Recipe of the Week: Dish End Soup

The following detailed recipe was kindly sent to us by SurvivalBlog reader Debra in Missouri:

Dish End Soup

Being a bookworm at heart, I’ve amassed a small collection of books on rationing, wartime cooking and famine. Inspiration for this recipe comes from a book by Wong Hong Suen called WARTIME KITCHEN: Food and Eating in Singapore 1942-1950. Published in 2009 by National Museum of Singapore, it contains a wealth of information about the public adaptation to wartime scarcity. “Dish ends became a gourmet food. This was the soup stock made from boiling all the food left over by customers of Chinese restaurants … workers would boil all leftovers in a huge pot … everyday around 1 or pm, people carrying soup bowls and mugs would start to queue up at the back doors of these restaurants to buy the dish-ends” (page 58).

My version draws on our leftovers that need to be used up, the stray vegetable in the crisper that is starting to go limp, the lone piece of bacon or sausage left from breakfast, meager gleanings at the beginning and end of each garden planting cycle, as well as staples from the larder & long-term storage. The good news about this soup is that you can practice this bit of frugality whether you live on a massive ranch, tiny homestead, small town or regularly have your meals delivered by Door Dash or Uber Eats to your luxury apartment. You would be surprised the depth of flavor you get from mixing things you would have never considered before. The example I’ll give is simmering on the back burner of the stove right now.


A few spoonsful of baked beans from yesterday’s noon meal (can of chili beans, 1 diced jalapeno, 1 T of dried onion from the larder, grated carrot, brown sugar, ketchup, mustard, squirt of maple syrup, bacon)

Peas from today’s noon meal (can of peas, a diced jalapeno, a big splash of chicken broth from a carton, a sprinkle of dried onion, some hard salami scraps chopped up, some shredded carrot left over from the cole slaw)

Leftover pieces of the smoked pork chops we had for today’s noon meal cut into bite-sized pieces (I cooked with crushed pineapple & brown sugar, the remains from the cooking pan were dumped into the soup mixture as well)

The smoked pork chop bones

Cole slaw left over from today’s noon meal (shredded cabbage & carrots with a vinegar-based dressing)

1 small apple left over from making apple cider chopped into small pieces which will basically cook down into the broth (I picked the apples from my stepbrother’s tree, had enough apples to make one gallon of cider with my juicer to let ferment into apple cider vinegar. It’s in the “hard cider stage” right now and smells tempting, but I want that apple cider vinegar).

1 small potato peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces (my hubby likes potato in his soup), this helps to stretch the amount, when I don’t have a lot of leftovers, but I don’t want them to go to waste.


Combine all ingredients into an appropriate pan, mine is going on the stove so a large saucepan was my choice. If you are camping, it can go into your dutch oven or stew pot to cook with the heat from your campfire or camp stove.

Add sufficient liquid (I am using water and chicken stock) to cover the ingredients and then stir well.

Bring to a boil and then turn the heat down to simmer, stirring occasionally and adding more liquid if necessary. Depending on your situation you can let it simmer until time to eat or let it simmer until you are happy with the results. At home, I’ll keep enough to eat for the evening meal and freeze the rest for an evening when I don’t feel like cooking.

Keep in mind, this recipe is a pattern to spark your own creativity. Remember, if you don’t have enough leftovers, you can add potatoes, rice, sweet potatoes, beans (great use for those you have in long-term storage) or pasta to the soup to stretch it. The idea is to start thinking frugally, trying to never waste a morsel of food. If you don’t have chicken broth, but want more flavor you can add tomatoes, (canned, fresh, sundried or dehydrated), a can of soup (cream of chicken or mushroom for example), a package of gravy mix, a bouillon cube, or a spoon of marmite. If you have mainly vegetables and need more protein throw in some beans, freeze-dried chicken from your long-term storage, or small tin of chicken from the larder. Be creative and practice.

In the foreword to WARTIME KITCHEN Christopher Tan Yu Wei writes “Wartime Kitchen is really not so much about food as about the lack of it. It is about the mental and physical burdens that come with deprivation, but more importantly, it is also about the creativity that flowers during especially barren times.   Not taking food for granted – indeed, having to battle for every scrap – makes one more attentive, and more aware of possibilities.”

Do you have a favorite recipe that would be of interest to SurvivalBlog readers? In this weekly recipe column, we place emphasis on recipes that use long-term storage foods, recipes for wild game, dutch oven and slow cooker recipes, and any that use home garden produce. If you have any favorite recipes, then please send them via e-mail. Thanks!