Make Your Leftover Sauce or Gravy into a Complete Meal

dried split peasReader Ariela sent me this message:

I had a “Cooking Manager Moment” yesterday and I “owe” dinner to you. All we had leftover was the sauce from a goulash. My husband had made a delicious goulash with meat and veggies, only 2-3 cups of the sauce were left. I remembered something you wrote about your mom making soup from things like that and your recommendations for using drippings. I put the sauce in the pressure cooker with 4 cut-up carrots, a sweet potato, water, a cup of split peas, a cup of whole grain rice and some salt. It took all of 7 minutes. I cooked it for about 40 minutes and had a delicious soup – my family licked the pot clean!

Thank you!

Meat drippings or gravy already has plenty of protein. That’s what makes it congeal. The split peas, added by Ariela, contain even more. So there’s no need to add additional meat. I did something similar with my leftover gravy, except I added a butternut squash, carrots, split peas, and some cooked bulgur with onions.

To calculate cooking times, start with the ingredient that takes the longest time to cook. In both Ariela’s recipe and mine, the split peas take the longest, about 40 minutes. When cooking in the pressure cooker, divide by three. So as soon as the cooker signals that the pressure is right, 15 minutes should be enough cooking time.

The amount of water to add can be tricky. A good estimate would be about double the amount of raw grains and legumes. So if you put in half a cup of raw brown rice and half a cup of dried peas, add an extra 2 cups of water. If you are starting off with thin sauce, you’ll need less additional water. If most of the liquid is absorbed by the grains, call it risotto instead of soup.

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Photo credit: Jessica Mullen


  1. Inspired by last week’s success, I tried something different today. We had two different types of leftover chicken: baked chicken with potatos and stewed chicked with tomatos and peas. There were about two pieces of chicken left in each and about two cups of sauce. Not enuf to feed my hungry family of 7 (w/3 teenagers). I put the sauce from both in a pan and cut the chicken off the bones and added that. Then I added more frozen peas, two frozen tomatos, fresh pumpkin, two carrots, a cup of red lentils and salt. It took all of 10 minutes and I’ll let you know how it goes over with the family tonight. I plan to serve it on couscous – as you recommended.
    I was always stressed about Sunday night dinner; we always had leftovers from shabbat, but not enuf for everyone. This ides of yours has really opened my eyes and made Sun. night dinner easy.

  2. This is interesting, because in our house my husband makes gravy from soup, not the other way around. Any port in a leftover storm, eh?

  3. The soup from leftover chicken dishes came out fantastic! Another “CM moment”!

  4. I just can’t bring myself to be fleishig without actually eating meat. It just seems wrong 🙂 hehe

  5. Ms. Krieger says

    I know what you mean about fleishig without actually eating meat. But it has a lot of historical precedent…apparently Northern and Eastern European Jews didn’t have pareve cooking oils. So if all you had in the house to fry was some duck fat, you were fleishig, no matter what.
    Makes me grateful for our modern food distribution system and the New World crops (sunflowers, canola, etc.)

  6. Ms. Krieger,if you were lucky you had some butter too.