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March 13, 2014

Dry beans (Recipe: everything-from-the-pantry bean soup) {vegetarian}

Originally published in December 2006, this updated pantry ingredient post features new photos, links, and tweaks to the recipe, which I now like to make meatless. You can add some chicken or sausage for your omnivorous eaters.

Everything-from-the-pantry bean soup #vegetarian.

By nature and by habit, I am a decanter.

Not the kind with an hourglass figure (don't I wish?) and a cork stopper.

No, I am a person who decants almost everything in my pantry into clear jars so I can see how much of each item I have on hand. I've never been able to divine, just by looking at a box on the shelf, exactly how much sugar, or rice, or bulgur wheat, is left in the box. The smaller jars, mostly one-quart canning size, hold the things I use in smaller quantities: lentils, cocoa powder, arrowroot, table salt for baking. In medium jars, I keep various kinds of rice, and breakfast cereals. The large jars hold the basics: sugars, kosher salt, flours.

My favorite jars are what I call the amalgamators: the jar that holds leftover odds and ends of dry pasta, and the one that gathers dry beans. I only allow like-minded beans — those that cook in approximately the same time, or have the same texture or color — to cohabit. Today, my bean jar contains red kidneys and Anasazi beans, and a few navy beans hiding at the bottom. At other times, it might have cranberry beans, if I'm lucky enough to find them, or pink pintos.

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March 2, 2014

Black bean, tomato and sausage soup recipe

Black bean, tomato and sausage soup (The Perfect Pantry).

Sometimes -- most times -- I really love my well-stocked pantry. With snow swirling outside and shoveling to be done (how quickly the glow of our warm-weather vacation wore off), I reviewed what I had in the cupboard and refrigerator while I cleared a ragged just-wide-enough path to the driveway. Back in the kitchen, I sat my favorite red Dutch oven on the stovetop, and collected ingredients for this black bean, tomato and sausage soup. Absolutely everything in this recipe comes straight from the pantry, and the soup comes together in minutes if you start with canned black beans. The whole, more than the sum of its parts, restored my energy and soothed my tired muscles. Make the soup mild or spicy, depending on how much snow you have to shovel.

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January 23, 2014

Barbecue sauce (Recipe: meat-free split pea soup) {vegan, gluten-free}

Originally published in October 2006, this updated ingredient post features new photos, links, and tweaks to the recipe. Just in time for National Soup Swap, this make-ahead-and-freeze soup is vegan on its own, or you can add leftover shredded chicken or cooked sausage for an omnivore's delight.

Meat-free split pea soup, from The Perfect Pantry.

Recently, I spilled the beans about my relationship to Miracle Whip. My friends were aghast, my cooking buddies appalled, my family amused. Now, hold on to your coffee mug, because I've got another shocking pantry revelation: I keep a bottle of barbecue sauce in my refrigerator at all times.

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January 21, 2014

Recipe for sweet and sour beef cabbage soup

Sweet and sour beef cabbage soup (The Perfect Pantry).

After a day cooking stuffed cabbage rolls, I had everything left over: cooked rice, tomato juice, mirepoix vegetables (carrots, onions and celery), and some ground beef. Immediately I reached for the soup pot and began tossing in the odds and ends. With a tweak in proportions, and the addition of lemon and brown sugar, the stuffed cabbage ingredients rematerialized as a hearty sweet and sour beef cabbage soup. My husband Ted instantly proclaimed it "Blogworthy!", which is how we categorize recipes good enough to share with you. This is a forgiving soup; if you don't have tomato juice, use beef broth. If you're out of green cabbage, try red, or Savoy, or bok choy. Swap in ground turkey or chicken for the beef, or chop up some leftover rotisserie chicken. Add barley instead of rice. The soup freezes well, which makes it perfect for Soup Swap.

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January 14, 2014

Bay leaves (Recipe: pasta e fagiole) {vegetarian}

First published in December 2007, this updated ingredient post includes new photos, links, and tweaks to the recipe. Pasta e fagiole (called "pasta fazool" in some parts of New England) falls happily into the meal-in-a-bowl category. Make it ahead, and freeze it for easy worknight dinners; just add some crusty bread, a light green salad, and a glass of wine.

Pasta e fagiole (bean soup with pasta), from The Perfect Pantry.

In 1988, Richard Wilbur was asked in an interview whether, in his role as the United States' second poet laureate, he had to wear a laurel wreath. ''I wouldn't wear it outdoors because it would fall off when I played tennis,'' he answered, but he said that he might get a wreath made of bay leaves, which is a species of laurel. That way, he added, ''When I bowed my head to say grace, I could also season the soup.''

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  • My name is Lydia Walshin. From my tiny kitchen in Boston's South End, I share recipes that use what we keep in our pantries, the usual and not-so-usual ingredients that spice up our lives. Thanks so much for visiting.

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