I’m hesitant to even write a “recipe” for garbage soup because it changes every time I make it.

In a nutshell, I look in my crisper to find veggies that are past their prime and simmer them with some broth, sautéed alliums, and canned tomatoes until they’re nice and tender. That’s it.

The combinations are endless but I always try to throw in:

  • carrots and other root vegetables
  • onions, leeks, or shallots sautéed until translucent in some sort of fat
  • a 14-ounce can of diced fire-roasted tomatoes, drained
  • chopped greens (spinach, chard, cabbage, kale, etc.)
  • canned or homemade broth

If I’m feeling fancy, I’ll throw in:

  • a ham hock
  • rehydrated dried mushrooms
  • couple of bay leaves
  • fresh herbs

Time to make Garbage Soup!

Here’s a typical example of how I make garbage soup:

I chopped up some leeks, green garlic, turnips, carrots…

Three ramekin bowls. One is filled with sliced green onions, one is filled with cubed turnips, and one is filled with chopped carrots.

…half a cabbage…

Half a cabbage is sliced thin and placed on a plate.

…and drained a can of fire-roasted canned tomatoes.

Diced fire roasted tomatoes from a can in a ramekin.

I had recently made some beef bone broth so I took it out of the fridge. Normally, I just use the organic chicken stock from Costco.

A close up of beef bone broth.

I melted a couple tablespoons of butter over medium heat in a large soup pot and sauteed the green garlic and leeks until soft.

Someone is sautéing green onions in a pan.

I tossed in the carrots, turnips…

Turnips and carrots are added to a pan that already has green onions and garlic.

…and tomatoes with a sprinkling of salt and pepper.

Fire roasted tomatoes are added to the pan that already has turnips, carrots, green onions, and garlic.

I poured in the broth…

Bone broth is poured into the pan that is making garbage soup.

…added the cabbage…

Raw green cabbage is placed into a pot for the garbage soup.

…and turned up the heat to high so the soup would come to a boil.

Once the soup was boiling, I turned down the heat to low and simmered it (partially covered) for about 30 minutes or until all the vegetables were nice and soft. I adjusted the seasoning with salt and pepper and then ladled up some bowls.

A bowl of garlic soup that is Whole30 and paleo friendly.

Once you’ve made a batch of garbage soup, you can doctor it by adding leftover meats or pan-fried sausage. It’s a great way to clear out your fridge for more veggies!

Looking for more recipe ideas? Head on over to my Recipe Index. You’ll also find exclusive recipes on my iPhone and iPad app, and in my cookbooks, Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2013), Ready or Not! (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2017), and Nom Nom Paleo: Let’s Go! (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2021).

About Michelle Tam

Hello! My name is Michelle Tam, and I love to eat. I think about food all the time. It borders on obsession. I’ve always loved the sights and smells of the kitchen. My mother was (and is) an excellent cook, and as a kid, I was her little shadow as she prepared supper each night. From her, I gained a deep, abiding love for magically transforming pantry items into mouth-watering family meals.

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