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! 

Start out by sautéing half of a small onion in olive oil, heated very gently.

Yields 6 cups

Zero Waste Winter Vegetable Soup

This is the type of recipe you can use as a foundation for putting together something similar, based on what you already have in your own fridge and pantry. It utilizes fresh produce that needs to be used up, without any particular exact measurements, so use these as a mere guideline. The important thing is to waste nothing - and making soup is the perfect way to do that.

5 minPrep Time

30 minCook Time

35 minTotal Time

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Recipe Image


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 large onion, finely diced
  • 1 carrot, roughly chopped however you like
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 6 cups water or vegetable stock
  • 3 tablespoons uncooked rice
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 2 cherry tomatoes
  • A few broccoli spears
  • Crushed red pepper flakes (optional)


  1. Using a large Dutch oven or similar pot, sauté the diced onion in gently heated olive oil. Sauté until the onions are translucent. Add the carrots and continue to cook until slightly softened, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste. Add the spices and water or stock. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Add the rice and cover the pot for about 10 minutes. Add the spinach, tomatoes and broccoli and cook for another 10 minutes. Remove from heat and serve. When serving, add red pepper flakes, if desired.

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