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Joy of Leftovers 21 July 2014: Mac & 'Dle Chicken Cheese Soup

I think the mark of a good cook is their ability to play with the things around and given them, using the cards dealt to create something spectacular out of the box. As I am trying to become – and be – a good cook myself, I had this in mind while planning my lunch earlier this day.

I mentioned in my last Reviews post, a review of the restaurant Twist, which I had eaten at yesterday but reviewed only prior to this, that I had ordered an Artisanal Cheese Macaroni that I ultimately found unpalatable, and thus took home. Amazingly, after spending more than a quarter of a day in a Tupperware container in a not-so-cool car – I had eaten from the bowl it came from, and it was a creamy and cheesy sauce, it was still all right the next day.

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As I did not want to relive the unpleasant experience of something that was too¬†rich to be a good dining experience, the first thing I thought of was that I had to dilute the cheese sauce with something a little bit sharper and watery. Most fortunately, I had the perfect complement biding its time in our fridge: half a can of Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup, as I normally eat a standard can half-by-half. I figured out that, at this point, I would get¬†ingredients I felt would be necessary to enhance this rags-to-riches bowl of goodness, then simply eliminate those not needed, catering to my taste. So, besides the

(¬Ĺ serving) TWIST Artisanal Cheese Macaroni, or similar
(5¬Ĺ oz.) Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup, or similar

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I got:

(1 cup) recently-boiled water
cornstarch
Taiwanese pepper (pepper salt)
(1 tsp.) chili powder
(¬ľ tsp.) thyme, dried
(¬ľ tsp.) rosemary, dried

for my¬†Mac & ‘Dle Chicken Cheese Soup.

I¬†wanted to use my ever-trusty Knorr No-MSG Chicken Powder as well, but I couldn’t find it and didn’t want to go upstairs anymore, so I stayed put.

The first thing I did was¬†light my little soup pot and put the water into it. When it was already hot, I added the Campbell’s soup and waited for it to come to a bubble. When it was already doing so, I added the cheese macaroni, which had somewhat hardened from its night in the fridge (and maybe my saliva), so I had to massage it into the soup and shower the latter over it.

As I had originally thought the soup would need thickening, I got out the cornstarch, but it turned out I didn’t need it after all. The pasta, which contains semolina, which serves as a good thickener already (hence, the Italian way of reserving pasta-cooking water and using it to thicken sauces), did the job for it. I also dispatched with the Taiwanese pepper, as this obviously was a very Euro-American dish and I didn’t want to ruin the experience. I did add thyme and rosemary to give an herbal prick to the soup, which had by now turned an exuberant and jubilant¬†yellow – the gold of the chicken soup and the cream of the cheese sauce marrying joyfully into one.

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In my usual post-cooking antics, I sprinkled on my favorite allium, the spring onion, which was a remainder from my bruschetta breakfast that morning; as well as my perennial but pricey favorite, extra-virgin olive oil.

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I used my Sistema microwaveable noodle bowl, which like the Sistema soup bowl featured in my Leftover Minestrone¬†two weeks ago, comes with a lid and a microwave vent. Not that I expected to reheat my soup due to my notorious speed, or lack thereof, in eating, but I liked the fact that the bowl has a sturdy handle and a lid, which eliminates the need for a tray (and therefore more washing up), as I would simply place my spoon or fork on the lid, with the vent closed. Responsibility in a bowl on so many levels: less washing up, healthful materials, using up of leftovers.¬†Now¬†that’s¬†something to look forward to for your soul. ūüėČ

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And it tasted great, too. I got what I expected and desired: the cheese sauce was diluted by the chicken soup, but wasn’t compromised in terms of taste. I could still experience the cheesy flavor, but it was absorbed into and absorbed the comfort of the chicken soup. The pasta and noodles effortlessly worked together to create an impression of a pasta soup dish with macaroni and spaghetti, though of course it was simply noodles and not Italian noodles.

Making and eating this bowl of goodness made me feel so relieved and happy. A well-intentioned bowl of lovely (and surely expensive) pasta and cheese that didn’t quite make it to the eater’s satisfaction was rescued from the refuse bin (and the overall amount of trash we produce everyday) and turned into something that transcended it and the other ingredients used – and even better,¬†another¬†leftover was saved from going inedible in the process;¬†furthermore,¬†an allium that normally went rotten after a very short period of time was served fresh too. It both tasted and felt good to make.

And given the amount of food we trash everyday (and trash overall), one simple step everyone could take to make the world a better place would be to turn their foodstuffs almost at the point of no return into something magical. I sincerely hope I can do something like this all the time.

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