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November 3, 2011. I’m feeling appreciative. Thankful, even. Maybe I’m just catching the Thanksgiving vibe a little early this year.

Over another homemade granola breakfast, Kathy suddenly asks, do you remember how we used to buy prepared food all the time? Before I can say yes, she moves along to what’s for dinner tonight?

Tonight’s forecast to be the first cold one of the season. Temperature down into the 30s F. How about chicken vegetable soup? Sure, like the prepared soup we used to buy for $6.95 per serving. It was really good. But not as good as what we’ll have tonight. For free. Well, almost.

Make stuff. Make the most of it.
Roasted a chicken two weeks ago. It was great. After dinner, I tossed the carcass into a stockpot and left it to simmer overnight. Had a huge pot of very rich chicken stock the next morning. It’s in the freezer. Made the aioli-stuffed chicken breast two nights ago. The leftover’s wrapped up in the fridge. On the shelf above the carrots, celery and onions leftover from this week’s batch of soffrito. Now that we always have a variety of whole grains in the pantry, I’ll use a few tablespoons of farro.

Now I’m really appreciating this Better Cheaper Slower thing.

Chicken Vegetable Farro Soup
When you can do it this Way, there’s not much to do. You have to remember to take some of the chicken stock out of the freezer to defrost. You spend two or three minutes slicing leftover chicken and vegetables. A few seconds finding your farro. Then it all simmers in a pot for 20 or 30 minutes. What a deal!

The best homemade soup you can imagine. Best, not just Better. Seems like it’s free. Free. Not Cheaper. Five minutes to “make” it. Plenty of time to eat Slower tonight.

I don’t mean to be congratulating myself here. In front of you. I’m just sayin’, make stuff. Make the most of it. It tastes good. It makes you happy.

Cost-Benefit Analysis
Only takes three words for this one. Free chicken soup.

Is there really such a thing as a free lunch? Or dinner? When it’s all leftovers and you spend less than five minutes rounding up and cooking them, it really seems that Way. And when you taste real chicken soup – no cans, no packages – you know this is the Way to eat.

Cost Comparison
A can of Campbell’s “Healthy Request” Chicken & Rice Soup costs $2.79. “Healthy” because it contains just 50% of your daily recommended salt intake instead of 100%. They balance the salt load by sweetening it with High Fructose Corn Syrup.

Let’s Do The Math
Takes less than an hour of walking or leaf-raking to burn every calorie in your homemade soup bowl. The cup-and-a-half of chicken stock in one very big bowl of the delicious homemade stuff delivers about 120 calories. 30 more from the leftover chicken breast and 80 from the farro. 40 from the carrot and celery. Have dessert.

Every Thing Is Everything
More than 25% of all food purchased in the U.S. goes into the garbage. 60 billion pounds every year. Into landfills. Which produce increasingly significant amounts of methane, the greenhouse gas. 25% of that wasted food would feed 20 million people. Waste not, want not.

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