On a dreary Saturday afternoon, my sister and I were finishing our phone call.

Her: what are you up to the rest of the afternoon?

Me: I have to figure out dinner.

Her: WHAT?? Oh, no. You are not allowed to say that anymore, sister. The Maven of Meal Planning cannot admit that she has to figure out dinner at 3:00 in the afternoon.

Me: Well, I had a week fully planned, then had to leave town. Some of those meals relied on someone having more than 30 minutes to cook. Not to mention the fact that my husband was recovering from an upper respiratory infection and coming home to a daughter with the flu and single parenting. I have a fridge full of food to use up and have to figure out what to use first.


So, I checked the week’s worth of recipes and the fridge.


The greens were taking up the most space. I started with them. I filled up one of the kitchen sinks with cold water and let the greens get a good rinse.

But then I had to run errands. And, as always, they took longer than expected. So while the greens were clean when I got home, I still had to trim them and slice them. That alone would take 30 minutes. It was cold, late, and I was hungry, bordering on hangry

I needed dinner and I needed it STAT!


I had plenty of other veggies, homemade stock, small red beans (adzuki) and a pressure cooker. Soup’s on!!


How to get these ingredients blended and to the table as fast as humanly possible was my challenge.


First, rinse beans. Start boiling the stock (made from last week’s veggie scraps).  Boiling water (or broth) is the one thing you can’t rush. Meal planning won’t change the laws of physics.

I like to saute veggies before adding them to soup for a richer flavor. So while the stock was heating, I used another burner to saute onions, leeks, celery, and mushrooms.


While one veggie was cooking, I was chopping the next one.

And the stock was still not boiling.

The carrots and potatoes went directly into the stock – no saute required. 

Add tomato paste for some depth of flavor. Cover. Cook.

While the soup cooked (it only needed 20 minutes), I had time to set the table, move the veggie scraps to the freezer for next week’s stock, and start chopping the greens that I originally thought I was going to eat for diner (remember those?) I’ll go ahead and cook them for tomorrow and store them in a big bag.

The kids toast some bread.

The timer goes off! Everyone to the table. It’s gotten darker and colder, and the vibrance of this soup is soooo good. What’s on your table?