“Everything” Soup and Cornbread

This post is linked to What can I eat that’s gluten free? and Friday Foodie Fix–Carrots.

The other day I mentioned my Everything Soup, which is made primarily from tidbits of leftover cooked meat, seafood, and vegetables I stash in the freezer. Some folks commented that they thought this was a novel idea, and a good one. Maybe these folks were just being kind (and thank you if you were!), but I thought I’d go ahead and share how my Everything Soup works. This step-by-step description might also be helpful for folks who don’t make soup on their own (i.e., throwing in ingredients as you go without a real recipe). Hopefully, it will lead many of you to some fun soup experimentation with different meats, seafood, and/or vegetables.

After I had cleaned out my freezer recently (as shared here, I turned my attention to making a pot. I transferred all the ingredients I wanted to use for this batch of Everything Soup to the refrigerator for overnight thawing. The old Tupperware container was full. It held leftover vegetable broth (liquid from cooking vegetables), some bits of beef from a roast, plus various vegetables, like corn, peas, green beans, and carrots—alternating layers of brown, yellow, green, and orange … not unlike one of those colorful jars of layered sand. The freezer also held a roasted chicken carcass (with the drumsticks left), other small containers of leftover vegetables, and several small packages of meat: rib eye and sirloin steak, turkey, and some more chicken. (No single amount was more than 1 ½ cups—I really am talking about small amounts that I save.) I also scour my refrigerator for possible additions. This time I immediately found chopped onion, garlic (of course), and some peas with pearl onions and mushrooms. (By the way, there is a great tutorial from The Chef at Gluten-Free Girl on properly chopping an onion for the very best flavor.)

I drained the Tupperware container through a colander into my soup pot. I set the container still holding vegetables and some beef aside. I heated the pot containing the leftover liquid from the vegetables to boiling, added the chicken carcass and then once the liquid returned to a boil reduced the heat to simmer for about 30 minutes. I drained the liquid, now broth, into another pot through the colander. Once it cooled, I picked the chicken off the bones and set it aside. (There was actually so much chicken, that I decided on the spot to use a good amount of it to make chicken quesadillas for lunch a little later. A happy bonanza … as prior to that I was clueless on lunch ideas!)

I returned the broth to the main soup pot. I placed the pot on the table on my screened porch for a while. (The screened porch is my auxiliary winter refrigerator. LOL With it, there is no need to tax the cooling or space of my conventional refrigerator.) I planned to de-fat the broth before proceeding. While the broth was cooling, I turned my attention to making chicken quesadillas for lunch. Nothing fancy—corn tortillas, most of the chicken from the simmered carcass, some salsa, and some grated sharp cheddar cheese—but oh, so good!) Then I checked the pot of broth prepared to skim off any fat, but, happily, there wasn’t enough fat to skim.

So I returned the soup to the stove and slowly brought it back to a simmer. There were about eight small white potatoes in the pantry, so I peeled and cubed those and threw them in the pot. (Typically, I also add sliced or diced carrots at this point, but there were some in the freezer container already cooked that I planned to add later, so I didn’t need to add additional carrots.) The potatoes simmered gently about 20 – 30 minutes until they were fork tender. Then I added two cans of diced tomatoes–one large can of regular-sized diced tomatoes and one small can of petite-sized diced tomatoes. I also added the other half of the jar of salsa (that I had used for the quesadillas). I returned the pot to simmer mode, letting the tomatoes cook down a bit until the broth looked like pale tomato juice. I tasted the broth to see if additional flavoring was needed. At this point, I sometimes add a teaspoon or more of Better than Bouillon (chicken, beef, or ham, depending upon which flavor I want to enhance), but this soup already had a nice chicken flavor. Finally, I added the vegetables and the meat and let the soup simmer for another half hour. When the soup was “soup,” we weren’t quite ready to eat, so I returned it to the porch refrigerator, letting all the flavors meld. I gently heated it later when we were hungry.

