If you have committed to eating healthy, nutrient-dense food, you may find yourself shopping for vegetables more often or spending more time in your vegetable garden. It is easier to pick your produce from displays in the grocery store, but the downside is that most grocery-store fruits and vegetables are all but dead before they get to your table. The garden option takes more time and effort, but the harvest will be healthier, tastier, and provide some physical exercise. Farmer’s markets that sell local, in-season fruits and vegetables are another option.
It helps to survey the contents of the fridge before shopping to make sure there is a place to put the bags of produce from market. This is also a good time to clean the fridge and take inventory so you don’t buy stuff you already have. Stick to your list to reduce the temptation to buy more than you can eat before foods expire. Collect almost-gone greens, herbs, potatoes with eyes, carrots that are sprouting, and anything else that still has food value, shove it all in a plastic bag for soup stock and refrigerate until you can include trimmings from fresh vegetables.
On shopping day, consider not only the perishable produce that you plan to eat in the next few days, but also try to stock the pantry and freezer with foods you use on a regular basis such as frozen fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, dry legumes, grains, etc. If you are on a tight budget and can’t afford to buy organic, just remember that it is better to buy non-organic produce than not buy any at all!
Head to the store early in the day, so you will have time to wash and chop your haul and set the soup pot simmering before you run out of steam. If you have enough energy, you can even prepare a vegetable soup to go with your fresh salad for supper.
Karen’s Green Soup
- 1 lb. green beans, fresh or frozen
- 3 small zucchini, sliced (about 6 cups chopped)
- 2 cups sliced celery
- 1 cup parsley, optional
- 1 pound spinach, or other greens, or a mixture
- onion and/or garlic, optional
- Salt and pepper to taste.
Put all ingredients in a large pot. Barely cover with vegetable broth. Season to taste with anything you like and cook until tender. Cool soup slightly and purée with an immersion blender or blend in small batches in a regular blender or food processor.
When serving, add extras like avocado, mushrooms, croutons, different spices, whatever, to give added texture or variety. Leftover brown rice makes a hearty addition too.
Use any greens you have on hand or use frozen spinach, kale, or even lettuce. Always keep green beans in the freezer, so when you have vegetables that need using up before they go bad, you can make a batch and freeze. Beans from the garden that are a bit past their prime (should have been picked yesterday) are good candidates for this recipe.
The soup is smooth and creamy and freezes well; but the texture might be watery when you thaw it if too much cooking broth or water is used.
This may not be the most elegant soup you have ever made, but it could well be the most nutritious.