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Make leftovers gourmet rice and potato soup

I recently had the displeasure of deep-cleaning my fridge and finding a couple of forgotten items shoved way in the back or ‘hiding’ at the bottom of the fruit and veggie drawers. The neglected “food-turned-science projects” consisted of a zip-top plastic bag of liquefied parsley and a plastic container of chicken stock that had seen its day. Or should I say, 100 of them?
    Beyond the unsettling image of the discovery, what bothered me more was the thought of once-valuable food going to waste. To relieve myself of any guilt, I talked myself down. After all, I reasoned, it was only chicken broth and parsley – a couple of inexpensive and basic items that can easily be replaced. 
    My self-imposed psych job backfired. I suddenly recalled that those very same items were the staple ingredients used in a simple and flavorful soup that my husband had introduced to me to a few years ago. It is a soup that his nonni (grandmother), who was from an impoverished part of northern Italy, made a lot here in her new home in the United States during the Great Depression. It is a frugal way to make a ‘meal’ out of a few simple ingredients. My guilt suddenly returned.
    The Book of Genesis states that we have a responsibility as humans to take care of and conserve what is here on earth for the glory of God. And these tough economic times are all the more reason to avoid wastefulness. I’m sure that our grandparents and great-grandparents had similar thoughts when they could only afford the basics that had to be sparsely rationed amongst the whole family. 
    But there is another more positive angle as well. Consider what beauty and bounty can come from a few, simple ingredients when we care enough to conserve and make more of the gifts we already have!  Forced to squeeze as much use out of every morsel of food, my husband’s nonni produced incredible meals not with expensive, fancy ingredients, but with that which she considered blessed to already have – however meager it might be. That flavorful soup mentioned above is just one of the many she was happy to prepare for her family.

Rice and Potato Soup

• 2 quarts chicken stock (canned is fine)
• 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
• 1 small onion, chopped
• 1 large potato diced (¼”)
• ½ cup uncooked white rice
• ½ cup chopped parsley

 In a large saucepan, with extra virgin olive oil, cook onions on high heat until transparent (stirring often). Add the potatoes and uncooked rice and continue to stir for 2-3 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and add the chicken stock. Cook until potatoes and rice are tender. Add chopped parsley and simmer (with lid on) for another 7-10 minutes.
 Sprinkle on the grated Parmesan cheese for added flavor and enjoy!

– Michelle Sessions DiFranco

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