Published: 19-02-2021 17:12:22
There is something about a bowl of hot soup on a cold winter day that warms both heart and soul and fills the stomach. And if the ingredients are from your own garden, the soup tastes even better! Here is a soup I made pretty much with ingredients from my garden.
This is a vegan recipe, but you can include some of your favorite sausages in it, or cook sausage next to it and add it to your dish at meals if other members of your household do not want meat.
The amounts below are enough for a large pot of soup that can feed six or eight, but they are only meant to give you an idea of proportions. You can cut the recipe in half. Or double that if you have a dozen voracious teens. Every time I make it, I vary the ingredients and spices.
One day before the “soup day”, I measured one and a half cups of our home-grown dry beans and soaked them overnight. Then I drained and rinsed them and boiled them in water for an hour and a half. They produced 4 cups of beans when cooked. They should not be hard or crispy – but also not mushy when the soup is done. Beans that are stored longer take longer to cook.
Other dry beans can be used, but pinto beans tend to get mushy when cooked for a long time. And if you forget to soak dry beans, you can use canned beans – three standard 14 oz. cans would be needed after draining and rinsing. I cooked my soup in a 6 liter heavy enameled French cast iron pan. I started by sautéing leeks, shallots and garlic in a little olive oil over low heat. You can use onions instead of leeks, but leeks freeze well and I grow a lot of leeks. My supply of onions from my garden is gradually low, so I used leeks. When the garlic started to brown, I added a liter of water and the beans and cooked over medium heat.
While that was happening, I chopped 2 cups of kale that I had picked that day from my garden. Yes, even in early February, my kale was still okay, despite freezing and thawing many times. I also have bags of kale in my freezer. I remove the center rib before chopping. I added it to the soup, along with 5 medium-sized carrots cut into rounds, not too thin.
Carrots and onions come in many varieties, including those labeled “for storage. Storing carrots lasts for several months in an extra refrigerator or cold cellar (as long as you keep them protected from mice). The classic storage carrot is a variety called “bolero.” Plant the Fourth of July weekend for fall harvest.Patterson is the yellow storage bulb I grow.
Next, I added a little hot pepper – not enough to notice, but enough to add complexity to the broth. I had frozen chopped jalapenos peppers I grew in 2018, and added some along with a smoked dry pepper I buy called chipotle. Fennel seeds compliment carrots well in a casserole dish, so I added a tablespoon of them, and some marjoram and oregano we had grown and dried.
Tomatoes are central to most soups and stews I make, so I freeze large quantities of them whole and store in zippered bags for winter use. I used nine 2-inch tomatoes that weighed 30 ounces – about a big can from the store if you do not have your own. To thaw them, I immersed the tomatoes in a bowl of hot water for 5 minutes or so, and sliced them roughly.
Why are tomatoes a key ingredient? They contain the fifth flavor that our tongues recognize, a called umami. It seems that Americans do not know much about it. We recognize sweet, sour, salty and bitter, but not umami, which is Japanese for “the essence of delicacy.” So I used not only the frozen tomatoes, but a cup of dried “Sungold” tomatoes and 2 cubes of tomato paste, I froze in an ice cube tray.
I have a couple of winter pumpkins I have stored in a cool room but they do not last forever so I peeled and cut one into small chunks for the soup. After peeling and curing, it weighed about 12 ounces.
Finally, I added 2 cups of sweet pepper. I bought half a bushel last fall and froze it all down in zipper bags. No blanching is required and they add a lot of sweetness to the recipe.
Use the vegetables you have in your freezer and pantry. Keep tasting and add spices, salt or sweet things (like more carrots or dried tomatoes) until you feel right. Good appetite!
You can contact Henry at email@example.com or PO Box 364, Cornish Flat, NH 03746.