The “Waste-not-want-not” Soup

Serves: 4
Cost: ~€0.50 – €2
Preparation and cooking time: ~10 minutes
Calories: ~60 per serving

First off, before I forget, I must announce the winner of my abstract photo contest which I ran through March! Three people got the answer correct, and so with a bit of help from the number generator at I can reveal to you that the winner today, who correctly guessed that the photo was of my kettle – the whistle on the end of the spout to be precise, is Jean, from Delightful Repast. Congratulations Jean – I’ll be in touch shortly regarding your prize.

I’m now back from my travels to England. The journey home was, thankfully, hassle-free and we rocked up to our apartment at about 3pm. Five trips back and forth from the car later and everything was finally unpacked. As is always the way though I couldn’t relax then. No, there was shopping to be done, as the cupboards were bare, and the rental car had to be washed and fueled as I was due to take it back early the next day. Once that was all done then there was dinner to cook and laundry to put on but finally, finally, it was all done and I could sit down, crank out an espresso and relax!

As much as I enjoyed my holiday I usually use trips to England as an excuse to, pardon the pun, “go hog wild” with food… eating things in abundance which just don’t generally exist in France – pork pies for example – and while these things are delicious, they’re not good for the waistline. While I used to plough through such things with abandon in my youth, as one grows older and wiser it’s important to be a little bit more mindful. I gained some weight in England which has put a rather ugly peak in my otherwise nice downward trend of the last few months and I find myself craving light, easily-digestible, healthy meals which aren’t short on flavour right now.

Waste-not-want-not soup

I started making this really easy and quick soup a couple of weeks ago after a trip to the market yielded a great number of vegetables with wonderful greens – carrots, radishes, and kohlrabi to name but a few. Many people would normally discard the greens from such vegetables, or at most they might make stock out of them. I wanted to turn them into the main feature of this soup because their fabulously varied textures and appearances, and earthy, healthy flavours deserve to be fully appreciated.

I could call it the “trash soup”, since many of the ingredients here might find their way straight into the garbage, but that doesn’t sound nearly as appetising, so I’ll call this leafy delight a “waste-not-want-not” soup, since this really helps to reduce kitchen waste. For a bit of protein I try to add in some beans. The first time I made it I added marrowfat peas, which were really good. Any pea or bean would be great though as they give a wonderful texture. I think shredded pork or chicken might also be a fine addition for those die-hard carnivores amongst you. You can also add in some finely diced potato for some carbs, or simply serve with some scones, as I have here – the recipe for which I will post next time. The final touch of lemon juice adds a lovely zing to the stock and the end result is a soup which is deliciously light, ridiculously low on calories, and yet filling, satisfying, and richly flavoured

I hope you enjoy the rest of the post. I’ll be back next time with the scones but until then – have a nice week!

Waste-not-want-not Soup


The soup ingredients

  • ~2 litres of good Vegetable Stock
  • 1 large Onion, or some spring onion greens (see below)
  • The greens from various vegetables – I used the greens from a bunch of spring onions, leaves from a bunch of radishes, the tops of a bunch of carrots, several leaves of chard and a bunch of parsley. Spinach, kohlrabi greens, beetroot greens, and turnip greens also work well
  • ~300g  cooked Kidney Beans or other bean
  • 1 Lemon
  • 1tbsp Olive Oil


  1. Whether you’re using onion or spring onions, start by chopping them finely (spring onions) or peeling and dicing finely (regular onion). Heat the olive oil in a large soup pan and when hot add in the onion and sauté lightly for a minute or two until just starting to soften.
    Softening the onions
  2. Pour the stock into the pan with the onions and cover. Bring the stock to the boil and while it’s heating up thoroughly wash and roughly chop all the greens, removing any of the thickest, toughest stalks.
    Chopping the greens
  3. Once the stock is boiling add in the vegetable greens and beans and cover the pan once more. Bring the stock back to the boil and as soon as it hits the boiling point remove the pan from the heat – you don’t want to overcook the greens as they will lose their colour and flavour otherwise.
    Adding the greens to the stock
  4. Serve into bowls, serve with a good wedge of lemon and enjoy!
    Waste-not-want-not soup
    Waste-not-want-not soup


  1. says

    Definitely a better name choice, Charles 😉 And it does sound cute too.
    I also try not to waste any part of the food I buy (I must admit it’s not because of the ecology but either because some greens are simply excellent, e.g. celery leaves, or because I find it exciting to use and enjoy a part everyone else throws out!).
    This soup looks very unusual and tempting. Thanks for the inspiration and good luck with your return to controlled eating!
    PS I am not surprised you couldn’t resist pork pies. I have never had these, but they sound terrific.

