One of the biggest waste producing areas in a household can be the kitchen. Our food is notoriously packaged in disposable containers, we open cans and throw away plastic wrap with every meal.
In order to reduce how much waste is produced in your home, consider how much garbage you generate per meal. Cooking fresh food also is also for the purpose of eating healthy and reducing processed food consumption. The recipe below is both environmentally low impact and healthy. It is modified from a recipe originally by Ina Garten, author of the Barefoot Contessa cookbooks.
This recipe is simple, quick and tastes wonderful.
Cream of Tomato Soup Using Fresh Tomatoes
3 tablespoons good olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped red onions (2 onions)
2 carrots, unpeeled and chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
4 pounds vine ripened tomatoes, coarsely chopped (5 large)
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 cup packed chopped fresh basil leaves, plus julienned basil leaves, for garnish
3 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup heavy cream
Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-low heat. Add the onions and carrots and sauté for about 10 minutes, until very tender.
Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
Add the tomatoes, sugar, tomato paste, basil, chicken stock, salt, and pepper and stir well.
Bring the soup to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer, uncovered, for 30 to 40 minutes, until the tomatoes are very tender.
Add the cream to the soup. Mix to desired texture with an immersion blender.
Reheat the soup over low heat just until hot and serve with julienned basil leaves and/or croutons.
Note: you can leave the cream out and still have tasty soup!
Olive Oil – multiple use item which you may buy in more environmentally friendly glass packaging, not plastic.
Red onions, carrots, garlic, tomatoes, basil – may all be purchased loose using reusable produce bags.
Sugar – multiple use item which may be purchased in biodegradable paper bags.
Tomato Paste – typically comes in a recyclable can but may be purchased in bulk sizes. Divide into smaller containers which hold enough for individual recipes and freeze extra. Buying large sizes also saves money!
Chicken Stock – this is a tough one since packaged it comes in waxed cardboard boxes. Waxed cardboard is not suitable for recycling although some people add it to their compost in order to keep it out of landfills. Ideally you can make a large, multi use batch of your own chicken stock and store it in individual recipe size containers. Chicken stock has the option of being frozen or canned.
Kosher Salt – multiple use item which may be purchased in biodegradable paper bags or cardboard boxes.
Black Pepper – pepper can take a little bit of work to be green on since it is commonly packaged in plastic containers. Your options are buying pepper packaged in glass or cardboard. A few Amazon vendors carry peppercorns packaged in cardboard or paper bags.
Heavy Cream – like chicken stock, heavy cream is not readily accessible without a waxed coating on the cardboard. To reduce waste you can buy large sizes and divide up for later use. Heavy cream may be frozen.
Remember the goal is to reduce the waste produced in a kitchen. It won’t be perfect but by being aware of the packaging your food comes in you can make big steps towards a green lifestyle.