Tag Archives: soup

Beans, Beans the Magical Fruit

It’s been cold here, very cold; and there’s nothing more satisfying in winter than a warm bowl of soup. I typically make a soup at least once a week. One of my favorites is anything showcasing beans. They’re cheap, healthy and hardy. With very little forethought you can serve up a soup that will delight anyone lucky enough to dig into a bowl of it. Today let’s focus on cannellini bean soup. You can get a bag of these beans for a couple bucks, which will give you a far superior result (particularly for soups) than you will get with canned. Although soaking your beans overnight is a small extra step it will allow for a much creamier texture in the end; which is one of the hallmarks of a great bean soup.

You can approach this soup in several ways to adjust for personal preferences. For example you can use either vegetable or chicken stock. One thing I can’t emphasize enough is just how important it is to use homemade stock. We all use carton stock in a pinch, but your end result will be just that, and will taste like well, carton stock. No worries though, you won’t have a swat team coming through your windows if carton stock is all you have.

I also like near the end of simmering adding some kind of green. Here, you have many options such as spinach (fresh or frozen), kale, or Swiss chard. If you are using frozen make sure to thaw and wring out as much moisture as possible before adding it to your soup. If using kale or Swiss chard, make sure to remove the thick stems are they can be rather tough, and we want to retain some healthy green color in the end result.

As far as herbs go, you can use fresh or dried; rule of thumb being 3:1 ratio. In other words, 1 tablespoon fresh, or 1 teaspoon dried.

HARDY CANNELLINI BEAN SOUP

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups dried cannellini beans, soaked overnight in water 2 inches over the level of the beans. Add 1/2 teaspoon baking soda to water.
  • 1 medium-sized yellow onion, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 2 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/3 cup white vermouth (the alcohol will cook out once it’s evaporated)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 2 cups vegetable or chicken stock (homemade preferred)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet Hungarian paprika
  • 1-2 teaspoons sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Soak 2 cups dried cannellini beans overnight, covering the beans with 2 inches of water and adding 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda to the water. Drain the next day and place in a large Dutch oven or soup pot with a tightly fitting lid. Cover them with 3 inches of water and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda. Add 2 cloves of garlic lightly smashed, and 1 bay leaf. Bring to a boil, cover leaving a little space open for the lid and lower heat to medium-low. Cook beans for 40-60 minutes, or until soft. Drain beans and set aside.
  2. In the same pot, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Once oil is shimmering, add the diced onion, carrot and celery. Cook, stirring often until the onion has softened and is turning translucent, about 5-7 minutes.
  3. Add garlic, beans, tomato paste, potatoes, rosemary, thyme and paprika. Cook stirring frequently, about 1 minute.
  4. Add the vermouth, stir well and let it simmer until it has evaporated, cooking for an additional 2 minutes.
  5. Add stock of your choice, and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Raise the heat and bring the mixture to a boil, then cover the pot, reduce heat and cook gently for 20 minutes. When the potatoes are soft, and the soup is thick and creamy, add the greens of your choice. Stir to wilt the greens, yet keeping their color and some texture.
  6. Taste and adjust the seasoning. You may need additional salt, depending on your personal preferences.
  7. Ladle into bowls, and drizzle with some extra-virgin olive oil.

Serves 6-8

“Beans have a soul.” –Pythagoras

Satisfying Soupa!

I think many of us would agree that in the winter, soups and stews are so comforting. There is something about their warmth and aroma that is deeply satisfying. When I’m not eating at the table, I have a particular bowl that fits nicely in the palm of my hand. I love to spoon soup from it while staring out on the landscape outside my writing window. It is then when I feel particularly satisfied on multiple levels.

Root vegetables in particular work well in soup. When you combine these with homemade stock you have something nourishing and healthy to offer your family. Maybe it just feeds our soul. One of my favorites soups that is on constant rotation is Minestrone. It can literally be any combination of vegetables you choose or have on hand. Add some beans and greens and you are all set.

