Lisa Donohue’s CSA Standby Soup

Last Friday our friend Lisa Donohue, of the Thrive Center in Wallingford, joined us at the Friday Summer Series in downtown Rutland to share one of her favorite summer recipes: her CSA standby soup. While at its base, this is a leek and potato soup, Lisa has enhanced the Smokey House Center’s recipe with a whole variety of seasonal, local vegetables – you know, those you might acquire from your CSA and don’t know how to possibly use them all.

If you sampled her tasty soup on Friday, you would have enjoyed fresh produce from Evening Song Farm and Tangled Roots Farm, stock made from Yoder Farm chicken, and Cobb Smoked Bacon from the Wallingford Locker.

Lisa Donahue’s CSA Standby Soup

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Serving Size: 4 + Servings

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 3 leeks, washed and thinly sliced
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 1/4 lbs potatoes
  • 2 parsnips, chopped
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 4 cups chicken or veg stock (water could also be used if no stock is available)
  • 1/2 cup cream (optional)
  • any of the following for garnishing: sauteed bacon, corn, sour cream, chopped shiitake mushrooms, fresh chives or herbs

Instructions

  1. 1. Heat the oil and butter in a large pot and add the leek and celery. Cook, covered, over moderate heat for 5 minutes, or until softened, stirring occasionally.
  2. 2. Add the potato, parsnip, carrots and stock to the pan. Cover and bring to a boil. Tilt lid so the pot is partially covered and cook for 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.
  3. 3. Optional: Puree either with an immersion blender or cool slightly and transfer to a stand blender or food processor, blending in batches until smooth.
  4. 4. To serve hot, return the soup to the pot to reheat and stir in the cream, if using. To serve cold, chill after blending and add cream just before serving, if desired. Top with chives, bacon, corn, sour cream, or fresh herbs.
  5. Feel free to customize this soup with your favorite veggies!
  6. Adapted from the Smokey House Center in Danby, VT

Summer Corn Chowder

Sweet, crunchy and slightly rich. It’s summer corn time. And when added to this chowder, those flavors are only further enhanced – and not drowned out with cream. With some smart techniques, there’s no need for such embellishments or reason to consider corn chowder anything but healthy.

Summer Corn Chowder

Ingredients

  • Kernels from 6 ears of fresh corn, cobs reserved
  • 3 tablespoons butter or oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small bunch of chives or scallions, or 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (only if your corn isn’t sweet)
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 small bunch of thyme, tied together with string
  • 2 large baking potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 quart milk, half-and-half or nondairy milk
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1/4 lb bacon, chopped (optional – cook in pot before step 2 until crispy, then remove and use to garnish)

Instructions

  1. Cover the reserved cobs with water in a large pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat and let simmer for 30 minutes as you prep the rest of your ingredients. When done, discard cobs and pour the broth into a large bowl.
  2. In the same pot, heat the oil or butter over medium heat. Add the garlic, chives, sugar and thyme. Stir and cook for a minute.
  3. Pour the broth back into the pot with the chopped potatoes and 1/2 of the corn kernels. Generously season with salt, cover and simmer about 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
  4. (Optional) Use an immersion blender to blend the soup just slightly to thicken. Or, transfer a portion of the soup to a traditional blender if desired.
  5. Add in the remaining corn kernels, the tomato and the milk. Simmer another 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
  6. Ladle into bowls, top with the bacon, if using, and a sprig of thyme.

You start by slicing the corn kernels off your cobs. Simplify the process by using the setup pictured here. More details on that in a previous post.

Then, take those de-kerneled cobs, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Simmer for 20-30 minutes to remove their hidden flavor – perhaps as you prep the rest of your ingredients. Though this can always be done ahead of time.

Meanwhile, chop some onions. You can use an onion, or as many of the recipes I’ve given out lately include, chives, for a milder flavor.

Tie a small bunch of thyme together with kitchen string. I really love the flavors of thyme and corn paired together. Don’t have time? Try another woody herb. Rosemary or oregano could work. I don’t recommend dried thyme, however. I just don’t care for the flavor. We’re tying it together because we’re going to remove it after simmering the soup.

Chop your potatoes. Larger pieces will take longer to cook, but result in more texture, whereas small pieces may break down into the chowder after cooking.

Now heat a pot over medium high heat – if your cobs have finished simmering you can strain the broth, set it aside, discard the cobs and use the same pot. Then add the onion/chives, thyme and chopped garlic. Salt and cook for a couple of minutes before adding in the potatoes, half of the corn kernels and the corn broth.

Bring it to a boil and let simmer for a good 20 minutes or so. You don’t want a heavy boil, but just so it’s gently bubbling. Afterwards, taste, add more salt if needed and continue simmering if the potatoes aren’t cooked.

Now for the fun part

 Then add in some chopped tomatoes and the milk. Tomatoes are completely untraditional here, but I like them anyway. I’ve also enjoyed it will some zucchini as well. Whatever grade of milk you prefer will work – though skim will make it less creamy. I’ve found that soy milk adds a surprisingly rich flavor without the calories and fat of cream. Add a splash of olive oil or a couple tablespoons of butter if you find it lacking.

Ladle into bowls and top with fresh green herbs like parsley or basil. Or, if you prefer to use bacon in your chowder, as many do – cooked in the pot before the onion – you could add that crumbled bacon to the top of each bowl. Enjoy.

Corn and Bacon Sauté

We kicked off the expansion of Farm Fresh Connect, our local, online farmers market, to the communities of Pittsford and Chittenden last week. We’re pumped to make local food more accessible in these two Vermont towns, both of which have limited shopping opportunities – particularly for locally grown and produced food.
While the pickup of market orders happens at elementary schools in both towns, anyone in either community – whether they work or live nearby – is open to shopping on Farm Fresh Connect.

As part of the promotion of Farm Fresh Connect, at Wednesday pick ups between 3 & 5pm, we’re offering tastings of dishes made with items found on the market. Last week, it was this simple  corn and bacon sauté.

Sweet corn and smoky bacon are just meant to be paired together, which is why I love to start a pot of corn chowder with the fat left behind after cooking bacon. I add in a little zucchini and jalapeno,  if inclined, but almost always include basil. Thyme would work nicely as well.

The result is an excellent side dish for encapsulating the fleeting tastes of summer, though I’ve had a whole bowl as my entire dinner, too.

Hope to see you at one of our market pick-ups!

Corn and Bacon Sauté

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 4 servings, as a side

Ingredients

  • 1/4 lb bacon
  • 5 ears corn, husked
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 small zucchini
  • 2 tablespoons minced basil leaves
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 small jalapeno (optional)

Instructions

  1. Chop the bacon into a small dice. In a pan over medium high heat, cook the bacon until crisp, watching closely to avoid burning. When crisp, use a slotted spoon to remove from the pan and set aside on a paper towel lined plate. Remove the pan from the heat.
  2. Slice the kernels off the corn cobs. A good way to do this is to invert a small bowl inside of a larger bowl and stand the cob on the small bowl. As you slice, the kernels will fall into the large bowl. Then, chop the onion and zucchini into a small dice. If using the jalapeno, remove the seeds and chop as well.
  3. Return the pan with the bacon grease to the heat and add the corn, onion, zucchini and optional jalapeno. Cook 8-10 minutes until the pan is dry and vegetables tender.