- a blog about food and value

Using up the Leftovers


Wasting food is wasting money. We will be running a number of recipes here for stray bits of food that look headed for the bin or compost heap.

A few days ago, I came home to a fridge with a few vegetables, some parsley in need of use, and some bread and butter. The rest of the cupboards were bare. I would be away for a few days after, so if the vegetables weren’t eaten then, they’d need to be thrown out. I needed a quick, easy and nutritious dinner for one.

A simple vegetable soup was the answer. It took me 10 minutes to prepare, and it was ready within another 20 minutes. I had enough to freeze three more portions in some in Tupperware containers I got in Dunnes. This will be perfect for quick, easy lunches over Christmas and New Year when I’m on the go and never know when I’ll be home.

The bread was a bit stale but it was lovely when grilled with cheese and tomato, and topped with rocket (which again would have gone to the bin), English mustard, mayonnaise, and some black pepper.

I saved money twice here: firstly by making this rather than falling into the trap of buying something to take home for my dinner, and secondly by not wasting food.

cookbook-cafefreshThis vegetable soup is creamy, peppery, and deeply satisfying. It’s inspired by a Carrot and Orange Soup in Mary Farrell’s brilliant Café Fresh cookbook (page 78), but mine doesn’t have any orange. This is for four portions – modify accordingly.

Vegetable Soup


  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated or finely chopped
  • 8 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 parsnips, peeled and chopped 4 sticks of celery
  • 750g vegetable stock
  • 3 sticks celery, chopped
  • A handful of fresh chopped parsley
  • About 3-4 tablespoons of fresh cream
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Heat the butter in a large saucepan. Add the onion and sauté for five minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for another two minutes.
  2. Add the vegetables to the onions and garlic, throw in a dash of sea salt, and allow to sweat for about three minutes, stirring.
  3. Add the stock and most of the parsley, cover and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer for about ten minutes or until vegetables are tender. Blend with the cream until smooth, but with a few chunks.

Anyone can make a version of vegetable soup. Rosemary, thyme, sage, and coriander work well in this recipe, as do other vegetables including peas, potato, celeriac, and turnip. Sometimes I’ll add split peas – available in large retailers, Asian and health food stores. Kept in the fridge, this soup will do for three days of lunches, dinners, or afternoon tea. Or freeze it and take it to work to heat in the microwave.

What’s your version of vegetable soup?

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