BRICKYARD FARMS MINESTRONE

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups sweet potatoes, cut in cubes
  • 2 cups carrots sliced on the bias
  • 2 cups zucchini, cubed
  • 2 quarts homemade chicken or vegetable stock; or 2 cartons organic stock
  • 1 (15 oz) can fire-roasted tomatoes with juice
  • 1 (15 oz) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 4 cups baby spinach OR Swiss chard OR kale, stemmed and chopped
  • Freshly grated Parmesan or pecorino cheese (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. In a large pot over medium-high heat, saute onions and garlic in olive oil until soft and translucent. Add carrots, sweet potatoes and zucchini and saute for 4-5 minutes.
  2. Add stock, tomatoes with juice and Italian seasoning. Bring to a boil, then turn down to medium-low and simmer until sweet potatoes and carrots are soft, about 25 minutes.
  3. Add cannellini beans and spinach (or whatever green you choose) simmer just until greens wilt.
  4. Ladle into bowls and top with Parmesan or pecorino.

Serves 6-8

“To feel safe and warm on a cold wet night, all you really need is soup” –Laurie Colwin

Summer + Corn = Delicious

It’s been a while since my last post, but when the farm season is on it demands most of our waking hours. It has been hot and humid for the past month. At the end of the day, all I want is a shower and a cocktail! We had a successful garlic harvest that was sold in just two days! We are currently harvesting our early potatoes and onions. When my brother in law brought a dozen ears of corn to us, I knew I wanted to make some corn chowder. It is such a pleasure to use vegetables from our farm, at their peak of freshness.

Making a stock out of the corn cobs really deepens the flavor profile. I prefer the sweetness of white summer onions, red potatoes and dill for this soup; but use whatever suits your taste. You could substitute the red potatoes for Yukon golds, use a sweet yellow onion like Walla Walla, and cilantro instead of dill. This soup uses a mirepoix for a base, but you could use onions and jalapeño for a southwestern flare. Either way, the end result will not disappoint.

SUMMER CORN CHOWDER

INGREDIENTS

FOR CORN STOCK:

  • 4 cups chicken stock (homemade if possible)
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Reserved corn cobs

FOR CORN CHOWDER:

  • 4 cups corn kernels (from about 4-5 ears of corn), reserving cobs for stock
  • 6 slices bacon, chopped
  • 1 large onion of choice, finely diced (approximately 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and finely diced (1 cup)
  • 3 stalks celery, finely diced (1 cup)
  • 3 medium potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1/4 inch cubes
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt or to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Pinch of red pepper or to taste
  • 3 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Make the corn stock by cutting kernels from the cobs with a sharp knife. Set corn kernels aside, and place cobs in a stock pot.
  2. Add 4 cups chicken stock, milk, and heavy cream. Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer. Cook 30 minutes while you make the chowder. Use tongs to remove and discard cobs.
  3. In a large Dutch oven or heavy pot, brown chopped bacon over medium-high heat. Remove bacon bits to paper towels to drain with a slotted spoon.
  4. In the same pot, add chopped onion, carrot and celery to the bacon fat and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally until onion is soft and translucent.
  5. Add corn kernels, potatoes, additional salt, freshly ground black pepper to taste, and a pinch of cayenne. Add corn stock and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes or until potatoes are soft. Add fresh chopped dill and ladle into bowls. Top with bacon bits.

Serves: 4-6

“Summertime, and the living is easy.” –George Gershwin

Basic Comfort

As we dive into our pantry’s and larder’s, there are few things more affordable than beans. I always have assorted cans on hand for dinners that come together quickly. But when it comes to a texture and flavor difference, I can’t recommend enough, using dried beans. My goodness, could anything be more pantry stable and down right cheap? As many of us are home more than usual due to the pandemic, this is the perfect time to simmer up a pot of these amazing nuggets.

There are four dried beans that I always have on hand, both for their versatility and flavor: cannellini, chickpeas, dark red kidneys, and black. You can create beautiful soups, stews, salads and braises. It is not difficult to cook dried beans; it’s really a matter of time. Although I own an Instant Pot, I prefer to cook beans on the stove. I find that electric pressure cookers give you a lack of control. The beans tend to split and rupture their skins when cooked in a pressure cooker. The beauty of controlling the simmer and cooking time is they will be just right for your application. The only thing you really need to plan is soaking them overnight.

A pot on cannellini’s ready for the stove.