In summary, follow these basic steps for Everything Soup:

–Freeze leftover bits of meat, seafood, and vegetables, plus vegetable and meat broth in freezer containers (saved jars can work great for this purpose … just leave some empty space at the top for the freezer expansion).
–Thaw out the bits and broth overnight (or all day) in refrigerator.
–Strain vegetable/meat broth into the soup pot. Bring to a boil.
–Add chicken carcass or ham hock to vegetable/meat broth (add water, chicken or other stock/bouillon, if needed). Return to boil. Then simmer until meat comes off bone (about 30 minutes or so). Strain. Set meat aside to cool. Remove usable meat. Cut into bite-sized pieces.
–Add diced or sliced potatoes and carrots. Add chopped onion, garlic, and tomatoes. Simmer 20 – 30 minutes until tender.
–Add remaining vegetables and meat. Simmer another 30 minutes. Add any additional seasoning to taste. Serve alone or with GF crackers or GF bread, like  my popovers or my cornbread (recipe below).


FYI—If you wait as long as I did to make your Everything Soup, you will end up with a huge pot! It’s perfect for a large family, but since it’s just the two of us at home, I always take this opportunity to share with others. I either ask folks to join us for an impromptu meal or jar my soup to deliver to family and friends, so it’s never a problem. Besides, I have a thing for feeding people. LOL But, who doesn’t appreciate someone showing up on the doorstep with a hot meal? Sharing my homemade meals is also an easy way to show folks that GF food tastes “normal” and that it’s easily made using simple recipes with real ingredients.

That first evening we enjoyed the Everything Soup by itself for dinner. Since it’s chock full of good stuff and very filling, that’s all that was needed. However, the next day I wanted to share the soup with some family members, in this case, three different households. Soup alone—even very appealing soup—often does not make as good an impression as it would if accompanied by some type of bread and a simple dessert. So I also made cornbread and some peanut butter cookies. Let me tell you … that ensemble looked very attractive in a napkin-lined basket and was well received by all! 


Flat and Firm Cornbread
(Click here for a print version of this recipe.)

1 cup yellow gluten-free corn meal
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk (see notes below)
1 large egg
2 tablespoons butter, melted (or dairy-free equivalent, for dairy-free version)

Mix dry ingredients.  Stir in other ingredients.  Pour into greased 8-inch round cake pan.  Bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Cornbread will be golden brown (as shown in picture above) when ready.  You can also test for doneness by the usual toothpick test. Let cool for 5 minutes. Remove from pan. Cool a bit more and then cut into wedges. (I like to use a serrated knife.)

Shirley’s Notes: You can make your own “buttermilk.” Put 1 tablespoon of vinegar or 1 tablespoon of lemon juice into a measuring cup. Add enough milk to make 1 cup. Let sit 10 minutes. Either dairy or non-dairy milk will work. I really like this method because you can use ingredients on hand, it’s economical, and, in my opinion, the taste is pretty much the same as if you had used real buttermilk. Or, you can use Saco Buttermilk Blend and water. Saco states that their buttermilk blend is gluten free. (I’ve used this product successfully, with no issues in the past.)

Rather than baking 30 minutes in a cake pan, another option is to pour batter into a preheated, greased cast iron skillet and then finish the baking process in the oven. It only takes about 15 – 20 minutes to bake using this method and you get the bennies from baking using cast iron.  By the way, my cornbread looks quite thin because I used a 9-inch cake pan. It was just “happenstance,” but the cornbread obviously does go a bit further when a 9-inch pan is used and I don’t think anyone feels deprived with his portion.

This recipe was adapted from one on the celiac listserv.

Go ahead … start throwing your leftover tidbits in the freezer so you can soon make a pot of Everything Soup (those tidbits add up more quickly than you’d think!). Until then, you can make some delicious cornbread. Enjoy!

Not just gf, but gfe!

