The soups keep coming! Using our garden harvest we have just tasted our third soup. This time the 5th grade made a borscht. They named it Bernie’s Borscht after a certain Presidential candidate! We have also harvested what may be our last round of lettuce from our south facing garden beds that are along our school wall. But, with this warm weather we’ve been having, you never know what could sprout up. Back to readying the gardens for next year! Oh, and some garlic planting. Keenan Haley, Teacher, Sharon Elementary School, Sharon, VT
This is the start of soup season at my house. Soups are comforting and can be super easy, like this amazingly delicious 3 ingredient soup (there are 3 main ingredients, but there are some spices and cider that you’ll need, too).
The original recipe is from Ina Garten, but I’ve made a few adjustments to reduce the spice level. A trick I use to make this a 15 minute soup is to pre-cook the squash. When I have too many squash rolling around the kitchen counter (CSA share back log, irresistible sale at the farm stand, garden abundance, etc.), I cook all the squash at once and then freeze what I don’t need. That way I can just pull the pre-cooked squash from the freezer and add it right into the soup.
(Easy tip for cooking winter squash and pumpkins: Cut whole squash in half, scrape out the seeds and place cut side down on a baking sheet (lined with foil if you want to make clean up really easy). Add a little water to the pan and cook in pre-heated 350 degree oven until tender. Scoop flesh from the skin and freeze in pre-portioned amounts.)
Curried Squash and Apple Soup
courtesy of Ina Garten, The Food Network
2 Tbsp each butter & olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
1 large butternut squash, peeled, cleaned, and cubed
2 apples, peeled, cored and chopped
1/2 -1 tsp curry powder (adds heat & flavor)
1 1/2 tsp Garam masala
1 tsp salt
1 cup apple cider, juice, or water
(Garam masala is a traditional Indian blend of spices including clove, cinnamon, pepper, cumin, and cardamon. You can find it in most grocery stores or co-ops.)
Add squash, apple, salt, Garam masala, cider or water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and cook over low heat for 20-30 minutes or until very tender.
Remove from heat. Puree with blender, food processor, or immersion blender. Return to heat and thin with cider to desired thickness. Serve and enjoy!
Memorial Day weekend is supposed to be the kick-off of summer. Sun. Gardening. Grilling. Relaxing at the lake.
Yet the weather around here looks cool and rainy. So I might trade in my plans to break out the grill and instead, huddle over a big pot of warm soup – because I will not be turning my heat back on, no matter how cold it might get. It’s almost June!
Depressing, yes. On the other hand, I’m a little excited to make a pot of ramp and potato soup. It’s a variation on leek and potato, but to me, it just has a fresher taste. Despite the weather, it kind of really invokes spring. Though at this point – shouldn’t we be thinking of summer
Hilary Adams and I made a pot of this soup at the Asa Bloomer building in downtown Rutland last week, as the second culinary event in the Real Rutland series. We actually threw in a number of different alliums (onion and garlic family members) in the pot, including garlic greens, yellow onions, shallots, and chives. Then we whipped up a garlic green pesto. Thanks to all who stopped by to talk with us and try these delicious local foods.
Ramp and Potato Soup
Many recipes will call for milk and/or cream as the liquid in a leek and potato soup. This doesn’t really work when you have dairy issues, like me. Of course, you could try a non-dairy milk. Coconut is often a route I take with soup. But I think the potatoes, and addition of a little yogurt, make this creamy enough without the extra fat. But use whichever you prefer.
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 3 cups sliced and washed ramps, or any combination of your favorite alliums
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 cups potatoes, roughly chopped
- 1 large, sweet onion, chopped
- fresh thyme
- 1 1/2 tsp salt, plus more to taste
- 6 cups water or broth
- 1 cup Greek yogurt
- A small bunch of chives, chopped
Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions and let sweat, about 5 minutes. Add in the garlic, ramps or other alliums, some salt and let cook for another 8-10 minutes. Pour in your liquid of choice, the potatoes, thyme, and a little more salt. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
With an immersion blender, puree the soup until almost smooth. Alternatively, very carefully transfer slightly cooled soup in batches a blender. Stir in the yogurt. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Serve in bowls, topped with the chives and some crusty bread on the side.
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.
- 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
- 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. 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. 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. 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.
- Feel free to customize this soup with your favorite veggies!
- Adapted from the Smokey House Center in Danby, VT
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.
- 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)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- (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.
- Add in the remaining corn kernels, the tomato and the milk. Simmer another 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
- 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
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.
