Usually, the issue in the test kitchen is not what to eat for lunch but how much. Granted, it may be a strange assortment of foods (braised artichokes, chopped liver, and derby pie, anyone?), but victuals always abound. That is, every day except Monday, when we have yet to shop and cook for the week. With paltry pantry pickings, whoever gets hungry first plays the role of Iron Chef and whips up something on the fly. We affectionately call it our “walk-in lunch” as we make the meal from whatever’s in the fridge (“walk-in” being a term borrowed from restaurants where all perishables are stored in walk-in fridges).

Despite the scary potential flavor combos and meals that come from throwing together leftover bits of this and that, we usually come up with tasty treats. The key seems to be using a good dose of interesting spice. This week: a comforting parsnip-potato soup topped with leftover toasted pumpkin seeds from last week’s cotija-cilantro salad (recipe due out in May). For the soup, we simply sautéed some garlic, onions, celery, and carrot until browned, added parsnips, potatoes, thyme, and broth, and cooked until the vegetables were knife tender. After a few whirls in the blender with some nutmeg and some toasted pumpkin seed oil, lunch was served. Just a reminder that you should be inspired not defeated by the leftovers in your fridge, as you never know what walk-in genius may arise.

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