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48 Responses to ““Everything” Soup and Cornbread”

  1. Nance on February 8th, 2009 10:06 pm

    I love having that extra freezer! Like you, I enjoy tossing together soups to use up leftovers, and it’s not hard to get creative while being frugal. And now that Glad and Ziploc have gone into the inexpensive container business, I can easily and cheaply freeze small and single portions for my son away at school and also for dinners/lunches for just Rick and I. It’s also great to be able to take my Ginger Chicken Noodle in for co-workers or students who are recovering from bad colds or flu. It’s very comforting and the ginger helps with the congestion. And no worries about getting containers back.

  2. noble pig on February 9th, 2009 2:43 am

    Very nice, how perfect for this time of year. Love the flat corn bread.

  3. Jennifer on February 9th, 2009 8:52 am

    That looks delicious! And nutritious. I just made a beef veggie soup with sirloin tip roast that I make purposely for the soup!

  4. Kelly on February 9th, 2009 1:32 pm

    I love it! I do this as well! My friend calls it, “everything but the kitchen sink, soup,” – good, don’t you think? I could eat soup and salad every day :-)

  5. Shirley on February 9th, 2009 3:18 pm

    Nance–Yes, the creativity is fun, easy, and frugal. And, you’re right, those containers come in handy for sharing food. (Of course, I still recycle them as much as possible if I receive food in them and hope others do the same.) You must make all your guys very happy doing those freezer meals! And, oh my goodnesss, making Ginger Chicken Noodle soup for your colleagues and students … they undoubtedly love you for that! Chicken Noodle soup has been proven to help with colds and congestion and ginger would only enhance its healing abilities. Ginger is always on the super foods list. In fact, I make a super juice for ailing friends, which includes fresh ginger. I am really having a craving for some Ginger Chicken Noodle soup right now. It would be easy to make it GF with brown rice noodles (or other GF noodles). Yum.


  6. Shirley on February 9th, 2009 3:19 pm

    Jennifer–Thanks! Both your sirloin tip roast AND the beef veggie soup sound delicious. Definitely a win-win! :-)


  7. Shirley on February 9th, 2009 3:29 pm

    Kelly–Thanks! I love hearing that you and others are doing this, too! I bet your friend is thoroughly enjoying your soup at the same times she is calling it by her nickname. LOL I could definitely eat good soup and a tasty salad every day. I think soup is one thing that restaurants could easily do GF, but usually it’s hard to find soup that’s GF when dining out. I have found it occasionally in finer restaurants. (I love it when the chef informs me that he uses cornstarch or potato starch as thickener.) But, for the most part I am content to make all types of homemade soups (and I like knowing exactly what’s in them).

    I am always game for new soup recipes, too. Ali just had a great soup on her blog, Whole Life Nutrition, that I can’t wait to try as it contains two of my faves, black-eyed peas and broccoli.


  8. Shirley on February 9th, 2009 4:37 pm

    noble pig–Cathy, thanks! Yes, a nice mug of soup makes winter far more enjoyable. :-) That cornbread is attractive and good!


  9. Cindi on February 9th, 2009 5:12 pm

    Just had to rub it in about the peanut butter cookies, didn’t ya’???? I love vegetable soup, and I’ve been trying to do better about using leftovers. This looks like a great way to do that! By the way, it reminds me that I have a recipe for cabbage soup that is totally wonderful, and takes me back to your earlier post about cabbage. I’ll have to dig that out. . .

  10. Shirley on February 9th, 2009 5:34 pm

    Cindi–I didn’t even THINK about that when I mentioned the peanut butter cookies! LOL

    Do you have a good-sized freezer container, or two? That makes this method so easy. The kids could even help you by dumping the leftovers into the container. And, then let them help when it gets full … once you get to the fun part of dumping the leftover veggies and meat in, of course. They’ll feel like they’ve contributed and eat more than ever. :-) Even in your warmer area, soup is great this time of year so make your cabbage soup and look like a domestic goddess! ;-)

  11. Absolutely Not Martha on February 9th, 2009 6:30 pm

    hi shirley, thank you so much for commenting on my blog! i really appreciate your added note:) i’d love to include one of your recipes on my weekly links (if that’s ok with you)–exchange links?

