Potato, leek and mushroom ‘gratin’

Food waste is big news. And so it should be. It’s estimated that 18 million tonnes of food ends up in landfill every year in the UK alone. Globally the figure is a mind-numbingly huge 1.6bn tonnes, almost a third of what’s produced. At a time when food poverty still affects one in nine people, that just seems wrong.

And as the UK government formally declares a climate crisis, food waste comes high on the agenda of things we can do to make a different. Climate scientists state that reducing food waste is the third most impactful thing we can do (eating a plant-based diet is top of the list!). Which is good news. And there are some great initiatives going on that help get unused food to those who need it (like Fareshare) and even apps that enable you to find someone local who wants your unwanted food (like Olio). Continue reading “Potato, leek and mushroom ‘gratin’”

Let us eat soup!

On to the second to last day of my week long veg box challenge, and much of the gorgeous organic produce has been used. We have plenty of leftovers from both Saturday night’s squash curry and the pie and mash from Sunday night, so dinner is sorted.

So what to cook on Monday? The one item mainly untouched is the green batavia lettuce. It’s not that we don’t like lettuce, far from it, but I have to say I prefer warm, comforting foods at this time of year rather than cold, crisp dishes. So there’s only one thing to do with it – make soup!

When chatting with my mum about what I was going to make, she was more than a little unimpressed! But lettuce soup is actually really tasty as well as healthy. Known in my house as ‘sludge soup’ due to its rather pond-like hue, it’s packed full of nutrients like vitamins A and B complex, calcium and iron, and a whole range of phytonutrients that help support the body. As lettuce has a high water content, the soup doesn’t need much fluid added to the pot, keeping the nutrients readily available.

The other important thing about making lettuce soup is that it reduces food waste – lettuce is top of the league when it comes to fresh food items thrown away each week. I’ve always tried not to waste food, but ever since Hugh’s War on Waste recently, I’ve really made a concerted effort to use everything up, which is one reason why a veg box can be such a good idea, as you base your meals for the week around the box and add in as necessary, rather than just buy random items and see what works.

So why not try this soup if you have a desolate lettuce hanging around? Open head, leafy ones like this gorgeous green batavia, romaine or little gem lettuces all work well. I’ve not tried it with lollo rosso, and I don’t think an iceberg would be quite right (although can’t remember the last time I bought one). It’s so green, you just know it’s good for you!

Lettuce soup
1 onion, diced
1 medium potato, peeled and diced
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 large lettuce, washed well and chopped
a handful of chard leaves, chopped
500ml vegetable stock
salt and pepper
Heat a glug of olive oil in the bottom of a large saucepan and sauté the onion and potato for 5 minutes on a low heat with the lid on until soft. Add the garlic and cook for another couple of minutes. Stir in enough vegetable stock to cover the vegetables and simmer for 10 minutes or so until the potato is cooked and soft. Add the lettuce and chard leaves. Pour in some more vegetable stock, but don’t fully cover the leaves as remember they will wilt and add more fluid to the pan, potentially making your soup too watery. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, pop on the lid and simmer for 5 minutes until the leaves have fully wilted. Leave to cool for a couple of minutes, then blend until smooth, adding more stock if needed.
Serve with a squeeze of lemon juice (to help with iron absorption) and a swirl of dairy free yoghurt or cream. Enjoy!