My mum is not much of a cook. So my childhood soup experiences were defined by Lipton and Campbell's. But that doesn't detract from the very wonderful times when I was so sick and Mum would make soup for me. She had a special twist to making the packets of Lipton soup - she would add egg noodles. I later learned that as a child - the boys ate first so she usually ended with mostly broth. This was her way of compensating I guess. :-)
January is when we ask people to focus on donating soup with their tote bags.
But we also want to encourage people to make homemade soup. A little healthier, stretches a bit further. And we've added a special twist - a new feature called Soup n' Such.
Soup 'n Such is an occasional series where one of our readers shares a recipe with the majority of ingredients items that might be available at a food pantry. It is not intended to be a cooking class - rather a teaching moment to have us all think about the grocery and pantry items we might take for granted.
I, for example, never made soup until I was well into my 30s. I had to call my friend Julie to explain how to get the boiled chicken off of the chicken bones without scalding myself. I began to cheat and use boneless chicken but that's not an affordable or practical option.
We begin this week with Chicken Taco Soup submitted by Becky, working mom of two. You might note that she specifies the substitutions (onion powder for onion, canned chicken for raw chicken and even flavorings one might find at the Dollar Store.)
Our intent is not to recreate the wheel. Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank has a terrific feature called Recipe Rainbow which helps put ingredients together into a meal complete with nutritional information. Rather, we are trying to explore hunger from a different point of view - and educate donors about the items that can be most useful. And the bags that hold them.
With Becky's recipe, you can donate almost each ingredient in a tote bag and voila! A few meals depending on your family size. And when the fresh items are available, they can be worked back in to the recipe.
Next week, we are featuring Cabbage Soup from Nadene. Would you like to contribute? Simply take a look at your recipes and determine what might be a good fit - a casserole? another soup? a pasta dish?
As we move into fresh produce season, we can incorporate the produce more often distributed or perhaps you could write a brief post about what exactly to do with that white onion after you chop a quarter of it into a recipe and the remainder is sitting in the fridge to make the money spent stretch as far as possible.
But for now - our focus in helping readers and donors understand just what food pantry recipients are facing (and lacking) in their own kitchens. Consider it a bit of a challenge perhaps?
Can you make a tasty ham and bean soup using SPAM?
If you are interested in contributing, please email us: tote4pgh at gmail dot com.
What is your favorite soup? Do you have a family recipe? Have you ever tried adding egg noodles to Lipton's chicken noodle soup packets?
The Pittsburgh Tote Bag Project collects new and gently used tote bags for distribution to the region's food pantries. We are a project of the Thomas Merton Center. Visit our website for a list of permanent drop-off spots, information on how to organize your own tote bag drive and details on our partnerships with corporations and promotional products items. You can also follow us on Twitter @Tote4Pgh and Facebook.com/Tote4pgh