Souped up Leftovers

After enjoying a great dinner of Chinese at your favorite restaurant, have you ever wondered what to do with leftover Chinese food? Like our favorite leftover chicken dishes, a lot can be done with these scrumptious leftovers.  I tend to leave the food boxes on the kitchen counter so I can “graze” for the rest of the evening. Whether I’m watching a movie, reading or working on my website, I’ll frequently take a walk through the kitchen and come out with anything from a bite of General Tso’s, a Peking Ravioli or a lonely Crab Rangoon.

Anyone who loves General Tso’s Chicken knows it loses its deliciously crunchy coating quite quickly, so must be consumed almost immediately. Even as a “take out” favorite, by the time we get home it’s almost too late. I’ve tried several methods of reheating it the next day to no avail. So…I graze.


While leftover Egg Foo Young is great for breakfast (yes…breakfast…after all, it’s basically an omelet) or lunch by reheating in a skillet, my favorite Chinese leftovers are House Fried Rice (complete with onions, shrimp, pieces of chicken and pork, and of course… peas), the usual side of brown rice, Teriyaki or curry chicken and boneless spare ribs. And, nothing tastes better than Hot & Sour or Miso soup when I’m literally shut down with a cold.

For healthier dining, ask for brown rice as the side…never white.

Time to get creative…

chicken-fried-riceLet’s do a quick chicken stir fry:

  • Go through your refrigerator…got an onion in there? Dice up some red or Vidalia onion and sauté in a heated skillet (over medium heat) with a tablespoon of good olive oil and one tablespoon melted butter. Stir to get the onions coated and then sprinkle with roasted garlic and herb seasoning.
  • Toss in one or two minced garlic cloves and stir.  Let cook until the onions start to caramelize.
  • Back to the fridge…grab a few celery stalks, slice ’em up and toss ’em in.
  • Add a splash or two of a good white wine to deglaze the skillet, scraping up all the delicious browned bits of onion and garlic.
  • Chop the Teriyaki or curry chicken into bite size pieces and add.
  • You may need to add more butter to the skillet at this point.
  • Then add the House Fried Rice and any side of brown rice left over.  Stir to combine and cook over medium heat until hot and delicious.


Let’s soup up our leftovers:

  • Follow all the directions for stir fry but if you’ve already eaten the chicken, brown organic chicken and vegetable sausage cut into bite size pieces…it’s delicious in soup and adds another layer of flavor.
  • Add enough chicken stock to cover the ingredients and toss in 2 or 3 chicken bouillon cubes for extra flavor.

⇒ Check out my recipe for Homemade Chicken Stock.

  • I like to add a can of garlic & herb diced tomatoes, a few stalks of chopped celery and perhaps a little chopped red bell pepper.
  • Check the refrigerator for anything else to throw in like perhaps a summer squash. Just peel and chop.
  • For color and health benefits, add some chopped spinach. Taste and season as desired.
  • Cook over medium to medium-low heat until everything is hot and delicious. You’re all set to go and you’ll still have plenty for another meal tomorrow.

Don’t leave out the beef:

  • To prepare a quick and easy soup dish with leftover beef teriyaki, sizzling beef or beef broccoli, all you need to do is melt a tablespoon butter with a tablespoon of good olive oil in your soup pot. If desired, sauté some shallots, red or Vidalia onion until soft.
  • Toss in the beef, cut into bite size pieces and stir.
  • Add any broccoli or other leftover steamed vegetables that came with your dinner….don’t forget the pea pods and those cute little ears of corn.

Years ago, I tried to grow my own corn on the cob. They never grew any larger than the tiny ears of corn served in Chinese food…but I harvested them anyway and served my entire crop with dinner one night.

  • Add leftover Lo Mein or rice noodles and cover with beef stock. Cook over medium-low heat until well heated through and enjoy.


Don’t take leftovers at face value…be creative and make a whole new meal. The possibilities are endless and it’s fun to experiment.  And sometimes leftovers are even better the second time around. 

I look forward to your feedback and comments below.  Do you have a favorite way to prepare and enjoy leftover Chinese food or are you one of the many that take it to work the next day and heat it up in the microwave? If so, try something new…you may surprise yourself.  I’d love to hear about it.

Be sociable…please like and share.


2 comments to Souped up Leftovers

  • Elizabeth

    I love this! Such a great idea. I usually just heat up my leftovers in the microwave the next day but this sounds way better. I’m going to try it next time we get Chinese.

    • Karen

      Thanks for your comments, Elizabeth. Let’s get more creative with our leftovers…they’re always getting a bad rap. Maybe by recreating them we won’t hear “What? Leftovers, again?” If you have a great leftover idea, please share it.

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