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Want to enjoy what is nearly a free meal? Make some stoup. Stoup is stew-soup made from leftovers collected throughout the week or month plus anything that needs to be eaten before it goes bad. Add tomatoes, onions, garlic, and beans as needed to rev up the flavor and protein. For example, you might start with some extra pasta sauce, a carrot that's a bit limp, a handful of rice or pasta, broth from cooking chickpeas, and parsley stems. (Remove the parsley stems before serving.)

Imagine the final stoup as you choose food to add. Only add items that would make the stoup tasty. It's fun to see how the stoup manages to be different every time. You can nudge it in various ethnic directions by adding spices.

For the sake of tracking the probable costs of making stoup, the Cook for Good plan assumes that you'll add these items to your other ingredients to serve four people: 2 cups of cooked beans, a 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes, an onion, a green pepper, 2 cloves of garlic, and cayenne pepper to taste. But it really depends on what you start with.

Active time: 15 minutes. Total time: 45 minutes to 1 hour. Number of servings depends on what you add to it.

Ingredientsstoup or stew soup in the freezer

leftovers frozen throughout the week or month

as needed, diced tomatoes, onions, beans, garlic, hot sauce, spices


  1. Save up. Keep largish freezer container in an easy-to-grab spot in the freezer. My original plastic one, shown in the picture, holds a quart. I'm now using glass wide-mouth quart canning jar. Put any sort of leftovers that might be good in a stew into your Stoup container, such as a few tablespoons of tomato sauce, a half-cup of beans, the rest of an onion, extra rice, the spicy relish from the Indian takeout, bread crumbs, and rinsings from tomato cans and cooking pots. If you do eat meat, add any edible scraps.
  2. Thaw, simmer, and forage. The night before you make stoup, move the container to the refrigerator to thaw. The next day, put it in a big pot. While it heats up, add any vegetables that are nearing the end of their deliciousness, including potatoes. The mix should have about 1/2 cup of beans or 3/4 cup of high-protein pasta per serving. If it doesn’t, add cooked beans to ensure the stoup has enough protein.
  3. Taste and adjust. Taste the stoup after the vegetables have cooked down some, in about 20 minutes. Sometimes it’s delicious just as it. Sometimes it needs some more tomatoes, hot sauce, other spices. Remove any bits in there for flavoring only, such as parsley stems or bay leaves.
  4. Serve hot. Refrigerate any extra for up to four days; do not refreeze.

Tips and notes

  • Add any potatoes when cooking the stoup; they get mushy if frozen.
  • Refreezing previously frozen food can set the stage for food poisoning.
  • You might find that adding raw collards or kale makes the stoup too strong tasting and bitter. If so, you can chop them, pre-boil them separately for seven minutes, drain, and then add them to the stoup.
  • Liquid from canned beans will make your stoup taste metallic; just pour that stuff down the drain. Don’t add hotdogs, cheese, or anything with mayonnaise or your stoup will become unspeakably horrible.  Other edible meat scraps are OK if you have them, but not hotdogs! If you have any leftover cheese, grate it up and sprinkle it on top when serving.

Reader Comments (2)

I thought I remembered you posting, quite a while ago, about celery being an exception to the 'throw it in the stoup jar' routine. However, I can't find a post about it now, nor anything to back up that memory when searching Google. Is my memory accurate, or is celery safe to use as it ages?

May 13, 2017 | Registered CommenterMatthew

Good memory, Matthew! I know I wrote that you should compost celery that had turned yellow, but can't find that text now. In fact, I just checked several trusted sites and can't find a mention of actual danger from eating older, yellowish celery. You'll get the best nutrition from using it within ten days, though.

May 17, 2017 | Registered CommenterLinda Watson
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