Soup from Leftovers: A Frugal “Garbage Soup” Recipe that was MASSIVE FAIL!

Tapioca Garbage Soup - an attempt at frugality that failed miserably.

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Soup from Leftovers and Garbage Soup are usually really delicious. Out of the thousands of meals Annette has prepared over the years, fewer than five have gone uneaten.

This is the story of an infamous one that has become a family legend.

The Concept of Soup from Leftovers / Garbage Soup

That’s right, Garbage Soup. It doesn’t sound appetizing, but in reality, it can be.

Several years ago, Annette read about the concept of saving small portions of leftovers to make soup and decided to incorporate the practice into her money-saving habits.

Whenever she had less than one serving of green beans, corn, mixed veggies, beets or any other vegetable, she’d pour them into a one-gallon glass jar – kept in the freezer – and save it for making soup.

How to Make Garbage Soup

She’d save things like gravy, small pieces of meat, and single servings of rice or beans were also added. When the jar was full, she would allow it to thaw, pour it into an 8-quart pot, add a few fresh ingredients to balance out the “recipe” and cook.

A Funny Story About the “Recipe”

The Garbage Soup concept isn’t as bad as it sounds; as a matter of fact, the soup has received rave reviews. Not only did our kids love it, but a family with whom we shared a meal of Garbage Soup when their mom was sick raved about it.

Later the mother of the family said to Annette, “We really enjoyed the soup, it was delicious. Could I have the recipe?”

“The recipe?” Annette stammered.

“Well, it’s an old family recipe,” she muttered, adding under her breath, “about 2 months old.”

So with the family enthusiastic and friends raving about the flavor, Garbage Soup made its way into our lives on a regular basis.

The Day Soup from Leftovers Failed

That was until the fateful day when Annette tried something new.

The glass jar in the freezer was full. It was a cold winter day – perfect for a large pot of soup to be simmering on the stove, filling the house with a delicious aroma.

Making the Soup

She defrosted the “ingredients” and started adding carrots, beans and whatever met her fancy at the moment – you know how great chefs are, they feel the recipe and know when it’s “just right.”

Adding the Fateful Ingredient

As she pulled ingredients out of the fridge, she discovered about two servings of tapioca pudding in a small plastic container.

It smelled OK. She paused, considered the texture and the flavor possibilities and decided that a little sweetness in the soup wouldn’t hurt. Well . . . .


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Economides Tapioca Soup

The Family Tries the New Soup from Leftovers Recipe

The table was set, the family was seated and the soup was served. We all lifted spoons in eager anticipation. Garbage Soup is always an adventure. We blew on our spoonfuls of soup with small wispy sounds in preparation to partake.

Then the first taste . . . and . . . um . . . well

There were no gags, no exclamations, just puzzled looks as we all tried to comprehend the odd sweet and salty, chewy and bouncy experience we were having.

Another taste confirmed that something was amiss. John, our eldest, was the first to exclaim, “Mom! What did you put in this soup?”

There was a moment of stunned silence as Annette’s mind raced back six hours and flipped through a mental list of ingredients. She said, “Carrots, green beans, a whole jar of Garbage Soup fixings and, oh, that’s right . . . remember that tapioca pudding we had last week? I threw that in, too!

That ended the meal. 

Fortunately, she had also baked some excellent cheese muffins (get the recipe here), which were promptly devoured.

We tried to do something useful with the tapioca soup. We gave each of our dogs (90-pound German shepherds) a serving mixed with their regular food.

2 German Shepherd dogs holding food bowls.

Well, you know something is really bad when even the dogs won’t touch it.

Have you ever had a Frugal Fail?

Soup From Leftovers? Tapioca/ Garbage Soup Recipe - a frugal fail story.

To the Dogs!

I just read your Tapioca Soup article. We have three children and a long time ago, we qualified for a program called Woman Infants and Children (WIC). In this program, we received vouchers for milk, cheese, cereal, peanut butter, and dry peas.

We weren’t fond of dried peas, but not wanting to waste, we tried different varieties. So I made a huge pot of lentil soup! We had never tried a lentil before -— didn’t even know what a lentil really was. But they looked good, felt smooth and even smelled yummy while the soup was simmering.

My dad was visiting that day, and having grown up during the depression, he ate “most” everything. While the soup wasn’t exactly bad tasting, it was rather “rich,” with lentils. My dad didn’t finish what he was served, complaining that he ate a big lunch before coming. My husband and I choked it down, but we certainly weren’t interested in the next 52 meals worth that we had left.

So, we figured that it would be a good treat for the dogs. Now you know something is too much when even the retrievers won’t eat it! Lisa from Wisconsin


Questions About Making Garbage Soup

I have a question about your Garbage Soup recipe.  I was wondering…

#1 – do you have a standard soup base you use or just do you just use whatever you have handy?

#2 – is there anything you WON’T use for Garbage soup? (Besides Tapioca)

#3 – do you keep over meat with the veggies in the same container in the freezer?

I cook quite a bit, so please feel free to answer from the perspective of familiarity with cooking terms, scratch recipes, etc. Thank you so much for everything you do! I appreciate your newsletters and I have one of your books – great stuff in it! (How to Cut your Grocery Bill in Half) Have a great day!  Annie :0)

You ask great questions.
1) The soup base can be anything you want. If the gravy has been added to your jar, then all you need to add is water. If if you do not have gravy in your soup jar, then you can add chicken, beef or vegetable broth any way you like. From scratch or with water and bullion cubes.

2) It seems that sweet does not mix well with savory when it comes to soup, but you can experiment with this if you want.

3) Meat, vegetables, and gravy are all kept in the one-gallon jar!


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1 thought on “Soup from Leftovers: A Frugal “Garbage Soup” Recipe that was MASSIVE FAIL!

  1. Kami Crum

    Moms spam caerole it was so bad that the next day she served it to the cat & dog, the dog sniffed& walked off,the cat tried to burrt it, just like after they poop!

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