  12. Peter Bronski on February 9th, 2009 7:27 pm

    I love imaginatively using left overs to create delicious new meals! Keep ‘em coming!

    Cheers, pete

  13. Shirley on February 9th, 2009 8:31 pm

    Absolutely Not Martha–You’re welcome, of course. I have enjoyed checking out your blog (it looks like it has a good mix of info and lightheartedness). I hope you’ll enjoy mine, too. The GF recipe part of your Friday “roundup” is an especially neat idea. :-)


  14. Shirley on February 9th, 2009 8:32 pm

    Pete–You are great at coming up with terrific meals on your blog, so I really appreciate your comment!


  15. V-Grrrl on February 10th, 2009 2:37 pm

    Such a great idea. I don’t use my freezer space much for leftovers but I should since My Guy no longer regularly totes leftovers to work to have for lunch and some things end up going to waste.

    I make soup A LOT and I’m always scouring the refrigerator shelves for stuff to toss into it. It’s one of my favorite ways to re-purpose the bits that accummulate in the fridge each week.

  16. Shirley on February 10th, 2009 7:15 pm

    V–The freezer works better for me than relying on my memory to clean out the refrigerator regularly. It pains me when I find good food gone bad there, so I try to throw the little bits in the freezer right away. I bet your soup is great! A new invention every week is fun. Sometimes you find out what works and what doesn’t. I love broccoli in soup, but it doesn’t hold up well in my everything soup. It tends to fall apart and turn everything green and “everything green” soup is not what we want. LOL The guys laughed like crazy the one time I did that. Now broccoli is saved for chicken divan and such.


  17. Becca on February 12th, 2009 10:05 pm

    That cornbread looks delicious, thanks for sharing!

  18. Shirley on February 12th, 2009 11:10 pm

    Hi, Becca–Welcome to GFE and thanks so much for your comment! :-)


  19. H.Peter on February 13th, 2009 9:30 am

    Soup. A necessity when living in a cold climate like Canada. We LOVE soups, espcially home made, good tasting soups like yours.

    Time to move to FRANCE! It’s snowing again here…

  20. Shirley on February 13th, 2009 10:42 am

    H.Peter–Snow! I love snow, but of course when we get it, it stops everything. LOL I realize you guys just have to keep going (which I would not like). Time to get a pot of soup going (and try some cornbread, too) until you can make your move to France. ;-) Thanks!


  21. Eleonora on February 13th, 2009 11:35 am

    Your blog is super. So are your photographies. They make me hungry. I have spent a nice moment when seeing them. Thanks a lot.

  22. Shirley on February 13th, 2009 3:11 pm

    Hi Eleonora–Thank you so very much!! I am still learning the mechanics of blogging and digital photography, so I really appreciate your kindess. Hope you will try some of my recipes and come back to GFE soon! :-) FYI–I plan to post a little treat recipe later today …


  23. Steve on February 15th, 2009 8:52 pm

    Nice, I love the everything soup idea. I usually eat all my leftovers until they’re gone instead of saving small amounts. I do get tired of eating the same thing for the better part of the week though, so maybe I’ll start trying this.

    The cornbread looks great!


  24. Shirley on February 15th, 2009 10:19 pm

    Hey, Steve–I actually do a combination of the two … using a good amount for leftovers for dinners or lunches, but when I have very small amounts or I get tired of the repeated leftovers, then it’s time to stash them in the freezer for everything soup. And, do try the cornbread! :-)

    Thanks so much,

  25. Diane-thewholegang on August 21st, 2009 9:19 pm

    I miss corn bread. I’ve not made it in some time. Need to get going on dairy free version and no eggs for the hubby. Love your recipe. Short list of ingredients and cooks in no time. Thank you for sharing this on Friday Foodie Fix.

