I never tell people I’m a food blogger because I think it sounds super pretentious (I almost just wrote food blooger, which probably more accurately sums up how I feel about the moniker). Instead, I would prefer to tell people that I’m really, really, really into food, and I also like to talk a lot, and I enjoy writing, and therefore I write like I talk about food. Simple.
One of the things that I’ve had to reconcile with my identity as a food-loving cooker extraordinaire is the issue of food waste. [If you’re not interested in my thoughts on food waste, head right to the bottom for the recipe for radish greens soup, because it’s a winner]. Of course, there are also other related issues such as food shortages, excessive consumption of non-nutritious food, the dumping of unsold or unused food, and the use of GMOs, but I digress. The amount of food waste that is produced by myself is something that I can control. Of course, it’s important to only buy what you think you will use, and this comes with practice and habit. For me, it’s really important that I have a plan before I head to the grocery store on Sunday: what I’m going to make and when, what ingredients I need to prep, and what, if anything, I’m going to buy pre-made. It’s also really important to me that I control the amount of salt and sugar in my diet; I don’t see any point in ingesting all of the unnecessary extra salt and sugar that is in so many premade sauces and dressings, and honestly most of those things taste way better when made at home. Plus I can customize things to my own taste; for example, I (or someone in the house) will usually make a big batch of salad dressing early in the week, and then I just use that on my lunches all week (I’m also partial to the combo of the wild mushroom olive oil and the fig balsamic vinegar from the fancy oil store, but these are some of the few things that I am very happy to buy premade!). When I make my own Caeasar salad dressing, I don’t use an egg yolk and I cut half the olive oil with grapeseed oil so the dressing is lighter (plus obvi I don’t add mayo…mayo only belongs on burgers!). I guess when written down, it all seems a bit maniacal on the no added salt/sugar/mayo, but I think it all sort of evolved basically because I like to cook, and just fundamentally because homemade always taste better. Don’t get me wrong, I go out to eat on a regular basis and eat lots of unhealthy foods; we make a lot of nachos in my house!
Anyway, back to my actual point. So when I head to the grocery store, I need to have my plan for what I’m eating all week (including planned takeaway nights, because really who is cooking every single night). I will usually cook several different things one or two nights a week and then just rearrange leftovers for other meals. What I have a huge problem with, though, is wasting food: for example, lots of recipes only use one or two ribs of celery, and I’m left with the rest of the bunch. Or with 2/3 of a can of tomato paste. At this point, I’ve taken to freezing lots of things (tomato paste in dollops on parchment, bones of roasts for future stock-making, Parmesan rinds, etc) and that certainly helps, but there’s lots of ways to improve. It’s not even about being thrifty (although that definitely does not hurt!), but it just seems so dumb to me to buy food and then essentially throw away half of it, or at least not use it to its full potential. What kind of “food blooger” would I be if I couldn’t come up with some creative ways to use the whole vegetable? Fergus Henderson did it with hogs, and I can damn well do it with vegetables!
In pursuit of this, I’ve seen some recipes for carrot top pesto, which I think is a great idea because the carrot top greens always look so sprightly, it’s such a shame to throw them away. This week my adventure was to make soup from radish top greens, and it was so delicious, plus I felt so pleased with myself for not throwing away this completely edible source of nutrients and deliciousness (pleased as punch, one could say…). The soup blended up thin but I thickened it a bit just by simmering it for an extra 10 minutes; it had a great spring flavour, almost like a light split-pea soup. Plus the addition of the chicken made it a perfect midday snack/early dinner, and I think it would be fab as a seated app, with or without the chicken.
Radish Greens Soup, or The New Vichyssoise
About 15 minutes active time, plus at least 30 minutes to simmer. The cooking of the vegetables and blending can be done ahead of time and the soup reheated later on; swirl through sour cream just before serving.
Ingredients (makes 4 starter/snack size servings; scale up as needed)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium shallot or small onion, diced
- 1 potato, diced
- radish greens from one bunch of radishes
- 1 chicken thigh/breast
- 1 carrot, sliced
- 1 celery stalk, sliced
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tablespoons sour cream
1. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a pot; add onion and potato and sweat for about 7 minutes, stirring to prevent sticking.
2. Add the radish greens, and cook for 2-3 minutes.
3. Add in the chicken and brown on both sides.
4. Add the carrots, celery, bay leaf, and about 2 cups water. Bring pot to the boil, cover and turn down heat. Allow to simmer for minimum of 30 minutes.
5. Take the pot off the heat, and allow to cool briefly. Take out the chicken and shred using 2 forks.
6. Blend up the soup using an immersion blender or an actual blender (if using a blender, wait until the soup is cool before blending, as blending hot liquids = lots of splashing). Pro tip: put the pot into the sink and blend with the immersion blender to avoid splashes.
7. Taste soup, adding salt and pepper as needed. This is a thin soup, but if it is too thin for your liking, boil it over high heat for about 10 minutes to reduce and thicken.
8. To serve, swirl through the sour cream, and top with the shredded chicken and some sliced radish.
That was unusually ranty. Now I want to buy more radishes just so I can make this soup… Let me know how you make out if you give this (or the carrot top pesto) a try!
(Some of this post was originally posted on Calgary Is Awesome by yours truly: http://calgaryisawesome.com/2015/05/28/waste-not-want-not/)