Panzanella and a Deliciously Sustainable Soup - The Bend Magazine

Panzanella and a Deliciously Sustainable Soup

Sustainable recipes are a tasty way to reduce food waste and help the planet

By: Justin and Kayla Butts  Photos: Rachel Benavides

Food waste is a global problem with a local solution. Food waste costs billions of dollars each year in lost resources and landfills. Wasting food means losing flavors.

A UN report estimates that $750B of food is wasted across the globe each year. The nutritional or regenerative (in compost) value of this food is lost as it rots in expensive landfills. It is estimated that more than a quarter of arable farmland worldwide is growing food that is ultimately wasted.  

Roughly 40% of this food waste occurs in homes. That means families like yours and ours can solve it together — and save money and eat better while doing it!

Sustainable eating begins with sustainable farming and fishing. Shop from local suppliers not just to save the planet, but because the ingredients are so incredibly good. Once you have these exceptional ingredients in your kitchen, stretch them as far as you can with sustainable recipes.

This soup is more formula than recipe. You can replace any of the vegetables and herbs with what you have on hand. The flavor combinations are endless. And we find that veggies past their prime actually add flavor and depth.

Panzanella may be one of the oldest food-saving recipes in history. Stale bread and overripe tomatoes go together so well, it’s almost as if this dish was invented by nature.  

There is much we can easily do to eliminate food waste. We can source our ingredients locally. We can also use those ingredients more thoughtfully and creatively. Turn carrot and radish tops into amazing pesto. Transform onion skins and turnip peels into vegetable broth. Elevate leftovers into something new and beautiful, instead of a lukewarm has-been.

Doing good for the planet has never been so delicious. Save money, reduce waste, and maximize flavor with these easy and sustainable recipes.

Here are more easy ideas for eliminating food waste:

  • Add coffee grounds to your potting soil

  • Banana peels make great garden compost

  • Crystalize citrus peels after juicing them

  • Dip a lemon half in Epsom salt for an all-natural emulsifying cleaner for stubborn pots and pans

  • Dehydrate apple and potato peels on low heat for crunchy, high-fiber snack

  • Add fresh herbs to olive oil and freeze into ice cubes for a quick flavor-infuser.

Serves 4
Prep Time: 25 minutes

4 cups stale French bread, cubed
2 cups tomatoes, roughly diced
Optional: 2 cucumbers, cubed
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup basil, stems removed, chiffonade
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cracked pepper

In a large bowl, combine bread, tomatoes, (and cucumbers if using), and basil. Drizzle bread mixture with olive oil while tossing to distribute evenly over bread. Season with salt and pepper and toss salad once more. Serve at room temperature.

Sustainable (Kitchen Sink) Soup

Makes about 3-4 quarts
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes

2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, sliced
3 garlic cloves
4 russet potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
3 cups or so of any vegetables past their prime; including but not limited to: greens, lettuce, cabbage, carrots, beans, peas, beets, turnips, radishes, corn, celery, peppers, artichokes, broccoli, etc.
Optional: hard cheese rinds
5-6 cups chicken stock (enough to mostly cover vegetables)
1 cup heavy cream
2 bay leaves
2 tsp salt
1 tsp cayenne pepper
¾ tsp poultry seasoning
½ tsp thyme
¼ tsp nutmeg

In a 6-quart pot, heat butter and olive oil over medium heat. Cook onions in oil mixture until fragrant, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook an additional minute. Toss in remaining vegetables and any cheese rinds you have on hand, and fill pot with enough chicken stock until vegetables are mostly submerged. Increase the temperature to high heat until mixture boils, decreasing heat as necessary to prevent boiling over. Continue to cook the soup on a full boil, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender.

Remove soup from heat. In a small pot, heat cream over medium low heat until a few bubbles start to emerge. Add warm cream to vegetable soup. Using a hand blender, puree the soup until smooth. Add more broth if soup is too thick for your liking. Serve hot with a crusty bread.