Sometimes you will cook beans to add to your recipe; other times they are part of the recipe and are cooked with your meat. There are a few nuances that I suggest when cooking beans. The most important one is don’t salt your beans while they are cooking. Salt makes the skins tough and doesn’t allow the bean to become soft. Once your beans are cooked to the texture required for your recipe, then feel free to add salt. Beans require salt! I also like to add a few cloves of garlic and a bay leaf, but this is an option, not a requirement. There is such a thing as the pot liqueur or the bean cooking liquid. When I cooked beans for this stew, I dished up a cup of the beans, pot liqueur and topped it with homemade basil oil. I literally swooned!

The following stew is a great way to use cooked cannellini beans. You can use either bulk Italian sausage or link. If you use links, you will simply remove their casings before cooking. The spinach adds a nice texture and color. If you don’t have spinach, you can use Swiss chard or ribboned kale or leave it out completely. The stew will still taste great!!

ITALIAN STEW WITH CANNELLINI AND SAUSAGE

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups dried cannellini beans
  • 3 cloves garlic and 1 bay leaf (optional)
  • 4 ounces pancetta, finally cubed
  • 1 pound bulk/or 5 links, Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced 1/4 inch
  • 2 cups (packed) fresh baby spinach
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS:

FOR THE BEANS:

  1. Soak your 2 cups of beans overnight. Cover them with about 4 inches of water.
  2. Drain your beans and place in a Dutch oven of enamel covered cast iron pot and cover with water about 2 inches. Add garlic and bay leaf if using. Bring to a boil, then turn heat down to a simmer. Cover and cook 45-90 minutes until soft. Once soft, add 1 teaspoon Kosher salt and simmer 15 minutes more. Drain and separate beans in half. You will puree one half to thicken stew.
Italian sausage and pancetta

FOR STEW:

  1. If using links, take the sausage meat out of its casings and crumble it into a large soup pot, along with the pancetta.
  2. Cook over medium-high heat for 10-15 minutes, until thoroughly cooked and slightly browned. Meanwhile, prep the other ingredients.
  3. Transfer the sausage and pancetta to a plate lined with paper towels, leaving 2 tablespoons of fat in the pot (spoon any excess out).
  4. Add the onion to the pot and sauté for 3-5 minutes or until soft and translucent. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute more.
  5. Add the beans, chicken broth, Italian seasoning, and rosemary. Stir thoroughly and dissolve any browned bits in the bottom of pot. Simmer for 5 minutes.
  6. With an immersion blender, (I use a quart Mason jar) puree the remaining half of cooked beans until smooth. Add them back to the pot, along with the sausage and pancetta. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
  7. Remove stew from heat and stir in the baby spinach. The spinach will wilt in about 2 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve hot.

Serves 4-6

Ready to serve
Savory Italian bean and sausage stew.

” A stew sustains you against the hungers of the world.”

Big Bowl of Luscious

We’re expecting 2-5 inches of snow this evening.  What better than to make something warm, comforting and downright luscious; homemade Black Bean Soup.  Typically, the approach is to add savory ingredients, and a little heat.  The solution to this is garlic, wine, spices and peppers in varying amounts.  I seriously recommend using dried beans, rather than canned for two reasons:  1) Canned beans can’t absorb the subtlety of spices and peppers like dried beans over low heat and time and 2) It’s all about texture.  You want a combination of cooked savory beans and bean puree that creates a mouthful of yum.

The heat in this soup is accomplished two ways; canned and pureed chipotles and fresh jalapenos.  Chipotles are intense, so a little goes a long way.  I use a moderate amount with the option for guests to add additional puree if they are so inclined. Every time you consider ingredients, you increase the yum factor.  So for example, homemade chicken stock to canned, Mexican oregano to Italian or Greek.  You might not think it makes a difference, but it does.  Also your garnishes add flavor in an astonishing way.  Quick pickled red onions, avocado, sour cream or Mexican crema and of course fresh cilantro.  This combination of flavors and textures are sure to create a soup of extraordinary depth and flavor.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 small (7-ounce) can of chipotle chilies in adobo
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 medium yellow onions, peeled and chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup red wine (I use Shiraz or Cabernet)
  • 1 pound of dry black beans, soaked overnight (I like Valentine or Black Turtle)*
  • 2 quarts chicken stock, homemade if possible
  • 2 teaspoons Mexican oregano
  • 2 teaspoons Epazote (I find mine at Penzey’s)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Red wine vinegar, to taste