    • says

      Thank you Sissi!

      Sadly the pork pie I had was *not* good. I bought them as an afterthought and it was just a mass-produced variety… not a real, hand-made one.

      When you have a real pork pie… it’s… incredible. The pastry is crisp and ever so slightly greasy, you bite into it and there’s a layer of jelly inside… meat stock and gelatin, and then a big piece of pork, delicately spiced. I should try and make them sometime and write about them. I think you’d go crazy for them 😀

      • says

        Charles, I have just looked up, at random, a pork pie recipe. It sounds quite elaborate (with the jelly), but totally worth the effort! I have instantly thought that you would love my Polish pâté/terrine because I saw that the pork pie contains both allspice and nutmeg, both typical Polish spices (I have once posted my mum’s pork simmered with allspice, I do it all the time) and the typical Polish terrine has lots of nutmeg. I have posted the poultry version, but it can be made with a mixture of beef and pork.

        • says

          Hi Sissi, it is quite an elaborate dish to be sure. I never knew until recently that the jelly was poured in through a hole in the top of the pie AFTER it was baked. I always thought it was a product of the cooking itself!

          If the terrine is anything like a pork pie I’d be all over it! Mmm, I’m starting to feel really hungry right now :p

  2. says

    I am the same when I go back to the UK. My must have treat foods include fish & chips, curry and as much Thai and Sushi as I can lay my hands on! Not that some of those thing aren’t unavailable here…just that they are not easily available or even very good when you do get them :( I always come back a few pounds heavier also! And craving vegetables!
    Your soup looks divinely simple and I bet it tastes fresh and virtuous. Not everything needs to be laden with meat or extras to make it taste great. Sometimes less is more…

    • says

      Hi Anneli, I’ve gone off fish and chips in recent years after a bad experience from a chip shop last time I was there. You know how you build it up in your mind? Then I tried this and it was dreadful. Cod full of bones, soggy, disgusting and not good.

      This trip, my father had some fish and chips in a pub one day and I was bowled over by how good they were. The chips were the best I’ve ever seen in my life – a crisp shell which shattered like glass when you bit into them!

  3. says

    I am glad your vacation went well Charles, even though the return is always so stressful. We like to come back at least one or a couple of days prior to having go back to work just to get everything caught up; we have friends (I think we talked about this when we met) who come back after midnight the night before they return to work! I would feel like I’m running after my life until I caught up.
    This soup is right up my alley, fresh, green, healthy it’s really just perfect! And I really love the beans. Although I’ve been to the UK only twice, I have felt bloated and heavy from the vast amount of delicious cheese and pastries consumed, so when you said easily digestible, I knew exactly what you meant! We were there when the £ was $2.40 (of course it was when we chose to vacation there in the 90’s) I resorted to buy prune juice for over 5£! That day I spent 15£ for the ingredients for chicken soup! We had the cutest cottage in Burton on the Water with a great kitchen. Wish I had seen this recipe, it wouldn’t have broken the bank quite as much as chicken soup did!

    • says

      Hi Eva – I remember us talking about that as well! I couldn’t do it. Not even one weekend is enough. I need to have at least one “weekday”, plus the weekend, so we usually come back on Thursday. It really helps me relax knowing that I’m still on vacation on the Friday and my colleagues are all working, muahaha!

      £15 for chicken soup? Goodness me – I think I’d have resorted to a veggie-alternative. Few carrots, few potatoes, couple of leeks, yummy!

      By the way – did you mean Burton-on-the-Wolds, or Bourton-on-the-Water? I’ve never been to Burton-on-the-Wolds, but Bourton-on-the-Water is a beautiful place. My father used to go there for his dentist appointments (2 hours drive just for a dentist… I guess he liked the guy!) and it’s a wonderful little town!