Friends often ask me how I find the time to cook so much. While I get paid to do so at times, I also make it a priority in my non-work life. That is, when I can actually distinguish the two. Some people spend their evenings at the gym or the pub. I usually spend them in my kitchen. But here’s the thing – I probably cook way less than they imagine.
When I cook, I almost always make meals that go further than just one occasion. I embrace leftovers and usually get at least a lunch or second dinner out of each meal. You might find me almost always enjoying a home cooked meal, but that doesn’t mean I cook up something new every single day.
Soup is the perfect example of winter cooking that really stretches itself during the week. Even if it’s just me I’m cooking dinner for, I’ll make a big pot of soup anyway. If for some reason I realize I won’t finish it all within a few days, I just freeze it. Soup freezes great and will defrost in no time. I’d rather make more than necessary to have ready to go than scramble on busier nights or opt to eat out more often than I can actually afford.
While beef and barley is the classic soup combo, I had some ground sausage hanging out in the freezer and figured it would work just as well. If you have beef, certainly use that here, instead. I started the soup, as most soups start, by browning onions, carrots, garlic and herbs in olive oil. These are the aromatics.
I added the sausage and broke it up with a wooden spoon, letting it cook until browned.
Next, I added the barley, letting it sauté for a minute or two. I think barley is excellent in soup. It doesn’t turn mushy or puff up like how most other grains or pasta. Barley maintains a nice chewy texture and adds some heartiness. Try subbing it for other grains in your favorite soups or those soups needing something to make them more filling.
Then in went the liquids – broth and crushed tomatoes. I used vegetable broth I already had opened, but beef broth would work too. I also found a couple of turnips hanging out in the fridge that I decided to add in as well. That’s what I love about soups. You really can add in a little of anything. It’s the perfect way to clean up those odds and ends you might have accumulated.
After letting the soup simmer a good 30 minutes, I mixed in a few cups of spinach. It’ll cook down a ton, as I always seem surprised to find, so don’t worry if it seems like too much at first. Then, the soup just needed a few minutes more for the spinach to wilt. Before serving, I added a splash of lemon juice for brightness and salt and pepper as needed. Adding acidity like citrus or vinegar at the end of a soup will help bring out the flavors and add a level of freshness.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 carrots, diced
- 1 onion, sliced
- 3 sprigs thyme
- 1/2 lb ground sausage
- 14 1/2 ounces crushed tomatoes
- 6 cups of your favorite broth
- 2 turnips, diced
- 1 cup pearled barley
- 5 cups spinach
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- salt and pepper, to taste
- In a large stockpot, heat the oil over medium high heat. When hot, add the garlic, onion, carrots and thyme. Season with salt and pepper.
- Cook, stirring occasionally until vegetables start to brown and become tender, about 7 minutes or so.
- Add in the ground sausage and break up with a wooden spoon. Let start to brown for about 5 minutes.
- Stir in the barley and let cook for a couple of minutes.
- Next, pour in the tomatoes, broth, and turnip. Bring to a boil and then lower heat to a simmer and cook about 30 minutes until the barley and turnips are tender.
- A couple minutes before serving, stir in the spinach. Let it wilt, then add the lemon juice. Taste and adjust seasoning.
From Nancy, the Farmer-in-Residence
Fall is when I head back to the kitchen after a summer of grilling everything – to roast, bake, and stew the largess of summer fruits and veggies. Here are few of my tried-and-true crowd pleasers.
Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
courtesy of Ina Garten, yields 4-6 servings
3 to 4 pounds butternut squash, peeled and seeded
2 yellow onions
2 McIntosh apples, peeled and cored
3 tablespoons good olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 to 4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
1/2 teaspoon good curry powder
Cut the butternut squash, onions, and apples into 1-inch cubes. Place them on a sheet pan and toss them with the olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Divide the squash mixture between 2 sheet pans and spread in a single layer. Roast for 35 to 45 minutes, tossing occasionally, until very tender. Meanwhile, heat the chicken stock to a simmer. When the vegetables are done add some of the chicken stock and coarsely puree in food processor, blender, or immersion blender. When all of the vegetables are processed, place them in a large pot and add enough chicken stock to make a thick soup. Add the curry powder, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Taste for seasonings to be sure there’s enough salt and pepper to bring out the curry flavor. Reheat and serve hot. Top with flaked sweetened coconut or lightly toasted and chopped salted cashews to add a little pizzazz.
