The beef broth left over from a stew I’d served to company was taking up too much space in my refrigerator. Rather than overcrowd the freezer with it, I decided to make soup.
This inspiration struck at dinner time, too late to shop for ingredients, so I used what was on hand: a handful of mushrooms, a lone zucchini, a carrot, a potato and a small packet of dried roasted sweet corn.
Out in the garden, a late-season tomato had just ripened. I also picked some Italian parsley, a fresh bay leaf and a rather wrinkled red serrano chile still clinging to its bush (a bit of chile heat really perks up soup). Celery would have been nice, but I had none and so added a few leaves of lovage, an herb that tastes like celery. I also put in a pinch of herbes de Provence that a friend had brought back from southern France.
Now you see why I call this Odds and Ends Vegetable Soup. The only requirement is good homemade broth. Then you can add whatever you like from your own store of vegetables and herbs. I served the soup as a main dish. The accompaniments were hot chile-cheese bread and a glass of the same red wine that I had served at my dinner party.