  4. Charlie says


    You made me laugh!

    You called it trash soup.

    My deceased DH always called my soup ‘garbage soup’ because what was leftover (not from the plates) from supper (or other meals) made it’s way into my soup pot.
    It was a never ending pot of soup.

    It got fairly low at times but was always built up.

    He used to say I should patent it, but there was never any set ingredients ……… just leftovers.

    This soup of yours makes me want some. It looks really delicious!

    How I wish I could have made the trip to England with you!

    Have a Joyful Day :~D

    • says

      Hi Charlie – I hope you’re well! I like the sound of your “garbage soup”… sometimes the best, most comforting, hearty dishes (not to mention some of the fondest memories) are borne out of the simplest, or most frugal, of ingredients! :)

      Have a great week!

  5. says

    Holidays are for going hog wild and putting on weight. I would do the same thing if I made a trip back home.
    You have inspired me to old onto the greens the next time, I always have good intentions with the greens I chop off, but they never get used.
    So, when you come back to France from England, are you happy to be home or do you miss “home”?


    • says

      Hi Nazneen – good question. It’s bittersweet I think… of course I miss my family when I return to France, but here is where my home is. All I know and what is familiar to me. It’s always nice to sleep in one’s own bed, right? There’s a good expression in Swedish which translates to “away is good, but home is best” :)… I couldn’t agree more!

  6. says

    I would NOT call it by any of those scurrilous names. It sounds like a great soup … healthy and tasty and so colourful. I think you were referring to this soup when you commented on the kale soup that I made a while back. It does sound very similar though I used diced tomatoes and some tomato paste in mine which I really recommend. :)

    I have some leeks in the fridge I want to use to make a big pot of vegetable stock (I’ve never made one so I’m curious what makes a good base recipe). You should know that I’m not a big vegetable buyer so there are rarely many lurking in my veggie crisper other than carrots and celery.

    By the way, did you have some pork scratchings or cracklings when you went home? Inquiring (nosy) minds want to know.

    • says

      Hi A_ – exactly… this is the very same soup, and when you wrote about yours you actually made me hanker for it and so I decided that the stuff was worthy of a remake and its own post!

      I did have a (little!) bag of pork scratchings. They sell them only in tiny bags alas because they’re not the healthiest of things, and I did limit myself to one bag only because I would have returned looking like one giant pork rind otherwise, haha!

      I posted a vegetable stock recipe last year, just after I returned from Sweden. For mine I tend to use whatever I have on hand. I freeze tops, ends and peel from carrots, broccoli, cabbage, courgette and so forth and then boil it all up with an onion. The result is very good!

      I don’t think I’d dedicate whole leeks to it. As my stocks are usually made out of what most would consider garbage I’d personally find it wasteful to use a “complete” vegetable in it, though everyone has different beliefs, and ultimately if you have the veg sitting there and you have no plans for it, then why not? Lest it end up in the garbage after all!

      Let me know how it goes :)

  7. says

    Welcome home! Your soup sounds very healthy and will get you back on your downward weight trend. By the way, I never heard to having to wash a rental car before it is returned…is that a particular company’s policy?

    • says

      Thanks Karen :)
      The company I rented from was Europcar. They didn’t “explicitly” say it has to be washed, but there was a sticker in the window, and the same text printed on my rental agreement, stating something to the effect of “you may be liable to extra charges if you return the car in a very dirty state”. Of course, they’re probably thinking “caked in mud and filled with takeaway food boxes” or something, but it was a long drive, the car was pretty dirty on the exterior, and I’d been doing a lot of walking in dry dusty and muddy places in the UK so the interior was quite dirty as well. The trip had already been pricey enough so I didn’t want to take any chances.

