You’ve got it all worked out. You’re going to have a really virtuous, healthy week. Your meals are all planned, the shopping is done and the fridge is full of wonderful fresh produce. All sorted, right?
So why do you end up with a fridge full of unloved veggies languishing in the bottom of the fridge by the end of the week? Often, the problem is that ‘life’ gets in the way.
There could be any number of things that stop you following through on your plans. One day a friend calls to see if you want to meet up after work. Another day, a new deadline catches you unawares and you need to work late leaving little time to cook up the healthy feast you had planned.
Whatever the reason, you’ve a pile of veggies in the bottom of the fridge and they all need eating right now.
Food waste is a big problem and costs UK families a fortune so don’t just give up and throw the veggies on the compost heap, or worse still in the dustbin, its fridge bottom soup time!
This isn’t a recipe as such. It’s more of an idea for how to use up a collection of veggies which can be quite simply thrown together in anticipation of that warming loveliness you get from a big bowl of soup or stew.
So, get out your biggest saucepan or, if you’re lucky enough to have a large capacity slow cooker, that will work perfectly too. Next get out your veg and peel (DO NOT throw away the peelings, more on this later) and chop them to roughly even sized pieces. It doesn’t have to be perfect but if they are roughly all the same size they will cook in roughly the same amount of time.
You might want to think about adding onions and garlic if you don’t already have them as they will really help to lift the flavour of the finished soup.
What goes into the pot?
You can use all kinds of veggies. This is the perfect way to use up half a bag of this or a quarter of that. Some of the veggies you could include are:
- Sweet potatoes
- Butternut squash
Put all of the prepared veggies into your pan or slow cooker and top up with water, or homemade stock (see below). Add some dried herbs and a twist of salt and pepper and most of the work is done.
The beauty of this ‘recipe’ is that pretty much anything goes.
If I don’t have any fresh tomatoes sometimes I add passata or tomato puree to give a lovely rich tomato base.
You could also try using smoky paprika to add another layer of flavour.
Or use curry spices to convert it into a warming, veggie curry.
If you happen to have some lentils, barley, chickpeas or beans all the better. Any of these will transform your soup into a hearty one pot meal to warm your cockles on a winter evening. Be aware that if you’ll be using a dried version, rather than tinned, they may need to be soaked overnight first, so build some time in for this. Be sure to check the packet before you get started. and pre-cook them if necessary.
When everything is in the pan all you need to do is bring it up to a simmer and wait.
Leave your pot simmering gently, stirring occasionally, until all of the veg and any lentils/beans etc are cooked. If at any point it starts to look a bit too dry just add a bit more water.
Once it is ready you can enjoy a steaming bowl of delicious homemade soup or stew and congratulate yourself on saving the veggies from the compost heap. Even better still, if you’ve made up a big enough batch you can portion up the leftovers and freeze for easy homemade lunches or quick dinners
So what about those peelings I hear you ask?
You make fridge bottom stock with them of course!
After you’ve portioned up your soup, throw all of the veg peelings into the pan. Add a few peppercorns, a couple of bay leaves and some dried mixed herbs.
Top up the pan with water. Then bring to the boil then turn down the heat and leave it to simmer for 45 – 50 mins. Then simply turn off the heat, pop a lid on the pan and leave it to cool down. This allows all of the flavour to be drawn out of the veg.
When it’s cool enough to handle without scaling yourself, strain the liquid.
Hey presto! You have a great stock which can be frozen, ready to use as the base for the next time fridge bottom soup day strikes.
Two for the price of one, no more unloved veggies and no food waste!