The Reluctant Chef

It’s New Year’s Eve? So tomorrow you start on your diet, right? OK, that’s probably a bit presumptive. It’s New Year’s Eve, so tomorrow I start on my diet. Today, I get rid of all the party food in the house, and one of the ways I do this is through soup.

You need to understand that I learned to cook as a student, when my ingredients were ‘whatever is being thrown away at the market’ and water. Despite now being many decades older, I’ve never seen any need to learn to cook any other way. You probably also need to understand that I hate cooking, and only do it in preference to starving.

There’s a reason why my characters live off supernoodles and pizza, and the most complicated cookery they ever attempt is throwing some mixed herbs, olive oil and parmesan on top of spaghetti (Finn from Trowchester Blues.) They all enjoy their food, but they enjoy it best when it’s cooked by someone else.

Have I lowered your expectations enough? Probably not. You probably still won’t believe I had the cheek to offer this as a recipe. But I did! Behold and boggle:

New Year’s Eve soup

Fry a chopped onion in a massive pan.

Take all your savoury leftovers (which you have been storing in the freezer for just this occasion) and roughly chop them. Throw them in the pan with the onions and fry the whole lot.

Add two pints of water. If you have any left over gravy, fling that in too. Otherwise, add a stock cube. Bring to the boil and then allow to simmer for about an hour.

Blend to smoothness with a hand blender.


Add things to make it taste better. Eg, soy sauce or cumin or paprika if it needs more depth, left over cranberry jelly and Christmas pudding if it needs more sweetness. Etc – whatever you have on hand.

If it’s too thin, add a couple of handfuls of lentils.

If it’s too thick, add water.


Tell yourself thank God that’s over. Now I can get back to something interesting, and have your last glass of wine for the year while contemplating what you’re going to write next.

Happy New Year! May it be full of good dinners you didn’t have to cook for yourself 🙂

ZAM mentioned that I probably share this method of cookery with the Saxons, who famously dismissed the entire art of the chef by declaring “I can boil what I need to boil by myself.” So I’m going to use that tenuous hook to tie this post in to The Reluctant Berserker, in which cookery also fails to play a prominent part in everyone’s lives.


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68 Comments on "The Reluctant Chef"

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Yeah! I found your recipe. My kind of cooking. Throw leftovers in a pot. Thanks for the recipe.

Ardent Ereader

Hi Alex, I like your ‘recipe’ for soup using savory leftovers, have you ever had any fails using this recipe? Wishing you a Happy 2015! ardent(dot)ereader(at)gmail(dot)com


I have never of anything like that before. Thanks for sharing! Happy New Year!


This was the most amazing recipe yet. It had me laughing within seconds. And at least you chopped an onion, right? 🙂 thanks for sharing.

Waxapplelover (at) gmail (dot) com


You cook like my sister. That is one recipe I don’t need to duplicate.


I forgot to add, you do get major points for honesty and for trying. Bravo!!


Your soup sounds like a great idea, though I’m not sure I’m adventurous enough to try it in my kitchen. 😀 I try to use leftovers in other ways, though. Not good to throw away edible food…


Thanks for the recipe. I am not sure if the comment I left using my Ipad will show up.

Cindy Mucha Barton

I am a big fan of soups….a few ingredients can feed a lot of people. I too have shopped the “managers specials and reduced” veggies.

cmucha319 AT yahoo DOT com

Julie Small

Can’t get any easier than that! Thank you for the recipe!


Denise Dechene

I can get behind that kind of cooking. I can burn water so I’m not allowed to cook much. True story. ANyway, hope you have a Happy New Year.


LOL, thank you for the fun post! I’m not really one for cooking either.

humhumbum AT yahoo DOT com


LOL. Sometimes the best dishes came from leftovers according to food historians, such as Caesar salad, cioppino etc.
Happy New Year!
strive4bst(AT) yahoo (Dot)com

Lee Todd

a cook after my own heart! lol


Christy C Duke

What a great way to get rid of leftovers 😉

Amber A.

I’m not a great cook either. I just eat when I get hungry and follow the directions on the back of the box^-^


Some like a great way to take care of leftovers.
debby236 at gmail dot com and hotmail


Amber A. is also kissedbymidnigh on the other blogs. I signed in with my livejournal, but here it didn’t allow that and I just thought you wouldn’t realize it was the same person.

Elin Gregory

The Saxons – cooks after my own heart!!

Happy new year, dear Alex. I hope 2015 is good to you. xxx


Sounds good, but my sister always gets mad at me when I give her recipes like that. She wants everything measured and exact. Oh well. Happy New Year! 🙂


[…] Harper Alex Beecroft Lou Silvre Posy Roberts […]


What a great idea for using up leftovers!

Jen CW

I love it. It’s simple and a great way to empty out the leftovers.

Happy New Year!

Heather Rawlins

Now I know what I should do with my overstuffed freezer. Happy New Year.


this sounds like something my mom does periodically — she makes a pot of soup using all the leftovers she can find, then freezes the soup in individual portions for lunches to take to work. 😀

tracykitn AT yahoo DOT com


Ha! My mother used to call that Refrigerator Soup (although she didn’t purée it). saruby213ATgmailDOTcom

lillian francis
I do this on a regular basis. It’s called ‘ let’s see what veggies are looking tired in the fridge today’ soup. It’s normally made on a Sunday evening so I can have it for work, can free up room in the fridge for the fresh stuff once bought, and if I’m lucky they’ll be a bit of roast dinner left to add some meat. If I’m really lucky I’ll have an open packet of sage and onion stuffing and I’ll sprinkle in a handful; it does a great job of thickening the soup. Happy 2015, hope you have a… Read more »

Hee! My kind of recipe! Thanks!


Ugh, sorry, my e-mail is 🙁

Dawn Roberto

I do this every now and again with leftover veggies I have in the fridge. 🙂 Thanks for it!


I actually made soup this past weekend after christmas with veggies and roasted turkey!



Great idea for those pesky leftovers that I get sick of eating in their original form. Thanks for the post and Happy 2015!

jen.f {at} mac {dot} com


So many recipes call for fresh new ingredients, love that this is able to put those leftover ones to good use.


Thank goodness for Food Network or I would still only have this level of skill.


I’ve used this method to make any leftover vegetable into cream of vegetable soup! Simply sauté a chopped onion with whatever leftover veggie you want to soupify, then add stock to cover & simmer til it’s tender, then purée it with the immersion blender (which is an awesome kitchen tool, btw!) and add a bit of cream or milk. Add salt & pepper to taste and you have a lovely soup!

Jillian T

I love recipes that change up leftovers.


Haha, your recipe measurements seem like what my mother would say!
OceanAkers @