, throw them into a plastic bag and freeze them. If you’re lucky enough to have whole uneaten wings left, throw those into the bag too. Got any celery or carrots still hanging around? Ditto. Into the bag. This can be transformed into a spirited chicken stock next weekend using the method described below.

Food waste makes me crazy.

And there is a shitload of it in this country and globally. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, Americans throw out the equivalent of $165 billion in food annually.

The impact of food waste doesn’t stop at your wallet either.

There are serious environmental implications too. A report from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations found that the food produced but not eaten each year wastes an amount of water equivalent to Russia’s Volga River. Meanwhile, millions of people globally don’t have adequate access to clean water.

Yes, this is a major Debbie Downer as we celebrate America’s favorite sports holiday.

But it is very easy to be part of the solution by creatively using leftovers.

During the holidays I came into possession of some ham. Correction, a lot of ham. As they say, one person’s trash is another person’s treasure, and that’s what this ham was. It’s been sitting in my freezer ever since, waiting to be resurrected. Today, it became Don’t be a Jerk Soup. This soup, made with fiery Jamaican jerk sauce is basically a spicy kick to your ass. Consider it a not-so-subtle reminder to not throw shit away.

First the stock.

Fundamentally, a stock is made from bones (chicken, beef, etc.) or vegetable trimmings (like peels and ends) simmered with water, onions, carrots and celery.

And that’s it, but of course you can get fancier if you like by adding some garlic or a parsnip or something crazy like that.

I made this soup using ham stock. Never heard of ham stock? Me neither until I made some. Don’t fear though, this soup can also be made with chicken or vegetable stock.

Basic Stock
This technique is used regardless of what type of bones or vegetables you have.

  1. Place that left over ham bone/chicken bones/some other bone/veggie trimmings in a large pot with water to cover. Note: you should have about 3 or 4 lbs of a combination of bones, meat or parts or veggie trimmings (like the peels and ends of carrots, potatoes and celery).
  2. Add a whole onion cut into quarters, a stalk of chopped celery and one carrot, chopped. No need to peel the onion or the carrot.
  3. Bring to a boil and then simmer over medium-low heat for an hour and a half, skimming off the foam periodically.
  4. Pour through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl and discard the solids.
  5. If you are not using the stock right away, put it into smaller containers to refrigerate or freeze.

Don’t be a Jerk Soup

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 large carrot, diced or cut into coins
1-3 Tbsp Jamaican jerk sauce *
6 cups ham or chicken stock
½ lb ham or chicken, diced (or omit if doing this with just veggies)
1 cup corn kernels (fresh if you’re lucky enough to have them, but frozen works fine)
4 cups chopped kale (or any other hearty green like chard)
1 ½ cups black-eyed peas
1 tsp chopped thyme leaves
salt & pepper to taste

*I make my own jerk sauce, using Gourmet (RIP) magazine’s excellent recipe from 2002, available on epicurious.com here. It’s life changing, so I strongly urge you to try it out at least once. If you must though, you can also buy jarred Jamaican jerk sauce in most well-stocked grocery stores.

In a large pot, heat olive oil until shimmering. Add onion and cook until onion is translucent and golden, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, one minute or less. Add carrots and jerk seasoning and cook for one minute. Add stock, kale and meat, if using. Add corn and black-eyed peas and simmer for 15-20 minutes to allow flavors to develop. Add thyme and adjust salt and pepper to taste. And you’re done!

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