    • Shirley on August 21st, 2009 11:03 pm

      Hi Diane–Since I’ve been using coconut milk a lot lately, I think it would work just fine in this recipe. I did make it with rice milk for our support group meeting once and it was satisfactory, but I think the coconut milk would have the thickness needed, but not add a coconut flavor. The no eggs is something I’ve been working on to share recipes with folks who can’t do eggs, but don’t have a lot of options to offer yet. For people who do soy (can’t remember if you guys do or not), a heaping tbsp of soy flour and a tbsp of water can be substituted for one egg. That does work. I’ve done it in the past. Anyway, you’re right … this is such an easy recipe to make. It’s definitely one of our faves. :-)

      Glad to participate in the Friday Foodie Fix … there are some great corn recipes in this week’s roundup and it’s a wonderful event each week–thank you!

  26. Linda on November 10th, 2009 8:08 pm

    Soup is a great way to use up bits of leftovers, and cornbread is a perfect accompaniment. Thanks for linking up.

    • Shirley on November 10th, 2009 8:52 pm

      Hey, Linda–Happy to be a part of your weekly roundup! Will try to share more new recipes with the crew, but it’s nice to share some of these old standby’s, too. ;-)


  27. Diane-The W.H.O.L.E. Gang on March 29th, 2010 8:28 am

    I love this soup. I bet it costs pennies to make and would go a long way on comfort foods for me. I always end up with bits of meats left in the freezer and now I know what I’m going to do with them all. Soup today! Thank you for sharing this on Friday Foodie Fix.

    • Shirley on March 29th, 2010 9:22 pm

      I love making soup this way, Diane. I’ve been doing it for a long, long time. I’m about ready for a pot of it myself. I use the same concept for my chili. I use leftover taco meat, meatballs, etc. for that. Then I just add tomatoes, kidney beans, onions, chili powder, etc. This last time I added a mashed sweet potato to my regular mix a la Stephanie’s Sweet Potato Chili. It was really, really good. :-)


  28. MaryLu on May 21st, 2011 6:17 pm

    Shirley, with all due respect, I disagree that the taste is comparable when using the vinegar/lemon juice trick. It works on a chemical basis for baking, but real buttermilk has an innate tanginess and viscosity that can’t be duplicated. However, your recipe should be perfect for large cornbread croutons for Cornbread salad with tomatoes and pepperjack cheese, for hubby’s birthday celebration/cookout. I too always make my CB in a cast iron skillet, it creates the best crust. Did you also know that you can substitute plain yogurt for the buttermilk? Great flavor and tenderness. Your soup sounds similar to the way I cook too. I’ve never frozen a chicken carcass though, have to try that. Thanksgiving turkey leftovers make a wonderful soup also, and you’ve already got leftover veggies from the big day!

    Mmmm. I just took it out of the oven. Using all my will power not to cut a big piece and slather with butter and honey ;-). 15 minutes in my huge (and heavy) CI skillet, 10″ across bottom, 12″ across top. Thin and flat, just what I needed. Next time I’ll try your recipe in my other 8″ CI skillet [yes, I do have two, the smaller one from my dear mom, used since my childhood and now a cherished inheritance], and follow up with that butter and honey.

    • Shirley on May 22nd, 2011 4:22 pm

      Hi MaryLu–It looks like you are new here–welcome to gfe! :-) No offense taken on your personal preference of real buttermilk for cornbread. Glad this one passed muster for cornbread croutons though! And yes, I do like the sound of those. ;-) Hope you liked your end result. Baking in a cast iron skillet is a joy that I’ve just returned to! BTW, I sometimes use buttermilk powder in this recipe. It’s probablly still not as good as the real thing, but we enjoy it.

      Thanks so much for your input, recipe link, and initial feedback on the cornbread recipe, MaryLu!

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