Saturday, 10 January 2015

Parsnip Soup & Chestnut Pesto

Not in a smug way, but one thing I pride myself on is not having much food waste at the end of the week.  I endeavour to pause before I put items in my shopping trolley and think through the mantra "will I use it, will I eat it, what can I make with it?" 

Inevitably, by the end of the week, there occasionally is a little something that is skirting on the edge of freshness and so I make it my mission to turn it into a gastro victory of some sort thus saving it from the waste bin and saving me from not wasting money.

I was pleased to see that Central England Co-operative are in partnership with WRAP for their 2014-2016 Love Food Hate Waste Campaign which nominates 10 cities around the UK (Birmingham being one of them), to focus on fighting food waste.  The campaign's aim is to help people to 'do one thing differently' - change kitchen habits and prevent food from being wasted and promote how easy it is to create dishes with leftovers in the fridge.

So here are a couple of ideas which I regularly practice, albeit using different ingredients each time.  I hope it will give some inspiration to minimise the food waste from your weekly shopping trip.



Those rocket salad leaves (or spinach) that don't quite make the salad bowl, before they get all watery in the bottom of the bag they come in, I rescue them and give them pesto overhaul.  Pairing the leaves up with cheese and nuts, add a little oil and you have an instant pesto sauce.  Perfect for smothering pasta or potatoes with. 

My recipe is a little vague in terms of ingredient quantities because it is all about what you have leftover and what you can put together.  But the key pesto building blocks are:  leaves/nuts/oil/cheese - so get what you can of these and experiment with different flavours, ingredients and quantity levels to suit you. 

Pesto Ingredients

Here is what worked for me and helped me to use up some Christmas roasted chestnuts.

Chestnut Pesto

Chestnut Pesto
Handful of Rocket Leaves (or Spinach)
Handful of Chestnuts
Rapeseed Oil
A Few Chunks of Cheese (I used Applewood Cheddar)

*Place all items into a food processor and blend until a paste. 
*Add more oil and re-blend if the pesto is too thick.


I buy a bag of parsnips to make a roast dinner with but never use them up entirely.  So if I don't get chance to use them up before they 'turn', I make them into a soup as it is easy to do and makes for a quick supper which could also be a lovely starter if you're having a dinner party.  It could even work as a starter for Burn's Night to cover off the obligatory 'Neep' factor if you're celebrating.

Parsnip Soup

500g (4-5) Parsnips
1 Onion (Chopped)
Oil for frying
550ml Hot Vegetable Stock
½ Nutmeg (Grated) or 1 tsp Ground Nutmeg
1 Star Anise
Salt & Pepper (season to taste)
50-100ml Double Cream (Dependent on preference for cream)
Optional: A spoonful of pesto (see recipe above for inspiration)

Nutmeg for Grating
Parsnips & Onion Ready to Use
Ingredients ready to be Cooked

*Fry the onion in oil in a saucepan until golden brown.
*Peel and chop the parsnips into 2cm chunks.
*Add the parsnip chunks  to the saucepan.
*Add the salt & pepper, nutmeg and the star anise.
*Add the vegetable stock and heat gently.
*Cook for about 15 minutes until the parsnip chunks are soft.
*Using a blender stick, blend all ingredients until smooth.
*Add the amount of cream required.
*Swirl the pesto in (if using).
*Serve with warm bread.

To find out more about the campaign, see: 

I was re-imbursed by Central England Co-operative to cover my expenses to complete the additional ingredient listing for the recipes.  This post was written honestly without bias and I was not required to produce a positive review of the products purchased.  For further details of my PR policy, please see the Press, PR & Food Writing page of this website. 


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