Leftover veggie soup with crispy kale

Leftovers soup.png

Hands up if you leave vegetables in your fridge a little bit too long?
Confession: me too.
Those odd bits of discarded half-a-veg will eventually just make it to the bin, which let’s face it, isn’t ideal.
The good news is it is soup season and I have a foolproof recipe for turning most veg into a tasty soup.
If you add enough flavour, those veg can create something warming and nutritious that’s totally good enough for office lunches. Did I mention you’ll also save a £££s too? (No waste plus no need to buy lunch for a while, it all adds up.)
Here are the ins and outs:

The flavour
Ginger, turmeric, cinnamon and cumin are my go tos for jazzing up discarded veg. The combination just works.
Pungent turmeric with warming ginger, sweet cinnamon and nutty cumin hit various contrasting flavour profiles that definitely get the thumbs up. Plus, they are also beneficial:
- turmeric - all of the internet is buzzing about it, it’s pretty much a general cure-all if you believe the hype but is especially good for inflammation. Think joint aches and pains, muscle ache, that type of thing. Find it raw in most supermarkets or middle eastern stores.
- ginger - contains lots of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds
- cinnamon - great for blood sugar control
- cumin - contains antibacterial compounds

The veg
I did say anything goes but there are a few exceptions.
Brassicas such as kale, broccoli, spring greens and brussel sprouts are better roasted than made into soup. They are bitter, which will more than likely take over the flavour of the soup.
All the root veg are a good idea, as are pumpkins, squash, butternut squash, leafy greens (even if they are shrivelled up), mushrooms, swede etc etc.

Items to add
A protein is always a great idea if you want to stay fuller for longer. Beans, chickpeas, lentils or already cooked meat can be stirred in and heated through after the soup has been blended.
Additional flavour in the form of a topping can upgrade a boring soup to a restaurant-worthy one. I used toasted seeds (by Munchy Seeds), crispy kale and a tahini sauce to jazz up the flavour. A bit of shop-bought or home-made pesto drizzled on top and some crushed roasted nuts will have the same effect.

The recipe
Here is what my leftover veggie soup contained:
1” piece of turmeric root, sliced (use 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric if you can’t find it)
1” piece of ginger, peeled & sliced
1 teaspoon each of cinnamon & cumin seeds
1 leek, sliced (ideal replacements include onion or a stick of celery)
600g of veg made up of cubed butternut squash, thinly sliced fennel & grated golden beetroot
900ml vegetable stock
sea salt and black pepper to season
butter or rapeseed oil to cook

For the tahini sauce
1 large tablespoon of tahini
juice of a lemon
a pinch of sea salt

For the crispy kale:
enough torn kale (just the leaf, not the stem) to fit a baking tray
rapeseed oil
sea salt and black pepper

To make the soup, put a large saucepan on low-medium heat, add the oil or butter, the leek or onion, put a lid on the pan and allow it to cook for about 5 minutes until the leek has softened.
Take the lid off the pan, increase the temperature slightly to medium, add the ginger, turmeric, cumin and cinnamon, season well with sea salt and black pepper and cook for a further 2 minutes.
Stir in vegetables, season again with sea salt and black pepper put the lid back on the pan and cook for 5 minutes.
Pour in enough stock to just cover the veg (I used 900ml), bring it to boil, reduce the heat to low, put the lid back on the pan and cook for 10-15 minutes until the veg are all tender. If you are using greens such as spinach, wait until the last couple of minutes of cooking time to add it.
Transfer the soup to a blender and blend until smooth.
Taste the soup and add more sea salt and black pepper if needed.
Put the soup back on the heat (pour it back into the saucepan obviously, most blenders don’t do well on a hob), stir in beans, lentils or precooked meat and heat gently for a couple of minutes.
It is now ready.

To make the crispy kale, preheat the oven to 200 degrees C, lay the kale on a baking sheet, drizzle with rapeseed oil, season with salt and pepper and give it a good rub. This latter step will help to coat the kale in oil evenly and therefore assist with achieving optimum crispiness.
Cook in the oven for 5-10 minutes. Smaller pieces will cook quickly so keep checking and remove those that have crisped up to save them from burning. Lay on some kitchen paper to get rid of any excess oil.

To make the tahini, put all of the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until pale and creamy. If it’s too thick, add a small amount of water, or if it’s too thin then add some more tahini. It should be the consistency of soured cream.

To serve, ladle some soup into a bowl, top with crispy kale and drizzle over some tahini.