Earlier this year I helped set up a local food waste initiative called Worcester Food Rescue.
It consists of a small group of volunteers who collect food from supermarkets and other suppliers which is past its “display by” date but before its “use by” date. The food we collect is then distributed to several local charities.
This is one of many similar initiatives across the UK. Without the intervention of these groups a lot more perfectly edible food would end up in landfill.
But the waste generated within supermarkets is a small proportion of the total food waste for which they are responsible.
A huge proportion of food is wasted before it even reaches the supermarkets – thrown away because it doesn’t conform to ridiculously strict cosmetic standards, being the “wrong” size, shape, weight, colour or maybe having a minor blemish.
For years food campaigners have been targeting these narrow cosmetic standards, and now at last there has been a breakthrough.
The British supermarket giant Tesco has announced that it is going to work with its suppliers to reduce food waste within its supply chain. This is welcome news, and a confirmation that sustained consumer pressure does work.
Tesco has also stated that it will publish data about food waste in its supply chains. It has asked its suppliers to identify and prevent food waste and to innovate to make sure less food is thrown away by consumers.
This a small but very significant development. Now it is time for other supermarkets to follow Tesco’s lead by making a commitment to reduce their shameful levels of supply chain food waste.
This week’s recipe is a simple, food-waste-free, hearty autumnal soup which uses every part of the humble potato. The recipe is very straightforward, but the cooking times require a little patience, which is well rewarded at the end: the use of baked potatoes really adds a unique dimension to this dish.
Serve hot, with some good quality bread. Perfect comfort food for enjoying around the fire on bonfire night!
baked potato soup with chive oil
700 g organic potatoes, scrubbed clean and dried
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp sea salt
1 onion, finely chopped
1.2 litres gluten-free vegetable stockfor the chive oil
25 g fresh chives
75 ml extra virgin olive oil
pinch sea salt
1. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C (400°F, gas mark 6). Place the potatoes on a flat or shallow baking tray. Rub 1 tbsp of the olive oil over the skins of the potatoes and cut a cross in the top of each one. Sprinkle over the sea salt. Place in the pre-heated oven for an hour, or until the potatoes have a little “give” in them when (carefully) squeezed, and the outer skin has become browned and crispy. The cooking time will vary depending on the size of the potatoes, so check again every 5-10 minutes if they aren’t done after an hour. Remove the baked potatoes from the oven and set to one side to cool a little.
2. For the chive oil, fill a bowl with iced water. Bring a pan of water to the boil. As soon as water in the pan is boiling, add the chives. Cook for 30 seconds then remove with a slotted spoon and drop into the bowl of iced water to halt the cooking process. Drain and dry on kitchen paper. Place in a blender with the sea salt and olive oil and process until smooth and bright green. Set to one side.
3. Chop the cooled baked potatoes into chunks (leave the skin on, it will add nutrition, colour and flavour to the soup). Pour the remaining two tablespoons of olive oil into a large pan and place over a medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the chopped onion and cook for 5 minutes or until soft and translucent. Add the chopped potatoes and stir. Cook for a couple of minutes, then add the stock. Bring to the edge of a boil before reducing the temperature to low. Simmer for 30 minutes, then remove from the heat and leave to cool for 20 minutes.
4. Blend the soup in a food processor. Check the seasoning, although the salt from the skin of the baked potatoes should be sufficient.
5. To serve, reheat the soup gently in a pan. Pour into bowls and top with a swirl of chive oil.