I did a fantastic cheese-making class at Cornersmith in Marrickville last year under the guidance of cheese maestro Kristen Allen. Apart from making some terrific whey-related puns, Kristen also shared several clever uses for the inevitably large quantities of whey leftover from cheese making. This nutrient and protein-packed superfood has amazing gut-cleansing properties, and can be enjoyed straight as a refreshing and tangy drink, as a skin-softening facial toner, for watering your plants, for soaking grains or beans before cooking, or in smoothies or shakes. I tend to use my leftover whey in various baking pursuits like pizza dough and biscuits, but my most recent act of thrifting was to use the whey leftover from making ricotta in lieu of stock in a huge batch of pumpkin soup. It yielded an incredibly rich and creamy soup, which created quite the buzz in my office thanks to the insane quantities of roasted garlic I threw in there (sorry, co-workers!) I also knocked together a Thai red curry paste of sorts to stir through the soup, which worked incredibly well with the creaminess from the whey.
Full disclosure: I didn’t use a recipe, nor did I write down what I did, so the following process is (at best) just the gist – I threw about a kilo of chopped pumpkin into a pot and poured in the whey (I had about a litre or so), then made my curry paste by combining the aforementioned roasted garlic (a whole head), some cumin, crushed coriander seeds, a red chilli or two, some grated ginger, a finely chopped lemongrass stalk, the zest of a lime, and other usual suspects like salt and pepper. I stirred the paste into the pot and let it all simmer until the pumpkin was cooked through, then added a dollop of coconut cream and blended until smooth. This set me up for several days worth of excellent winter lunches, usually accompanied by some thick slices of toasted Coconut Loaf.