Green living with Melissa Hemsley

The London-based chef, best-selling cookbook author and one half of the Hemsley + Hemsley duo with her sister Jasmine on her mission to get us all to eat sustainably

Cooking and eating in a planet-friendly way can mean lots of different things to different people, but the great thing is we can all make a few small changes in our daily lives that can make a huge collective difference. Making a greener choice doesn’t have to mean making the perfect choice all the time, it’s simply about making better choices.

My book, Eat Green, is all about inspiring a more positive footprint on the planet in a way that is exciting, nourishing and delicious. I’ve written more than 100 feel-good, delicious, wholesome and time-saving recipes to help us all waste less and champion a greater variety of seasonal vegetables at the centre of the plate, while eating less but better-quality meat and fish — although every recipe can be vegetarian, too.

Veg-centric food can be so tasty, comforting and satisfying. It’s all about finding what you like and how to cook it in a way that makes the most of it. Try roasting chunky cauliflower steaks in spices, for example, or make a cheesy lasagne stuffed with root veg and chickpeas. Soups might sound boring, but jazz them up with roasted butter beans and a dollop of pesto.

I’m a huge fan of my rescue soup, so called because I find it uplifting and grounding. It’s a fantastic way to eat lots of vegetables. I love to slurp the nourishing broth — if you like, you can add in leftover shredded chicken from a Sunday roast, a little flaked fish, ramp up the veg content with some mushrooms or add a soft-boiled egg.

Rescue Noodle Soup with Leftover Chicken

Serves 4

30 mins Prep

1 tbsp ghee
or butter

1 large leek or onion, diced

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1.2 litres vegetable stock or bone broth

1 big handful of a mix of fresh herbs,

such as parsley
and dill, leaves
and stems chopped

1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves or

1 tsp dried

1 bay leaf, dried
or fresh

2 celery sticks, diced

2 carrots, thinly sliced

2 handfuls of 2cm

chunks of root veg

such as sweet potato,

squash, pumpkin,

potato or (in the

summer) courgette

400g noodles or spaghetti, any type

1 tsp olive oil

300g mix of cabbage, rainbow chard and/or chard, stems finely chopped and leaves shredded

300g leftover shredded chicken

Juice of ¼ lemon or 1 tsp apple cider vinegar

2 big handfuls of frozen peas or sweetcorn

Sea salt and black pepper

Method

  1. In a large wide saucepan, heat the ghee or butter and fry the leek or onion over a medium heat for 8 minutes while you prep everything else. Add the garlic and fry for another minute.
  2. Add the stock or broth, chopped parsley or dill stems, thyme, bay leaf, celery, carrot, root veg and some salt and pepper, pop the lid on and cook for 15 minutes until the carrot is almost tender.
  3. Meanwhile, cook the noodles in a separate pan until almost tender (check the label for suggested timings), then drain and rinse under cold water to stop them cooking further. Toss with the olive oil to stop them clumping and set aside.
  4. Back to your soup pan: add the chopped cabbage and chard stems, shredded chicken, lemon juice or vinegar and cook for a few more minutes.
  5. Add the chard leaves, frozen peas or sweetcorn and cooked noodles for a final 2 minutes so that the chard wilts, the peas cook and the noodles heat through. Season to taste and serve up straight away, topped with the fresh herb leaves.

Flexi Swap

For a vegetarian version, swap the chicken for 500g roughly chopped mushrooms and a pinch of dried seaweed or seaweed salt. Sometimes I add even more garlic and a thumb of grated ginger, plus 1 tsp ground turmeric for an extra boost. Try adding a tablespoon of miso or tamari just before serving or swap the herbs for coriander and mint.

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