Budget cooking, part 1 (macaroni soup)
If there’s one really important thing that I’ve learned during the final stages of the TasteBook project it is that I really should be more appreciative of the role of editors. Not that I believe that editors should take all the liberty to practically recompose the writer’s text. But this task of searching for and correcting typos, tenses and punctuation marks is no joke. In the newspaper and magazine I write for, that’s someone else’s job. There are editors there to deal with my oversight and occasional carelessness. But with the TasteBook, there’s just me and editing my own writing isn’t a piece of cake.
So, I really need to take a break from the editing job. In fact, I should take a break from it every few days to refresh my head. And what better way than to write some more about food but from a totally different perspective. While I finish the TasteBook, I’m starting a “budget cooking” series in Home Cooking Rocks!. Why budget cooking? Gee, I know don’t how things are where you’re at but in the Philippines the price of food items, from basic to luxury, is rising so fast it makes my head spin. To kick off the series, let me tell you about this macaroni soup made from scrap bones.
Scrap bones, sometimes called soup bones in the supermarket, are beef or pork bones from which the meat has been cut off. While some scrap bones are really bereft of any meat, there are some to which a generous amount of meat is still attached. Choose the latter when buying scrap bones to make soup. And choose large bones that have been split down the middle because these make the most flavorful broth.
The macaroni soup that you see in the photo was the third soup I cooked from a kilo and a half of scrap bones. I simmered the bones with whole onions, garlic and peppercorns in about 18 cups of water yesterday morning then I divided the resulting broth into three portions. The first portion became an onion egg-drop soup for yesterday’s lunch, the second portion was made into a tofu and green onion soup for last night’s dinner, and the third portion became today’s macaroni soup.
Why so much soup in the menu, you may ask. Everyone is down with a bug, myself included. Colds, cough, scratchy throat, slight fever… It’s in the air, actually, because of the changing seasons. And soup helps tremendously. They are nourishing, easy to eat, easy to digest and they provide a lot of fluid to the body.
To make the macaroni soup, pick the meat from the scrap bones. After simmering for hours, the meat should be very, very tender. Just tear them off the bones then pull them apart with your hands so that you have small pieces of meat.
Heat the broth until boiling. Add some elbow macaroni and allow to boil. Add the meat and a chopped carrot. Simmer slowly until the macaroni is done. Season with salt and pepper. Pour in about a cup of milk (I use low-fat milk) — more, if you prefer — then throw in some chopped onion leaves, heat to almost boiling then turn off the heat. If you feel that you need to balance the frugality with a little luxury, sprinkle with a little grated Parmesan cheese before serving.