  8. says

    Oh, when you said 10 trips up and down to unpack the car…that reminded me of when we lived in a three flat after Mr. N was born. I remember the trips up and down so well. What I always found the most challenging was how to manage Mr. N by myself with those million trips. Glad we have a garage now. I’m glad your trip home was uneventful. That is always a bonus. And you sound just like me when I get home from a trip. I don’t sit down until everything is unpacked, put away, groceries are picked up and everything is back in order. It’s like I can’t start my home life again until I feel like the vacation is put away. But I had to laugh…an espresso to relax?! Oh that would keep me up all night! I’ll have a glass of wine instead. And this soup looks like it would be perfect for me. I need to get off this terrible carb kick I’m on. :)

    • says

      Hi Kristy – I’m so terrible like that. I remember when we moved to our current apartment. I just could not relax. I was up until 4am shoving furniture into position and ramming stuff into drawers. Finally everything was put away (well, I had the illusion of it being done because I’d shoved stuff deep into cupboards and not actually organised anything, lol) and I felt so good. Damn I slept well that night 😀

  9. says

    Those trips from the car to your apartment sound like they could take off those pounds the British lumped you with. It’s really not a holiday if you don’t do some over-indulging. The soup looks like a good cleanse xx

  10. says

    Haha you are funny. This is such a beautiful soup to call it “garbage”! I’d love to have this soup – so simple, clean, and nutritious! Welcome home Charles. I always need another vacation after vacation, especially with children… :)

    • says

      Hi Nami – couldn’t agree more! I always like to come home a few days before I’m due to start work though… I need the time to, of course, get chores down around the house, but also just to sit and reflect… mentally unwind!

    • says

      Indeed – congratulations Jean (I hope you received the voucher by email now!). I’m surprised people got it right… I would never guess it!

  11. says

    Welcome home! Sounds like you had a great trip, but then had to deal with the typical “back home chores”. I love vacations, but you’re right – coming home is a lot of work. Love the “waste-not-want-not” soup. And you’re right, a lot of these green would be thrown in the compost. Love that you saved them to make this soup. How very clever!

    • says

      Thanks MJ – chores at home are never fun, but it’s almost nice to get back into the “routine” again :).

      I used radish greens for the first time in this soup. Did you try them before? They’re really tasty!

  12. says

    Oh no, I much prefer waste-not-want-not to trash soup myself. This is a leafy delight indeed and the pictures are just beautiful Charles – isn’t the contrast of green and burgundy gorgeous? I don’t know why but I have this insuppressible desire to puree this soup though it’s entirely perfect in it’s own right (and besides, it would do away with that lovely contrast ;-)).

    Glad you had a great holiday Charles – even sans pork pie 😉 – you know, that’s the one downside of having a cottage too – it’s always packing and unpacking (every weekend!) and hauling laundry, garbage, and loads of stuff from the car… ah well, still worth it, right? Cheers.

    • says

      Hi Kelly – I don’t know, I think puréeing it might ruin it. It’s a very thin stock, and as it’s literally just leaves you may end up with something that looks like pond-water. I’m a huge fan of blitzing soups (much to my wife’s dismay) but I think this one is definite;y at its best with the full leafy goodness shining through :).

      Boy oh boy, I can’t imagine how difficult it must be having a cottage. How often do you guys get out there? That sounds like a lot of packing :D. You should duplicate all your possessions and then all you’d need to take is your wallet and cellphone and you’d never need to pack another thing again :D.

    • says

      Hi Dedy, no, it’s not the same. Chard is much bigger and comes in a number of different varieties. The flavour is quite different too!

  13. says

    Ha ha, trash soup sounds so funny. Glad to hear you’ve had a nice holiday, I also go straight indulging into local delicacies once home, they taste better there :)

  14. says

    you know me, i NEVER waste food. this is my kind of soup, any day. def good for a spring detox kind of dinner too 😉

    pity about the pork pie not being good. I’ve had the chance to get hold of some really gorgeous ones at the farmer’s amrket, and I love them. I used to have issues with it being cold maybe I’m just being asian but I’m a bit less keen on a cold filling inside a pie, that said, pork pies (good ones) really changed my mind.

    I’ve goen complketely off topic now! sorry.

    • says

      Oh, I’m so jealous. I haven’t had a good pork pie now in so long, although it’s good motivation to make them myself, hehe!

      I think Brits are the masters of cold pies! Chicken and mushroom slices, cornish pasties, pork pies… I much prefer them cold I must say!

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