I love meals that started out as other meals.

My mom was queen of the reworked dish – serving a roast on Sunday and soup on Saturday with steak pie and hash served up somewhere in-between. It was an art form to be admired.

I worked in a few small places back in the day that had the same frugal budget – the The Donut Center I worked in in the early ’60s saved up old donuts and let them go completely stale. They were then ground up with sugar and butter and cinnamon and other spices to become the filling for bear claws and other danish pastries and coffee rings. At the Riviera Dinner House, we saved up bits and pieces of things that became savory fillings for Sunday Brunch Gougères. Here, at home, nothing goes to waste. Soups and stews are the go-to fall and winter classics, and salads are the spring and summer dishes.

Waste not, want not.

We had quite a bit of the sauce left from the Christmas Eve Cioppino – and since it really was a rockin’ sauce – Victor reworked part into last night’s pasta dinner. Today, it was my turn to take the rest and make soup.

As much as I love to bake, I think my true calling in life has been as a soup maker. I cannot think of anything easier to do or as rewarding. Taking bits of this and that and turning it into a steaming pot is nothing but fun – and it is so nice to empty out the ‘fridge now and again!

Today’s soup started with an onion and a fairly sad-looking leek. Both chopped, they went into the pot. Next went two boneless, skinless chicken thighs – also chopped. Then some garlic, because everything is better with garlic.

2 cups of red wine, because it was open and by the stove. Then went the cioppino sauce – about 2 quarts. It was a bit thick so in went most of a container of chicken stock that was in the ‘fridge. Then a can of diced tomatoes, a can of white beans, leftover steamed carrots, 2 more carrots, and some chopped celery.

I brought it to the boil and then added lentils and fregola. I tasted and added some salt, pepper, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Then, just for the hell of it, I added a jar of roasted red and yellow peppers – nicely chopped – to add a bit of sweetness.

I let it simmer and lunch was served!