FOR THE PICKLED ONIONS AND GARNISHES:

  • 1 small red onion, peeled and sliced vertically
  • Kosher salt
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • Sour cream or Mexican crema
  • Whole fresh cilantro leaves
  • Sliced avocado

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DIRECTIONS:

  1.  In a small food processor, puree your can of chipotles until smooth, scape into a container, and set aside.
  2. In a large heavy pot, heat olive oil over medium heat until shimmering.  Add carrots, onions and garlic and cook, stirring, until softened but not browned, 5-8 minutes.
  3. Pour in wine and let simmer until pan is almost dry and vegetables are coated; about 8-10 minutes.  Add jalapenos and cook, stirring, just until softened, about 2 minutes.  Push vegetables out to the edges of the pot and dollop 2 generous teaspoons of chipotle puree in the center.  Let fry for a minute and then stir together with the vegetables.
  4. Add drained beans, stock, oregano and bay leaves.  Stir, bring to a boil, and let boil for 10-15 minutes.  Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, partly covered, stirring occasionally and adding hot water as needed to keep the soup liquid and runny not sludgy.  Continue cooking until beans are just softened and fragrant, 1-2 hours.  Add salt and pepper and keep cooking until beans are soft.
  5. Meanwhile, make the pickled onions.  In a small bowl, combine sliced onions, lime juice and a generous sprinkling of salt.  Let soften at room temperature until crunchy and tart, about 30 minutes.  Drain and rinse with cold water.  Squeeze dry in paper towels and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  6. Adjust the texture of the soup.  Remove 2 cups of beans to a quart Mason jar, and with an immersion blender puree until smooth.  Return bean puree to soup pot.
  7. Adjust seasoning by adding 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, and additional salt.
  8. Serve in deep soup bowls, garnishing with sour cream, pickled onions, cilantro leaves and sliced avocado.

Serves 6-8 with leftovers

“To feel safe and warm on a cold wet night, all you really need is soup.” — Laurie Colwin

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Earthly Delights

It feels like fall today.  Our weather and climate is unpredictable.  This has been our most unusual farm year.  Vegetables that normally grow without issue have struggled or been unable to grow at all.  This has not been a singular issue.  Many of our customers that have small gardens are wondering why they can’t grow certain vegetable this year.  Although there is no definite answer, as Dylan said, “The times they are a changing.”

Although change is definite, it instructs us to be fully present each day to the small miracles that surround us.  Comfort comes in many forms and simple pleasures can sometimes bring the most well-being.  Today it came in the form of warmth.   Our Katadin potatoes are the old Irish famine potato; earthy, creamy, with thin skins, they are exceptional in taste and texture.  When I first came to the farm I thought that a potato was a potato; until I tasted these remarkable spuds.  If you don’t have access to this particular variety, you can use russets.  It’s important to use a variety that breaks down slightly when cooked.  The advantage is a creamy soup without the use of heavy cream.  Make sure you use fresh dill.  It elevates this soup to something distinctive. Although the ingredients are simple, the soup is heavenly.

POTATO LEEK SOUP

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 pounds of Katadin (or russet) potatoes, scrubbed and cut into chunks
  • 3 medium leeks, using white and pale green parts, scrubbed and sliced thinly
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter (I use Kerrygold)
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt, (I use Maldon)
  • 1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a large pot, over medium-high heat, melt the butter then add the leeks and saute until soft, about 4-6 minutes.  Add the potatoes and salt; then water to cover the potatoes by about an inch.  Bring to a boil, then turn down to medium and cook until the potatoes are soft. (When using fresh potatoes, be aware that these cook much faster than other potatoes that have been cured, or harvested many months earlier).  Taste for salt, add more if needed.
  2. With an immersion blender, blend the soup to thicken, leaving a far amount of chunks.  Add half of the fresh dill.
  3. Ladle into bowls and top with additional dill.

Serves 4-6

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“There is nothing like soup. It is by nature eccentric: no two are ever alike, unless of course you get your soup in a can.” — Laurie Colwin

Cherry….Cherry Baby!

