The Covid-19 pandemic almost stopped modern civilisation in its tracks, and it is not yet over.
For many of us, enforced lockdown was a time of reflection on the way we live our lives, the way we interact with our local community, the way we work and even the way we eat.
In a survey carried out by YouGov, 85% of respondents said they wanted to see some of these changes continue after life returns to some semblance of normality. 42% said that the pandemic had made them value food more – they said they were wasting less food, cooking from scratch more often and purchasing more local produce.
Another survey, commissioned by the Soil Association, reported a significant rise in sales of organic produce over the 12-week period up to the end of May, much of which was spent in lockdown here in the UK.
It would be reasonable to conclude that our heightened sense of the value of food has also led us to buy food which is better quality and ethically produced.
Organic farming is about feeding and nurturing the soil so that it produces healthy plants. It also protects biodiversity and it helps counter global warming by trapping carbon in the soil. If we are to have a future, it must be based upon an organic and sustainable system of food production.
Prior to the pandemic, experts were already warning that we are losing topsoil at a rate ten times faster than it is being replenished. The United Nations has estimated that on current trends we have just sixty years of topsoil left. The consequences of that loss would be terminal. We cannot feed ourselves from barren soil.
The more of us who support organic farming through our food choices, the more we will be encouraging farmers and food producers to go organic, and the sooner that happens the better our chances are of salvaging the future for the generations to come.
And so, on to the recipe: a vibrant bowl of healthy deliciousness.
The quantities in the recipe are enough for six, but the soup does freeze well if you aren’t planning to eat it all in one go.
1 onion, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 small leek, thinly slced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
100 g courgette, sliced
70 g savoy cabbage, shredded
70 g French beans, topped and tailed and cut in half
70 g peas (fresh or frozen)
70 g spaghetti, broken into short lengths
2 sprigs rosemary
2 sprigs thyme
1 tsp sea salt
1.5 litres vegetable stock
10 g fresh basil, chopped
5 g parsley, chopped
5 fresh mint, chopped
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
to serve (optional)
vegetarian or vegan Parmesan cheese, grated
1. Tie the rosemary and thyme stalks with a length of kitchen string to make a bouquet garni. Pour the oil into a suitably large pan and place over a medium heat. Once the oil is hot add the onion and celery and cook for 5 minutes, or until the onion soft and translucent. Add the leeks and garlic and cook, stirring for a further 3 minutes.
2. Next, stir in the courgette, peas, cabbage and French beans. Pour in the stock, add the spaghetti and sea salt. Add the bouquet garni, tying the end of the string to the saucepan handle (this will make it easier to remove the tough rosemary and thyme stalks later).
3. Bring the contents of the pan to a simmer then reduce the heat to keep it at a gentle simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in the basil, mint and parsley and remove from the heat. Sprinkle with the grated Parmesan, if using, and serve immediately.