I grew up in a time when fresh parsley garnished everything, so, I use parsley a lot and I always have it on hand. When I have more parsley than I can use, I discard the stems, chop the leaves and lay them out on paper towels. When the parsley is so dry that it crackles, I place it in a clean, dry jar and store the jar in the refrigerator. I have parsley in fridge right now, and it is as green as the day I put it there – almost a year ago. When reconstituted with something liquid, such as water or broth, the taste of homemade dried parsley is nearly equal to fresh. And, it’s divine sprinkle liberally over things such as soup.
Besides parsley, the other thing I nearly always have on hand is ground beef. When I catch a sale, I buy five pounds at a time and divide it into one-pound packages, labeled with the date I bought it and the kind of ground beef it is (chuck, sirloin, or lean), for the freezer. When wrapped in freezer-suitable packaging, such as freezer bags, rigid plastic containers, vacuum-sealed bags, heavy-duty foil or freezer paper, ground beef will keep for three to four months. For the sake of quality, however, it is preferable not to store ground beef in its grocery store wrapping in the freezer for more than one month.
For its versatility, it is hard to beat ground beef. Not only do we use ground beef for making meals both simple and involved, but also we are comfortable serving it at casual events such as potlucks and tailgates, or to guests both unexpected and invited. For families, suppers that include ground beef is often the go-to choice for casseroles, skillet-dishes, crock-pot fare, ethnic entreés – and soups.
When making soup with ground beef, be sure to select lean beef, or you’ll be skimming a lot of unwanted fat from your stockpot and serving bowls. In addition to the broth, which will be laden with fat, the fat from the meat will cook itself into whatever other ingredients your soup contains, making an otherwise healthful soup into something undesirably not. Hamburger Soup and Albondigas (Mexican Meatball Soup) are nourishing and satisfying. In addition, they freeze well and, if packed properly, will keep for three months.