One thing that really irks me is wasting food. You know, that head of broccoli that ends up in the back of the fridge, forgotten, until about a week later when the florets have turned brown and the stems, droopy. I must admit—it has happened in my house.

I’ve tried meal planning, shopping on a daily basis, shopping on a weekly basis, and even using all fresh ingredients in my fridge before buying something new. But there’s always that one piece of fruit that goes bad or the pepper that gets mushy before I’m able to cut it up. And there’s no excuse—with the price of food being as high as it is and the amount of people that go hungry each day—there’s truly no excuse for having to throw anything away.

Right before the holidays, my kids and I got the flu. We had to cancel the family party that we had planned on hosting, and pack for our holiday trip that was just a few short days away. Thankfully, I hadn’t shopped for the entire party menu, but the food I did buy had to be eaten or stored somehow. We ate most of it, but the evening before we left for the trip, I looked through the fridge and found one leek, one-third bag of carrots, and a pint and a half of cherry tomatoes. I decided to freeze them, so I gave each vegetable a quick rinse, chopped the leeks and carrots, and put them all into one quart-size freezer bag.

Earlier this evening, when I was looking for something to make for dinner, I remembered that bag of frozen vegetables. In preparation for the Soup Cleanse, I decided to make a nice warm pot of soup. So, olive oil went into a deep pot, followed by the bag—yes, the entire bag—of frozen veggies. It was a deep pot, so I didn’t worry too much about the oil splashing. But definitely be aware of this in your own kitchen. I let the veggies sauté until the tomatoes began to pop, about 10 minutes, and then gave everything a good smashing with a wooden spoon. Then in went a can of cannellini beans and about 10 cups of water. I seasoned the soup with salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons of organic brown rice miso paste. That was it! Simple. I decided to puree the soup for just a few seconds to break up some of the large chunks, but feel free to skip this step if you prefer a heartier soup. Even better than it being delicious was the fact that it was ready in just a few minutes, and nothing—yes nothing—was wasted.

So, whether or not you are joining us on this Soup Cleanse journey, remember that cooking doesn’t have to be a long process. Think about the ingredients you already have on hand. What can you use? Chances are, there’s something in your fridge, freezer, or pantry that will give you a good shortcut. And soup is always a good way to use up leftovers—simply add leftover sautéed veggies, leftover rice or pasta, and even leftover chicken or fish into a pot of boiling broth or water. Chances are, if you enjoyed your dinner the night before, the leftover soup will be even tastier. Better yet—that lonely head of broccoli won’t get pushed to the back of the fridge. So sit back and enjoy your warm bowl of soup while you reflect on the extra time you gained by not having to create a new meal. Aah. Dinner served!


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