November 28, 2016 — Dairy
‘A brilliant recipe for when you’re wondering what to do with the last of your veg at the end of the week. and this is what dad is great at… turning those loose ends into a delicious warming dish. So no need to throw those moulding veg in the bin (like I probably would but now)… turn them into a soup!’
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Two small heads of broccoli (especially if they are going yellow) – or 1 head broccoli and 2 courgettes.
1 onion, or 2 shallots
1 or 2 sticks of celery
1 large clove garlic
500ml hot chicken or vegetable stock or water with half a stock cube
250-500ml hot water
200ml creme fraiche
150g – 200g blue cheese – crumbly Stilton is good but can be any type
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Don’t waste food – everybody can manage it better…
In a crowded train on the way home I was scanning my cramped environment when I noticed in a fellow commuter’s Evening Standard a headline containing the word ‘broccoli’. It’s not everyday that broccoli hits the headlines:
‘Broccoli going yellow? Stick it in a soup’
The article was by Simon Rogan, a two-starred Michelin Chef who has joined the Evening Standard’s campaign against food waste in the capital. Simon was a good catch for an article on the subject; his high-end restaurants waste very little food. This prudent approach to cooking might be a natural outcome of working to tight profit margins, but in fact, Simon says it’s a common characteristic among most quality restaurants, where ‘nose-to-tail’ and ‘all-parts-of-a-plant’ cooking are prerequisite skills for an aspiring chef. So we should not blame chefs for food waste.
The chief culprits are the supermarkets, where food is wasted at source because it is assumed that customers will only buy food that is presented without imperfections. Further down the chain there will be vast wastage as food passes its ‘sell-by’ date. The thought that food is either left to rot, put into landfill or turned to bio fuel on such a grand scale is hard to reconcile. Pret a Manger says that 88% of their unsold sandwiches are donated to charities – but how can we know how much food is actually wasted in the industry? Unfortunately, most of this data is unavailable. Glancing through the campaign articles we can see why, food waste is a highly complex, sensitive and political issue.
The Evening Standard’s campaign is therefore a welcome and useful way to help raise awareness and explore ways that we can fight the problem. A good starting point is to take responsibility for our own food management. I am a stickler for good food management, but despite my best efforts, I will often find myself with the odd yellowing broccoli head. Simon is right. I might have thrown it out in the past, but for this recipe I took his advice and stuck it in a soup. It was delicious.
I know my boys can be very fastidious when it comes to food: Bit of mold on the cheese or bread? Chuck it in the bin. Carrots going limp and broccoli going yellow? In the bin. (See my story above!) So here’s a recipe that’s both an essential classic and a way to help your food management.
Start with aromatics: Chop onions or shallots and celery into a fine dice. Smash and chop or grate on large clove of garlic. Add a good pinch of salt. Add a little vegetable, or olive oil and a small knob of butter. Saute all these in a large pan – a wok would be good – on a medium high heat for 5 minutes.
Add broccoli: First remove any bits that have gone off or moldy (rather than are going yellow). Trim the stalk of its tough outer layer. Separate the stalks from the florets and chop the stalks and add to the saute of aromatics above. Keep the florets to one side. Continue the saute with the broccoli for 5 minutes.
Add 500ml hot stock or water and 250ml hot water: Cook for 5 minutes. Then add the florets. Add a few gratings black pepper. Cook for further 5 – 10 minutes.
Blend: Pour into a warmed blender jar and blitz – (use towel over jar). Pour back into the pan and heat gently. Adjust for seasoning.
Finish the soup: Check the thickness if too thick add more water. Add 100ml creme fraiche. Mix and add small pieces of blue cheese. Taste and adjust the seasoning – a squeeze of lemon will helps things along. Garnish with a swirl of creme fraiche (thin with a little milk if necessary) and some chopped fresh herbs. I like a final grating of black pepper. Serve with bread.
Variations: Use courgettes for one of the broccoli or left over greens of any description. Add other herbs into the cooking soup – thyme, chives, tarragon, parsley, a little mint – bay of course (remove before blitzing). Left over potatoes can be added and will help thicken the soup. Use leeks or carrots too at the saute stage (can also be left overs).
A perfect winter warmer – Cassoulet!
Try Dad’s loaded low-fat salsa quesadillas with The Laughing Cow Lightest x8 cheese.
An excellent way to turn a popular Italian slow food standard into an easy and quicker family classic.
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