Zero Waste Winter Vegetable Soup

Nothing is better than a bowl of hot soup on a cold winter day, would you agree? You’d be amazed what you can put together with what you’ve already got in your fridge and pantry, so why waste food by going out to get any extra special ingredients for something a little more complicated or time-consuming? This type of soup is so quick and easy, too. 

Let me tell you how it’s made: use what you’ve already got.

In my case, in the fridge, I had one carrot, a bit of spinach, and a couple cherry tomatoes that would have been on their way out if I waited another day to consume them. Just that alone, however, didn’t feel filling enough, so I looked in my pantry for something to bulk it up, like small pasta noodles or rice and that’s what I had. I actually had a very small amount of rice left and didn’t even use it all – remember, it expands quite a bit in water (and in your belly), so I added about 3 tablespoons- that’s it! Spices are up to you, but I’ll list the ones I used in the recipe instructions below. 

I love how the recipe is very #zerowaste, a common hashtag circling around these days, but it’s true- why waste food? Are we addicted to grocery store shopping? Are we so busy we can’t go to the grocery store more than once a week? I chalk these things up to boredom and lack of priorities, and believe me I have definitely been there. I would go to the grocery store just to have something to do. To look for novel things. That I didn’t need. I probably went more than the average person because I write about food, but nevertheless, I should have prioritized freshness of food and not wasting it, more than I did.

Here in Turkey, things don’t operate the same way. I go to the market two times per week to buy fresh produce, but it also goes bad rather quickly, so I don’t buy too much of it. That’s a good thing, hopefully indicating fewer or no pesticides, but also that I am way more careful about using up all the leafy greens and fresh fruits and vegetables I’ve bought in between market days; and if I don’t, then I don’t buy more of it at the next market day. 

I think things are changing in the U.S. for the better, as well. There are more outdoor markets in the Spring or Summer and in the winter there are indoor markets that can be utilized to buy a lot of greenhouse-grown produce. Check your Local Harvest website for markets near you. 

The complete recipe instructions and ingredients are below, and some of the ingredients you may want to get for this recipe are also listed here. Enjoy! 

Recipe: Zero Waste Winter Vegetable Soup

The point of this recipe is to use what you have so if you have anything similar to these ingredients, use them. If you have less or more of the ingredients, use those. The amount of water or broth added to the ingredients is totally dependent upon the amount of other ingredients you have, so adjust accordingly and always remember that the rice/pasta/tarhana expands when boiled. 



Sauté half of a small onion in olive oil, heated very gently. Next add the carrots and cook until the carrots are softened, mixing often so as not to burn the onions. Add the tomatoes and cook until soft. 

Add the water and bring the pot to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, covered, for about 10-15 minutes. Add the rice or pasta or tarhana and continue to cook until the grains are soft. The time will vary depending upon which type of grains are used. 

Remove from heat and serve with grated Parmesan or a sprinkle of Turkish oregano or crushed red pepper, if desired. 


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