I am working on reducing food waste this year. Have you ever made Stone Soup (aka, whatever-veggies-you-have soup)? This week I had a lot of veggies that would become a part of my shameful Fridge Purge task had I not cooked them, so I made a version of Stone Soup. There are no rules for Stone Soup, and here’s how I do it.
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A shameful task
Once, and sometimes twice, a month, I have a shameful task on my to-do list: Fridge Purge. This is when I go through my fridge and pitch that which has gone by.
Most of the time it isn’t too bad, a few vegetables that I just didn’t get to eat in time, maybe some salad greens, a bit of milk. Sometimes, though, it’s worse than that. Eggs and cream from when I was going to make ice cream and then didn’t. More vegetables. Most of the time I cook or freeze meat in time. Leftovers can easily get the best of me if I’m not careful.
Food waste is a huge problem
It got worse for me during the CovidTimes, as in the BeforeTimes, I used to shop for food as I was going to cook it, and during Covid, I order a week’s worth of groceries up front, sometimes not being overly careful about what I clicked into my cart.
Food waste is a huge problem, especially in the US. The USDA estimates that waste accounts for 30-40% of the country’s food supply. When we think of how many people go hungry, this number percentage is just unacceptable.
Grocery shopping and the single person
Grocery shopping as a single person presents challenges—most food is sold in quantities suitable to at least two people, and, more often, families. Freezers only hold so much, especially tiny apartment freezers, and, well, sometimes one just doesn’t want to eat something ten times.
Using up produce
A couple of years ago, I took advantage of introductory offers and signed up for a number of meal kit services (I doctored the recipes) and really liked the limited quantities. However, once the deal expires, the premium paid for a suitable amount of cilantro becomes a bit untenable (plus, there’s a lot of packaging).
Reducing food waste: one of my major goals
Something I have wanted to work on this year is cutting back on food waste. I’ve signed up for Misfits Market to buy food that would otherwise go to waste. My first shipment comes next week. Also, I’ve tried to stop making my freezer a waystation of good intentions on the way to the landfill.
And, I am taking advantage of “not recipes” like Stone Soup to use up my produce.
What is Stone Soup?
What is Stone Soup? It’s soup you make to use up whatever veggies you have on hand. I made a version with cabbage. I had some potatoes I planned to use in it, but they were better off than I thought that they were, so I boiled them to go with my pork chop (and, yes, I used the Julia Child recipe).
Recipe for Stone Soup below.
Stone Soup: The Cabbage Version
- 4 carrots these were short and stubby
- 1 medium onion
- 2 stalks celery
- 1/3 head cabbage
- 1 sprig thyme a sprig, parsley (3 springs), a bay leaf, celery leaves (from one of the stalks)
- 3 sprig flat-leaf Parsley
- 1 sprig celery leaves from one of the stalks
- 1 dried bay leaf
- 1 clove garlic large (or 2 small)
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup red wine
- 6 cups beef stock enough to cover. You may need to add more.
- 1 Tbsp Tomato paste start with less, and add as needed
- 1/2 tbsp Hot paprika I only had Spanish on hand—apparently it’s time to order Hungarian, about a half teaspoon. I started with a quarter and scaled up as I tasted
- 1 dash Liquid Smoke I added this as I was tasting. If you don't have this, but have smoked paprika, that would work too.
- Peel and chop the onion
- Peel and thinly slice the garlic
- Peel and slice the carrots
- Slice the celery
- Shred the cabbage, not super thin. I tried to match it up with my veggies
- In a heavy bottomed pot with a lid (I use Le Creuset), gently melt the butter over low heat. Add the onion and garlic. Give it a good stir. Cover, and sweat (keep an eye on it; you don’t want anything to brown)
- When the onions are soft, add the rest of the veggies. Give a good stir, salt generously, and then stir again. Cover and sweat for a few minutes (this really depends on the quantity and the size of the veggie pieces). Nothing should brown
- Uncover, add the red wine and stir. Then add the stock, herbs, tomato paste, and paprika. Add a few twists of pepper. Add a dash of Liquid Smoke. Increase the heat to medium and bring to a boil
- Once the soup has boiled, turn heat down to low to simmer. Give it a taste, and adjust the seasoning (if it tastes a little bland, try a little more salt—that’s usually the issue). Keep tasting it and adjust
- Simmer until the veggies are cooked to your liking
- Serve with a little butter on the bottom of the bowl or a little cream. Crusty bread is nice