Here at the farm, we try to use whatever the land serves up; whether perfect, imperfect or abundance overload.  As we wait somewhat impatiently for our summer slicing tomatoes, we are totally excited that our cherry tomatoes are producing their delicious little orbs.  When they come on strong, as they are now, we take tons to market; but the real excitement is when I start roasting them for cherry tomato soup!  I love to stock the larder each year, and this is often where I start.  Using Sun Gold and Sweet 100’s separately or combined will offer up some of the best tomato soup you have ever tasted, and it uses only 4 ingredients! As a farmer I will have to say that the variety of cherry tomatoes does matter.  Taste your produce before purchasing to make sure yours are sweet and flavorful.  For those of you not inclined to can your produce, this soup freezes well in pint containers.  I roast two large sheet pans at a time, which will yield 5 pints of soup.  This is also when you can use your frozen roasted garlic cubes (from a previous blog post) adding it to your blender for additional depth.

When the weather gets cold (and it will get cold!) it is a real pleasure to open up a pint of this soup; top it with homemade croutons or basil oil as a starter.  And of coarse you will never go wrong with a white cheddar grilled cheese sandwich to dunk in a steaming bowl of this deliciousness for lunch!

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ROASTED CHERRY TOMATO SOUP

INGREDIENTS:

  • 8 pounds of cherry tomatoes (a pint is a pound the world round)
  • 2 heads of garlic, cloves separated, peeled and divided (skip this step if using your frozen roasted garlic cubes
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt (I use Maldon), divided

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Using two large rimmed baking sheets, place 4 pounds of cherry tomatoes in each one.  Sprinkle one peeled and separated head of garlic on each sheet pan.
  2. Sprinkle 1/4 cup olive oil over each pan and with the palms of your hands, roll the tomatoes around until they are all evenly coated with oil.
  3. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of sea salt over each sheet pan.
  4. Roast for 30-40 minutes or until tomatoes are slightly colored and bursting; turning sheets from top to bottom halfway through.  Remove from oven and let cool.
  5. Prepare 5 pints for canning or freezing.  If you have a Vita Mix use it.  I can usually get one sheet pan per blender batch.  If you are using your frozen roasted garlic cubes, add one cube per batch.  Blend thoroughly and taste for salt.  Add more if needed.  In a large bowl with a wire mesh strainer over it; pour half the tomato mixture into the strainer and scrape a silicone spatula over the bottom to remove  skin and/or seeds.  (you can skip this step if the seeds don’t bother you; I like my soup with a silky texture)  Pour into pint jars leaving 1/2 inch headroom or freezer containers leaving 1 inch headroom.  Repeat process with second sheet pan.
  6. Water bath pints for 15 minutes or freeze.

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Yields: 5 pints

“There is nothing that tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich can’t fix!”

 

The Beet Goes On

Until I moved to our vegetable farm I absolutely hated beets and avoided them at all costs.  Yet here I am staring out at the drifted snow and frozen lake with a bowl of borscht in my hand.  The smell alone is enough to make you swoon.  I feel a sense of gratitude for learning to love the darn things.  Our farm is committed to growing vegetables without chemicals (which can significantly alter their flavor) so when I tried them again I was surprised by their inherent sweetness.  What was I thinking?  They are one the best things you can eat; full of essential vitamins and minerals.  They are low in calories and sodium along with assisting in the reduction of inflammation in the body.  They also support heart, digestion and brain function.  So what’s not to like?  There’s nothing like a bowl of warm goodness to set you straight.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium leek, cleaned and sliced thinly (make sure you use the light green part as well)
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 medium red onion, peeled and chopped
  • 4-6 carrots, peeled and grated on the large holes of a box grater
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into bite size chunks
  • 6 small or 3 large beets, peeled and cut into bite size chunks
  • 3 cups of thinly sliced red cabbage
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh dill
  • 8 cups organic vegetable stock (or homemade of course)
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • Greek yogurt to serve (optional)

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INSTRUCTIONS:

  1.  Heat the olive oil in a soup kettle or Dutch oven on medium high heat.
  2. Add leek, garlic and red onion.  Saute until soft and translucent.
  3. Add sweet potato, beets and grated carrot.  Cook for 5 minutes stirring frequently.
  4. Add red cabbage, dill and vegetable stock.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium.  Simmer for 30 minutes or until beets are soft when a paring knife is inserted.
  5. Add red wine vinegar off heat.  Serve in bowls topped with a dollop of yogurt if using and sprinkle additional fresh chopped dill on top.

