I mentioned in my last “Waste Not, Want Not” post that it is really useful when trying to cut down waste to have a handful of basic recipes that you can throw together with minimal ingredients in order to use up your leftovers.
If you are new to cooking, this is actually quite a nice, easy way to learn – pick up the basics and adapt to your tastes or based on what you have in your pantry/fridge. Learning simple recipes for basic pasta sauces, egg dishes like omelettes, simple soups, stir-fries etc. is an excellent way to reduce waste.
If, like me, you are a big fan of cooking and love trying new exciting recipes, this can feel a little restrictive at first. But I’ve actually found it to be really fun long-term. It takes you back to the basics and teaches you skills that will improve all levels of cooking. It also gets you to explore your creativity. You learn the simple structure and then use your imagination and get to discover things you possibly wouldn’t have if you were following a more complex recipe more closely.
One of the best recipes I have ever found for this kind of simple, creative cooking is “Green Soup”. Not only is it an excellent way to get your greens in to your daily diet, but it’s also incredibly delicious (even my 9-month-old loves them!) and a wonderful way to use up wilting greens that you would usually chuck straight in the bin.
I discovered it while doing my sugar detox earlier this year – I Quit Sugar have a great basic recipe for it. I played around with it a little, and my family loved it so much that we have made it a regular fixture whenever we are at the end of the wilting salad or spinach or slightly-yellowish broccoli sitting at the bottom of our fridge. This veg that is so good for us and yet would usually go into the bin without a second glance comes together to make an incredibly nutritious and delicious soup.
What more could you ask for?
Based on “Cheesy Green Mish-Mash Soup” from the I Quit Sugar cookbook.
1 onion, chopped
a couple of chopped cloves of garlic, optional
800-900g mix of green vegetables of your choice (fresh or frozen, cooked or raw, new or on-the-turn: I love courgette, broccoli and spinach, but tend to use whatever needs eating in the fridge)
800ml-1 litre stock (try homemade vegetable or chicken stock for best results), depending on how thick you like your soups
a couple of handful of dark lettuce leaves (any you have on hand, fresh or wilting, will do – I love rocket and watercress or fresh spinach)
a small handful of fresh herbs of your choice (I like to use mint and parsley, which I always have in my freezer and just chuck straight in frozen)
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tsp of pesto, optional
handful of grated cheese of your choice, optional (I love really mature cheddar as it adds to the flavour)
to serve: fresh crusty bread (or stale bread in cubes and fried lightly as croutons), good cheese, and wine make this feel like a gorgeously decadent meal
1. Fry the onion in butter or coconut oil (the smell is amazing!) on low-medium heat for about 5-10 mins, or until translucent and just starting to go golden. Add the garlic and green vegetables and fry for another minute, then cover with stock and bring to the boil.
2. Simmer for 10-15 mins, until all your veg is soft and cooked through. Add the herbs, lettuce leaves and lemon juice and take off the heat as the lettuce wilts down. Puree and serve with cheese (and croutons) if using.
3. Repeat whenever you discover greens wilting in your fridge!