Waste Less: Vegetable Soup Without A Recipe

Soup is a very frugal and flavorful way to clean out the refrigerator and does not have to be complicated. Learn to make vegetable soup without a recipe.

How To Make Soup to Waste Less and Share More // www.WithTheGrains.com

How To Make Soup to Waste Less and Share More // www.WithTheGrains.com

The Personal Stuff:

When it comes to positive thinking and manifesting, there are a lot of studies affirming the power of the mind. There’s a catch though. Sometimes our positive thinking give us a false sense of accomplishment. Merely setting an intention to volunteer fulfills the part of a person that wants to make a positive impact on the world.

It comes down to thinking versus doing. (Here’s an article with more on that psychology.) In other words, a lot of people angrily posting on Facebook feel like they’re actually doing something and making a change, when in reality, they’re probably preaching to the choir, or worse, spreading a lot of hopelessness. 

I’m as guilty as the next person, so I started paying more attention to the doers. The doers don’t post articles. They post their actions. The doers don’t make lists about how they will help someday. They find ways to help today.  

Sandra is a doer. 

I introduced Sandra Villarroel in my recent brunch post. Her personal story is incredibly inspiring, and now she’s on a quest to restore dignity to the men and women seeking asylum in the United States through photojournalism, donations and helping asylum seekers locally. 

Sandra doesn’t just talk about problems. She works to fix them. 

Sandra recently used social media to share how she was helping a local woman, whom she called Claudia. The story put the reality of immigration and the struggles into context. The context is not about being a Republican or a Democrat. It’s about contributing to oppression or compassion. It’s about seeing why a woman would flee her country, why she would give up everything for the good of her children. 

My own childhood had its fair share of hardships, but all of them still seemed comfortable in comparison to Claudia’s story, and her situation more comfortable than those living in tent encampments at the border. We have pushed humans out of our sight, out of our minds and pretended they were just numbers and policy problems. 

Blue and red teams, politics, and policy can make the issue of immigration seem insurmountable. Sandra always brings it back to humans, to women with stories, to daily ways we can help, and there was a way I could help. 

I work as a commercial food and prop stylist, and an aspect of the job which leaves me with a lot of guilt is the excess waste the job creates. I’ve tried to mitigate the waste through composting, distributing the food to coworkers or trying to cook my way through leftovers, but I never seem to salvage it all. I’ve found excuses for not finding other ways to avoid waste or set good intentions to figure something out for the next time (thinking vs doing). 

Sandra, by example, inspired me to cut through my excuses.

She facilitated a donation to Claudia, as well as a local shelter. Both actions required very little extra effort but made a big impact. In addition to wasting less on shoots, I’ve been making more conscious efforts to be more sustainable at home.

Food styling requires buying excess to account for finding the most photogenic food, for photo fails and do-overs, for a change of direction, etc. A recent shoot left me with a lot of vegetables and aromatics. I couldn’t possibly cook my way through them, so my solution was to make soup. 

The leftovers made such a HUGE pot of soup. I froze several jars (which are proving comforting and resourceful in the times of the Corona quarantine), but there was more than my freezer could hold. I packaged up a big container, bought some alphabet pasta, bread and cheese and sent it to Claudia via Sandra, hoping that it would alleviate one of her many burdens. 

I don’t share this to pat myself on the back.

I share this because Sandra has always encouraged her volunteers to share their actions, so it will inspire others. My hope is that I will better join the ranks of the doers and inspire you to do the same. Then we can keep inspiring each other and become a very positive feedback loop. 

How To Make Soup to Waste Less and Share More // www.WithTheGrains.com

Just the Food Stuff

Soup is a very frugal way to clean out the refrigerator, so you waste less food, eat more home-cooked meals and can even alleviate some cooking burdens down the line if you freeze the excess. Soup does not have to be complicated. 

How To Make Vegetable Soup Without a Recipe:

Start with a Healthy Fat
Use a high-heat oil like avocado oil, butter or ghee. Let the butter or ghee melt if using. I like to add salt & pepper at this stage too because it’s easier to see the quantity if you’re using a grinder. 

Add the Alliums 
Use anything from this family of plants that includes onions, leeks, garlic, etc. Use one or a combination. Sweat the alliums, which means cook them until they are translucent and softened, adding more oil or a little bit of water if they start to burn. 

Add Your Vegetables
Add the heartier vegetables first like carrots or potatoes, since they’ll take longer to cook. Add more “fragile” vegetables at the very end. 

Add Liquid
Liquid could be water, depending on how many flavorful ingredients you are using, or a low-sodium broth option. For a curry, the liquid could be coconut milk. 

Add Aromatics
Add herbs. The fresher the better, but dried will suffice. Think rosemary, thyme, a bay leaf or a mix like Herbs de Provence. For a curry, think about cinnamon and chili peppers or turmeric and ginger. 

Boil and Simmer
Bring everything to a boil, then lower to a simmer, cover, and let the flavors go to work. Cook the soup until the vegetables reach the desired texture. 

Last Additions and Puree (optional)
You could add a can of fire roasted tomatoes or less hearty vegetables like fresh tomatoes or peas, since they don’t need to cook long. If you want a creamy soup, here’s your chance. 

Season to Taste
Go with the basics like salt and pepper. For something extra, add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice for a bit of acid. 

Garnish and Enjoy
Ladle the soup into bowls, garnish with fresh herbs, a dollop of crème fraîche or parmesan, and enjoy! 

How To Make Soup to Waste Less and Share More // www.WithTheGrains.com

How To Make Soup to Waste Less and Share More // www.WithTheGrains.com

Curious What I Put In My Soup?

I really cleaned out the fridge with this pot of vegetable soup. The goal was to use anything I thought I wouldn’t be able to cook in the coming week, or anything that was starting to soften. The final yield was also far greater than what I show in the photos, so if you follow this list, you better have a BIG pot. 

  • 2 bunches of green onions, sliced
  • 2 leeks, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 hearts of celery, chopped
  • 2 bulbs of fennel, chopped
  • 9 large carrots, chopped
  • lots of radishes
  • 5 parsnips, chopped
  • 8 small sweet peppers
  • 6 tomatoes-on-the-vine
  • 2 whole lemons
  • 1 can of fire-roasted tomatoes
  • sprig of oregano
  • salt & pepper

How To Make Soup to Waste Less and Share More // www.WithTheGrains.com

How To Make Soup to Waste Less and Share More // www.WithTheGrains.com

How To Make Soup to Waste Less and Share More // www.WithTheGrains.com

How To Make Soup to Waste Less and Share More // www.WithTheGrains.com

How To Make Soup to Waste Less and Share More // www.WithTheGrains.com

How To Make Soup to Waste Less and Share More // www.WithTheGrains.com

How To Make Soup to Waste Less and Share More // www.WithTheGrains.com

How To Make Soup to Waste Less and Share More // www.WithTheGrains.com

Just the Julep Stuff:

How To Make Soup to Waste Less and Share More // www.WithTheGrains.com

Julep would like to suggest you skip the bone broth trend, and save the marrow bones for her. 

Be well, friends. 

This Post Has 2 Comments

    1. Happy to hear that. It very much feels like an ode to the way my mom and my grandmother cooked.

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