Eating green

Last April, I bought some carrots.

I had just moved to the United States, and unlike the thick, woody carrots at our local market in Japan, these were small, organic, and topped with lush greens. They smelled earthy and fresh, and in the tradition of millions of grocery unpackers before me, I twisted the greens off to keep the carrots fresh longer. I was about to throw those greens away when a question stayed my hand:

Are carrot greens food?

Moving to California (a land of cheap, fresh food sold in massive quantities) had made Bonnie Lee and I keenly aware of how easy it would be to waste food here — something we were determined to avoid — and a quick search on the Internet told me that carrot greens are one of the many foods most people feed to the bin rather than to themselves. It’s a shame. Although they lack many of their bright orange roots’ charms, carrot greens have a distinctive bitterness that can add an unexpected accent to a meal, and which balances nicely with other strong flavours.

The first bunch of carrot greens I rescued ended up in some chicken soup stock — and that’s the way I use them most often. They add a layer of complexity to stock, and a healthy greenish tinge, though you still end up with solid waste when you use them that way.

My latest experiment with carrot greens was the Purée of the Whole Danged Carrot Soup (recipe below) that I made for lunch yesterday. I balanced the bitterness of the carrot greens with a good dose of white pepper, and some cider vinegar and honey. I decided not to blend the soup completely, so that little specks of green and orange would still be visible. That gave the soup a bit of crunch and freshness that I liked, but I can see some folks being put off by the texture. For a smoother version, I would suggest throwing a couple of ounces of cooked potato into the mix, and blending the soup more throughly.

Carrot greens also make a good addition to salads, and there are a few recipes for carrot green pesto out there (though I’ve yet to try those). Feel free to share any carrot green recipes, or improvements to my recipe, in the comments.

Purée of the Whole Danged Carrot Soup (1 serving)

Ingredients

Carrot greens are food too

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 4 oz carrots (diced finely)
  • 3 oz onion (diced finely)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • Greens from carrots used above (diced finely, except for 1 sprig to be used for garnish)
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp cider vinegar
  • ¼ tsp white pepper
  • ⅛ tsp salt (or to taste)

Directions

  • Sauté the garlic, onions and carrots in the olive oil over medium heat, until the onions are translucent.
  • Add in the chicken stock and carrot greens, and heat until carrots are tender.
  • Remove soup from heat, and purée using hand mixer or blender.
  • Add in the honey, vinegar, salt and pepper; stir well, and warm soup back up to serving temperature.
  • Plate and garnish with carrot greens.
Associated reduction in the 222 million tons of waste produced annually
Per serving about 1 oz (the weight of the greens, assuming you would have eaten the carrots anyway)
If you eat this once a week 3¼ pounds per year
If everyone in the US eats this meal once over 9,500 short tons
If everyone in the US eats this meal once a week close to 500,000 short tons per year
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