Vegetable soup


I made a raid on the fridge last night and seized my suspects. The remains of that celery cowering in the corner? Into the pan you go. That inch of courgette, those flabby carrots? Their fate was sealed. Even the large but softening beetroot was fair game.

I started by frying onions in 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil. I find if I start by frying, it commits me to cooking and I have to carry on.

But one was not enough. This soup had four onions, peeled and chopped. An onion-craving due I believe to the weather turning – after the spring sun, back to British chill. I swear these temperature changes play havoc with the immune system and thus my body was pleading for sustenance.

Who would have thought that the miserable occupants of my fridge plus the onions could help? But they did.

I amused myself by cutting the vegetables as thinly as possible, inspired by browsing through a copy of a recipe book by Boy George and his macrobiotic cook in the Luscious Organic shop in London last Friday.

I peeled everything because although the veg were organic and thus pesticide-free, they looked in need of a beauty peel.

Cooking is so dramatic. Look at the mess I made with the peelings. But aren’t they beautiful? Some naturally interlaced with each other too…


I was entranced by my vegetable peelings but life is tough and into the compost bin they went.

Meanwhile the mound of veg in my pan (with lid) was stewing away. I gave them a stir every now and then.

Then I added water – about 500 mls – and left the concoction to slowly simmer with the lid on.

I could have added salt to flavour but I had a brain wave. Due to an enduring macrobiotic flirtation, I had some miso in the fridge (it keeps for ages).

Miso is a friend, providing flavour, health and richness just from fermented plants such as soya beans or brown rice or barley.

I squeezed about two tablespoons of the miso into a cup, added some hot water and mixed it to a thin paste, which I added to the soup.

For garnish, I added a handful of nettles I had picked on our walk yesterday, and served the soup with fresh organic bread. It had taken a pleasant half-an-hour to produce from virtually nothing and it was delicious.

I swear I heard my immune system whisper “thank you”.

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6 responses to “Vegetable soup

  1. You mean you compost fresh beetroot peelings? Ouch, a total sin in our house, with 2 wee girls who just love all food pink!

    The perfect organic-post-waste food colouring is easily made from beetroot peelings. Handy in our house, as along with all-food-pink, the wee ‘uns also love beetroot. We’re currently living on last year’s beetroot in pickled form, but only about 3-4 weeks before the fresh babies pop their necks out of the ground, ready to be munched and crunched πŸ™‚

    Simply make sure you wash off any obvious dirt from the beet before peeling & boil up the peelings in water (and if you add a handful of lavender soaked in a teensy bit of vodka you get a natural preservative!). When the water looks like a deep merlot, strain off the lavender & peelings. I then reduce the liquor until as thick as a red wine reduction. We normally make ours on the Aga, so boil the kettle, have a cup of tea & use the water for hubby’s tea on the boiling plate. Commiserate with hubby, but explain his tea has gone to a better place πŸ˜‰

    You can bottle the cooled liquid, with a top of olive oil, which is easily soaked off with a dry muslin, or kitchen roll if you must, when you want to use it. For ease of use, I normally freeze it, a couple of teaspoons per ice cube block.

    Magic, free, and totally natural pink food colouring – use in cakes, icing, mashed potato, even spanish omlettes (which is our staple left-overs recipe!).

    Tips before breakfast? What am I thinking!?


  2. Oh, and I nearly forgot … add cooled colouring to a light mayonnaise made with an egg yolk & a light carrier oil (wheatgerm, grapefruit seed etc.) and whisk to make a pink mayonnaise ….

    Magic conditioner for dark or red hair to bring rich red highlights & nourish the hair.

    (onion skins do the same for fair hair / yellow food, or if the beetroot colour is too pink, mix the onion & beetroot colour together for a more red / burnt orange colour).

    It won’t totally colour your hair, and does wash out after a few washes, depending on hair type. But as the sun gets brighter, having some interesting tints and tinges to your hair to sparkle in the spring-light doesn’t have to mean yucky chemical based potions, or dealing with the utter mess of henna.

    Oh, and I take absolutely no responsibility for any ridiculous hair colours arising as the result of previous chemical treatments! If you have bleached your hair, beetroot WILL make it bright pink. A rather fabulous bright pink, but bright pink none-the-less.

    Seriously, breakfast now.


  3. This looks absolutely delicious. Everything on your site does! How on earth do you just go through your refrigerator picking out random ingredients? I would end up with a disaster, I know it. I kept waiting for a recipe, but realized “Oh, she just threw it together. Interesting.” Love your blog!


  4. You got me…soup is great….its comforting warming and almost as good a ‘feel good’ feeling as a cuddle … but beetroot soup…especially freshly picked beetroot soup is bliss ……I don’t bother to peel them before I cook them because its just so much fun to squeeze them out of their skins (? yeah it is you get magenta fingers) it keeps its goodness and most of the colour if you boil them in their skins…..
    We grow a variety of different beets at ‘Castle Farm’ ..yellow, white and .even stripey ones.. they are a quintessential British root veg and oh so versatile…you can use the leaves as steamed greens too, or add a few tender leaves to salad as they are sweet, colourful and work well to balance the more bitter tastes of chicory and baby leaf chard. They really look wonderful topped with a peppery nasturtium or courgette flower and drizzled with balsamic vinegar……but there I go again off on the visuals ….. erm your peelings… what school would you call those? Cezannne or Heronimus ‘Borsch’ ? lol


  5. Becca, thanks. Beetroot as hair dye or conditioner for red hair – this makes complete sense. We have got a great piece about hair dying in the next Spark…

    My instinct is not to peel organic beets so thanks for vindicating that, Lynne. Love hearing about the organic vegetables you are growing on the smallholding at Castle Farm. I have stir-fried beet leaves but the idea of that salad sounds grand. As for me artistic influences, I thought maybe a smattering of Jackson ‘pollack’ ?!

    Marie, thanks – very encouraging. As for the remains-of-the-fridge-soup, the best way to see if it works is to try it. I look forward to hearing the results of your experiment!


  6. I love the picture – and yes yes yes to frying commits you to carrying on!


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