Vegan Creamy Roasted Parsnip Soup
courtesy of In Pursuit of More
1 large sweet onion, chopped
3-4 large whole garlic cloves, unpeeled
2-3 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 pound parsnips, about 6 small parsnips, washed and chopped
4 cups chopped red potatoes, about 3 large potatoes
4 cups veggie stock
1/2 cup cashews
2 cups water
1 tablespoon salt, or to taste
2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
Fresh pepper, parsley, and minced red pepper to garnish
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Wash and chop the parsnips, and combine with the onion and the whole unpeeled garlic cloves in a mixing bowl. Toss the veggies with the olive oil, cumin, and salt, and place in a large rimmed baking pan. Toss the pan in the oven and roast the veggies until fragrant and browning, about 30 minutes.
While the veggies roast in the oven, combine the vegetable stock and chopped potatoes in a soup pot. Heat to a gentle boil and cook gently until the potatoes are nice and soft, about 10 to 15 minutes. Turn the heat off once the potatoes are soft and leave the pot until the rest of the ingredients are ready. Once the roasted veggies are done, remove them from the oven and carefully free the garlic cloves from the skins. When cool enough to handle, combine the roasted veggies and potato stock mixture in batches and blend each batch until smooth. Combine the blended batches into another large pot as you go. Keep going until all of the soup is pureed to a smooth consistency.
Turkey and Stuffin’ Soup
- 4-6 cups leftover stuffing
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
- Leftover carrots, chopped
- 2 ribs celery, chopped
- 1 onion, chopped
- Salt and pepper
- 1 bay leaf, fresh or dried
- 2 quarts turkey stock
- 1 1/2 pounds light and dark turkey meat, diced
- A handful of flat leaf parsley leaves, chopped
- 1 cup leftover prepared peas, (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350°F and transfer stuffing into a small baking dish. Place dish in oven and reheat 12-15 minutes, until warmed through.
- Heat a pot over moderate heat and add EVOO. Add carrots. Add celery and onion and lightly season vegetables with salt and pepper. Add bay leaf and stock and bring liquid to a boil by raising heat. Add turkey and reduce heat to simmer. Simmer about 10 minutes. Stir in the parsley, and peas, if using.
- Remove stuffing from oven. Using an ice cream scoop, place a healthy scoop of stuffing in the center of a soup bowl. Ladle soup around stuffing ball. Your soup will look like a chunky matzo ball soup. Pull spoonfuls of stuffing away as you eat through your bowl of soup.
As with the start of every September in Vermont, the warm days of summer are quickly transitioning into cool fall breezes. But before summer is completely behind us, let’s take the time to enjoy a refreshing bowl of chilled soup.
Last week I found myself with a small stockpile of the last of my garden’s cucumbers. Some were a little overripe, while others were small and not the most attractive. To say the least, they were imperfect and that made them a poor choice for pickles.
What does one do with so many cucumbers, if not make pickles? They don’t store for long and they don’t freeze. We don’t really cook them here either. People think having too much zucchini is a problem, but at least you have options there. Cucumbers on the other hand, need some creativity and quick.
Who knew that pureeing cucumbers in the food processor with yogurt and herbs leads to one fast, tasty soup? Usually chilled soups – aside from strawberry – don’t do much for me. But I think it was the balance of mint and jalapeno that won me over with this one. That, and my favorite Greek yogurt from Green Mountain Creamery, perhaps. It adds a hefty amount of protein and makes this soup a reasonable meal, at least from a nutritional perspective. From a filling perspective, you might want to supplement with a slice of bread.
You should consider the recipe below as a base. Puree it together, taste, then take it wherever you want to go. I increased the mint, sugar and jalapeno quite a bit, but realize that’s not everyone’s taste.
When it’s to your liking, be sure to top with plenty of the simple salsa then take your bowl and head out to bask in the last of the warm summer sun.
- For the soup:
- 2 lbs cucumbers, peeled and seeded
- 2 cups Greek yogurt
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded
- mint leaves, about 4 sprigs worth
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1 cup water, as needed
- For the salsa:
- 1/2 red onion, chopped
- 1 lb tomatoes, chopped
- A small bunch of parsley, chopped
- A splash of lemon or lime juice
- Combine the peeled and seeded cucumbers in a food processor with the yogurt, garlic, jalapeno, mint leaves, sugar and salt. Pulse until smooth, adding in water as or if needed. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking with additional salt, sugar, mint, jalapeno or garlic, as needed.
- In a small bowl make the salsa by tossing the chopped tomato, onion and parsley with the citrus juice. Season with salt to your liking.
- Serve the cucumber soup in bowls topped with with the salsa.