Monday, December 7, 2009
Hearty vegetable soup = a great way to clear out the vegetable drawer
Since moving last July, I do not yet have a fully functioning veggie garden. In response, I am splitting a winter CSA (community supported agriculture) share with some friends. The farm we bought a share from is Jubilee Farm in Carnation, WA. It is a good thing we are sharing it, because each week we receive a HUGE box of produce. I find myself struggling to keep up with the vegetable drawer. One sure fire way to use up my veggies before receiving the next huge box is to make soup. Winter soups are hearty and delicious, and can be made with just about any veggies you like. Since I am mostly receiving root veggies from my CSA box, my soups have been heavy on those ingredients lately.
I made a soup from the following ingredients today:
leeks, celeriac, potatoes, celery, carrots, thyme, rainbow chard, farfalle (bow tie pasta), chicken broth, water, sea salt, butter.
Some of these are ingredients that I did not grow up with, and have only learned about since college.
Celeriac, also called celery root, is the really ugly root in the photo above. It is in fact the root of a celery plant, although they are different varieties, one bred for the stalk, and the other for the root. Celeriac has a flavor a lot like celery, but a texture very similar to a potato. This makes it a great veggie to use in purees, mashes, and to thicken soups with.
Leeks are the long scallion-looking things in the photo above. They have a delicate onion flavor, and can be minced and sauteed similarly to onions. Only use the white and light green parts of a leek. Also, be sure to cut in half length-wise, as I have done in the photo, to be able to clean well between the layers. Leeks always seem to trap a lot of soil between the layers... not something you want in your food.
Rainbow chard is a delicious and beautiful dark green leafy vegetable. The leaves are too thick and tough to eat raw, and should be cooked similarly to spinach to be enjoyed to their fullest. The colorful center rib is very tough and stringy in mature leaves, and should be removed prior to cooking.
I made my soup by first sauteing the leeks and fresh thyme in some butter and salt for a few minutes. Then I added the potatoes, celery, minced celeriac and coarsely diced carrots. I let it all saute and brown for a bit. Then I added chicken broth and water (50/50 by volume) to cover. When the potatoes were tender I added a bit of farfalle pasta and then some chopped chard at the very end. Before eating, I grated some parmesan cheese over the soup.
Other things that would be good in the soup:
Any other grains that you may have (rice, quinoa, barley, etc...), beans like lentils, garbanzo, and cannellinis, onions, garlic, tomatoes, kale, parsnips, parsley, oregano, or just about anything else you may have in your veggie bin.