Winter Days and Garbage Soup

January 15, 2020



January and February are long-ass months in the Rocky Mountains. Actually, March sucks pretty hard, too but at least there’s a leeetle light at the end of the March tunnel. I probably shouldn’t bitch about this January because we really haven’t had much snow to speak of, but damn, the mornings are cold. It’s an everyday battle to drag this old arse out of bed in the morning, and the early AM walks with the Mozz-man turn my keister to ice. Of course, Mr. Fluffernuts has to smell everything on a fresh winter morning, so I fruitlessly try to hustle him along and he resists mightily. I can almost hear him thinking, “Bitch, why you trying to rush me along, huh?”

Because mommy’s butt is a glacier, but he doesn’t give me an ounce of sympathy. Sheesh.

The only thing that gets me through those morning constitutionals is the knowledge that I have a piping hot bowl of soup waiting for me at home. For breakfast. As weird as it is to eat soup for breakfast, I’m firmly rooted to the habit in winter months. Nothing sustains or warms the bones quite like a bowl of soup, and I give myself extra bonus points if it’s a somewhat healthy offering.

Thus: the birth of Garbage Soup.

In the summer, I breakfast on Garbage Salads–bowls of greens and other odds and ends of gardenly delights tossed together with abandon. In the winter, it’s Garbage Soup, which is pretty much the same thing but in liquid form. I pillage the crisper drawer and throw whatever I’ve got lolling about in there into a pot. Homemade chicken stock from the freezer is definitely welcome but if I’m out, I always have a quart of chicken broth in the pantry and in it goes. Leftover bits of cheese and leafy herbs? In they go. A lone potato or two adds some heft, if I’ve got it around. A half-dead onion? Sure thing. You get the idea.

I’ve been making a pot or two of soup a week since November, and while I sometimes go full-effort and make something with a real name, like minestrone or pasta fagioli or curried butternut squash, many times it’s Garbage Soup. Because I am awesome at keeping plenty of vegetables in the house but not so awesome at thinking of creative ways to use them, so soup it is. Plus, with this stomach assholery, it’s one way to get cruciferous things like broccoli and cauliflower into my belly without a trip to the barf bucket. That’s a good thing.

Garbage soup is not so much a recipe as a method.

Take the broccoli/cauliflower/cheese chowder I made this week.

Here’s what I threw in the pot:

olive oil

half an onion, chopped

one Yukon gold potato, peeled and diced

two peeled garlic cloves

several cups of broccoli flowerets

chopped celery

chopped carrot

a bag of cauliflower rice

several sprigs of fresh thyme

chicken stock (about a quart, maybe more…enough to cover all the veggies in the pot) or you can use vegetable stock

6 ounces of garlic and herb cream cheese or neufatchel cheese (like alouette or, in this instance, a tub of whipped garlic/herb cream cheese from Einsten’s bagels)

a fistful or two of sharp cheddar cheese shreds

salt and pepper and crushed red pepper to taste.


Here’s what I did:

Heat a few glugs of olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add onion, celery, carrot and garlic cloves and saute until softened. Throw remaining vegetables, herbs and chicken stock into the pot and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer soup for about a half an hour. Add cream cheese and stir until melted. Whir mixture in a blender or use an immersion blender to get it to the consistency you want. Sometimes I make it chunky like a chowder and sometimes I blitz the whole business into a creamy liquid. Throw in whatever extra cheese and seasonings you want to taste.

Consume. Repeat.

If the garlic cream cheese weirds you out, just use regular cream cheese. It adds a nice richness to the soup but it isn’t heavy. Or if you’d rather just use a nice melting cheese like jack or American, that’s cool too. Huck it in there. I almost always add some Parmiggiano-reggiano on top but anything works, even pepper jack.


Is it glamorous? No. Is it particularly attractive? Eh, not so much. Depends on the ratio of vegetables although if I throw in some spinach, it’s a lively green color. Does it taste good on a bitterly cold day? Absolutely. Especially if you’ve got a nice piece of toasty baguette to lop up the extra bits in the bowl.



It’s January. We’ll make it through. Whatever we need to do to get ourselves there, we’ll hunker down and do it. I’ll do it with Garbage Soup in hand.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Biz January 16, 2020 at 9:06 pm

You know you just jinxed yourself by saying you haven’t had much snow this winter!

Love the idea of garbage soup for breakfast though :D


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