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The Toronto Star

September 17, 2010


Trash Talk: Time to take stock … and make soup

Toronto Star - Trash Talk
Refrigerator soup is a great way to use up whats in your fridge rather than trash it. This concoction, which turned out reasonably well, included stock from two barbecued chicken carcasses ,along with...

Photos and article by: Ellen Moorhouse
(Special to the Star)


The 2009 movie Paper Man may have garnered mediocre reviews, but it should earn four stars for extolling home-made soup.

It features a luminous Emma Stone as a troubled teenager who befriends an inept, middle-aged novelist paralyzed by writer’s block. He has taken refuge in Montauk, Long Island, to get the creative juices flowing.

Stone’s character, Abby, takes the dregs out of the refrigerator, and with a bit ingenuity and a bottle of beer, creates a wonderful tasty soup, which the writer, Richard, played by Jeff Daniels, declares a miracle. She shrugs off the compliment, saying it’s easy, but does acknowledge canned chicken noodle pales compared to her soup from scratch.

The Composting Council of Canada wants us to think about soup. After all, Ontario vegetables are flooding local markets and Thanksgiving is just a couple of weeks away, along with leftover turkey carcasses perfect for soup stock.

On Saturday, Oct. 9 from 11 p.m. to 4 p.m., the organization, with partners including Exhibition Place and the Toronto Botanical Garden, is staging Soupalicious at Heritage Court on the CNE grounds. Chefs from 35 restaurants will showcase their soups. (Among the participating restaurants are Veritas, The Gladstone, Mildred’s Temple Kitchen, Hall’s Kitchen, the ROM’s C5, RaviSoups and Marben.)

“Soup is a great environmental food. It supports local (producers). It supports using food in the fridge that you might not want on a plate but still has a useful purpose before it goes to a compost bin,” says Susan Antler of the Composting Council. “Basically, the grand medley of whatever you have can go into a soup pot.”

Soup also brings back memories and crosses all cultures. Antler says the restaurants providing the soup will be ethnically diverse, offering a multicultural culinary experience.

The $10 admission charge includes 10 soup samples. Some recipes will be available on the event’s website There will also be free salad offerings, baked goods and samples from mushroom growers.

Metro Vancouver’s website offers a shocking statistic that should have us all taking stock pots off the shelf: “The food thrown away in the United States and Europe alone is enough to feed the entire planet’s population three times over.”

The site’s recommendation: “Eat the blemished fruit and vegetables.” Or, we might add, cook up a pot of nutritious home-made soup.

(For anyone looking for post-Thanksgiving soup recipes, try Jane Brody’s turkey carcass soup at The recipe appeared in the former New York Times food writer’s Good Food Book.)

Cooking in the compost bin

While we might convert fridge leftovers to soup for easy consumption, consider red wiggler worms, the creature of choice for vermicomposting.

They consume their own type of soup — nutrients freed up by bacteria and fungi, decomposers that help break down the organic material you chuck into a composter.

In fact, there’s much more life in those bins than one could ever imagine.

Worm grower and composting promoter Cathy Nesbitt of Cathy’s Crawly Composters in Bradford, is brimming with excitement over her new microscope.

“It shows you some of the micro-organisms — springtails, mites and potworms, which are white worms that look like baby red wigglers but they’re not.”

Springtails are tiny insects, while mites are from the spider family.

Many of the tiny life forms, she can’t identify. “They kind of look like a sugar crystal or a piece of Jell-O. It’s fascinating.”

Nesbitt, who has made presentations to thousands of students since she became a tireless worm advocate, can’t wait to hook her microscope up to a computer or smart board in a classroom to reveal the teeming microscopic web of life in compost and healthy soils.

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