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It is 7 P.M. You haven't been to the grocery store since last week, you are famished, and you have no ideas. You have two options:
- You can panic at the steep downward trajectory of your blood sugar and get takeout. (Been there. This is a perfectly reasonable response.)
- You can open up the cabinets and treat what you find like your personal Chopped basket of ingredients. Onions? A can of chickpeas? A wan tomato? A jar of green sauce? (Or even sparser—garlic, eggs, water?) Challenge accepted.
The latter kind of dinner, the soup-from-a-stone kind, is sometimes the most satisfying. You've wrung everything you possibly could from your little kitchen and fed yourself well. Should you need a little inspiration—well, we bet your pantry and the dregs of your refrigerator could produce at least a few of the following 18 recipes:
- Chickpeas + onion + pinches of turmeric, cumin, coriander, cayenne + cilantro:
- Canned tomatoes + onion + red pepper flakes + water + basil:
- White beans + garlic + water + parsley:
- Canned tomatoes + onion + butter (bonus points if you add cooked pasta):
- Black beans + onion + celery + a little rum:
- Cornmeal + water—just top it with whatever leftovers you have! (Or maybe some equally pantry-sourced tomato sauce?):
- Garlic + stale bread + paprika + water + eggs:
- Whatever potatoes you have + handful of cilantro or whatever green thing's wilting in your fridge + peas (they could be frozen!):
- Leftover rice + scallions + kimchi + gochujang + sesame oil + soy sauce:
- Eggs + literally anything you find in the fridge:
- Pasta + white beans (or whatever protein you've got on hand) + lemons + capers + shallots or onion + white wine:
- Potatoes + green chiles + ground coriander + ground cumin + onion + garlic + a little yogurt and cilantro (if you have them) to serve:
- Carrots + lentils + red wine vinegar + mustard + za'atar + feta:
- Pasta + butter + onions + Madeira (but you could use sherry or Marsala or stock instead, if that's what you have!). And if you have thick yogurt, too, you can make this:
- Rice + eggs + onions + coconut milk + garlic + turmeric + chili powder + tamarind paste (or, if you don't have it, a little brown sugar mixed with lime juice):
- Carrots + ginger + onion + garlic + stock:
- White beans + tuna + (red) onion + eggs + lemon + parsley or scallions or both + dukkah (or another spice mix you love!):
- Lentils + butter + curry powder + coconut milk + onion + garlic:
What do you make when the pantry's bare? Give us your best ideas in the comments.
This article originally appeared on September 17, 2016. We're re-running it now in light of winter storm season (and sparse pantries).