Today I finally got round to making Melrose and Morgan’s Chestnut Soup.

Nick gave me a taste of this luxurious velvety soup when I was in their office before Christmas and I have been thinking about it ever since. I know they recommend it for Christmas but with the temperatures dropping by the day, this is a wonderful rich heartwarming treat, even without the cream or sherry, which I left out. Such a simple way of using up old root veg lurking at the bottom of the veg drawer or in that veg box delivery that always seems to be just one or two items too many for that week. In my case it was also a chance to make the most of an old box of cooked chestnuts that was hidden away in the depths of my cupboard for many a year now. It was also a chance to christen my new blender which was my big Christmas pressie this year. How wondrous to be able to achieve such smoothness in seconds. Thanks Mum & Dad!

falcon-enamelware

Incidentally, I roasted my veg in last year’s Christmas present, a red falcon enamelware tin and then deglazed it with the stock to get all those caramelised bits into the soup. Those tins are simply a wonderful buy and should be in every kitchen. I love them.

There has been so much publicity this week about food waste and so all this using up is definitely a good thing. Having come from a retail background, I know that use by dates are necessary but have always been one of those people who used them as a guide rather than a religion, endorsing Oliver Thring’s advice to treat them with scepticism. There is nothing wrong with my 5 year old chestnuts, so I am happy to simmer them until they are as good as new.

The person who has most influenced me on my shopping and wastage habits is the wonderful Sofagirl from campariandsofa.com. Living in Cape Town means that the life of fresh produce is harder than ever to retain but somehow Sofagirl gets it spot on each and every week. I can arrive at hers and open the door to an empty fridge thinking there is nothing at all for dinner and the next thing you know, there is a fabulous feast served up for all to share.

The secret, I am told, is in the larder and freezer ingredients. Who can’t make something out of the remains of the fridge and some pasta, or one of those wonderful other pulses that we know and love. The freezer is truly the gift that keeps on giving in this circumstance as it not only offers treats to defrost if necessary (I always have raw jumbo prawns in there, plus peas and wonderful poilane bread to toast) but it can also be the store cupboard needed when I have over catered, which is most of the time.

Today I queued behind a lady in Waitrose who spend £247.13 on her shop, charged to her black AmEx card, and I wondered what she thought of the 2 billion tonne food waste statistics. Oliver Thring also wrote that if you could somehow take all the UK food waste and get it into the tummies of those starving around the world, then 2/3 of them would no longer go hungry. Now that is food for thought.

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