Serves 6-8

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“Soup fills us, nurtures and comforts us.  Soup is the song of the heart and the home.”

Many Shades of Green

After working in the heat and humidity today, we decided it was high time to remove the storm windows in our screened-in porch.  It’s really our “family room” during the summer.  Our dining room table is temporarily retired and we open the french doors.  It is here that we have our morning coffee, our evening cocktail, eat our meals and play endless games of domino’s. Overlooking the lake, surrounded by trees and our flower gardens, it is our sanctuary at the end of a hectic farm day.

After a shower and Bloody Mary, I wanted to make something in contrast to the heavy humidity of the past several days.  Remembering I had purchased beautiful English cucumbers from Real Food at the farmer’s market on Saturday; it was time to turn them into a refreshing chilled soup.  This is super easy and just right for those night’s when your tired but want something quick and healthy.  The olive oil gives this soup a creamy texture.

Tangy Cucumber Soup:

  • 3 Persian or English cucumbers, ends trimmed and coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 3 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh chives, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh dill or cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil (omit if you choose to drink this as a smoothie)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Place all ingredients except the olive oil in a blender.  Puree until smooth.  With the blender still running, gradually add the olive oil until incorporated.  Transfer to a bowl and chill for at least an hour.  Ladle into bowls and garnish with additional dill or cilantro.

Serves 4

Chilled soup or smoothie, you be the judge

Chilled soup or smoothie, you be the judge

 

“Live within your harvest.”  —Persian Proverb

Cream Of The Crop

Spring seems to be dragging its feet around here.  One day it’s warm, the next day it’s cool, while the night’s plunge into the low 40’s and occasionally the 30’s.  It looks like our tomato planting is put off another week. Those 2600 little darlings will just have to wait it out in the hoop house until the night temperatures warm up.

The good news is that the rain and warm daytime temperatures are wonderful for glorious spring asparagus!  Do I see a pattern here?  Wasn’t I just making a pronouncement last week that it’s one of the few vegetables I will only use fresh?  Well, that was last week.  We bought 10 pounds to put up, taking full advantage of fresh Michigan asparagus while it’s plentiful now; and boy is it ever!  Nearly every stall at the farmer’s market is overflowing with the stuff.  I know that we will be reminded of our favorite veggie in this wonderful cream soup long after the season is over.

There are many approaches to asparagus soup, but typically the essentials involve asparagus, onions or leeks and chicken stock.  With spring leeks available, that choice was a no-brainer.  However the addition of garlic, fresh spring tarragon and vermouth kick it up a notch.  And of course there’s the cream.  Honestly, it’s decadence is worth the calories!

Cream of Asparagus Soup:

  • 2 lbs. fresh asparagus
  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 4 small leeks, using white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup dry vermouth
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh tarragon, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream

Directions:

Snap off the tough stem ends from the asparagus spears.  Cut the tips off a dozen or so and set aside for garnish. Chop the remaining asparagus into 1 inch pieces.

In a small saucepan, blanch the asparagus tips for 2 minutes, then plunge into ice water.  Let drain on paper towels.  Reserve for later.

In a heavy soup pot over medium heat, melt the butter.  Add the leeks and garlic and saute until tender and translucent, about 3-4 minutes.

Fragrant leeks and garlic

Fragrant leeks and garlic

Getting better all the time

Getting better all the time

Add the asparagus and 4 cups of chicken stock.  Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to medium-low.  Add the chopped tarragon.  Cover and cook for about 20 minutes.

Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth, about 2 minutes. Alternately, you can puree the soup in batches in a blender, then return to the pot.  Add lemon juice and heavy cream.  Reheat the soup to serving temperature.  Ladle in shallow bowls and garnish with reserved asparagus tips.

Tip:  This soup is also great cold, so pack it for your next lunch if you’re luck enough to have leftovers.

Serves: 4

Spring never tasted so decadent.

Spring never tasted so decadent.

“Worries go down better with soup.”