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Home Life Kitchen Garden

Starting Over with Soup

Spring Soup
Spring Soup

LAKE MACBRIDE— One is ready to take on the world after a bowl of home made soup. In between projects, several things at home are de derigueur. Going through the refrigerator and pantry finding ingredients to make soup is one of them. A fresh start to new beginnings using preserved and aging vegetables.

A job, project or activity can distract us from our home life. Home becomes a camp— a place to return from doing other things. Making soup can be a way to clean up loose ends and refocus our energies for what is next. It is a re-centering on home life.

Making soup is also being frugal— picking from items reaching the end of their shelf life and using them for a warm meal. It is a reversal of consumerism and can be celebratory and reassuring. Most often, the results are delicious, especially when served with a slice of home baked bread.

Still tired from my last day of warehouse work, I made vegetable soup today. There was no recipe, but learned behaviors came into play. This post is intended to share some of the learning.

Put a half cup of water in the bottom of a Dutch oven and bring to a boil on high heat. Medium dice or slice a large onion, three or four small carrots and a couple of stalks of celery and add to the pot. Season with salt and pepper and a couple of bay leaves. This provides the basic flavor profile. (In our house, we add pepper when the meal is served so each person can get as much as they want).

Next, add fresh ingredients on hand. Today, it was potatoes starting to develop eyes, part of a zucchini, and baby Bok Choy leaves beginning to yellow. Peel and dice three or four potatoes, fine dice the stems of Bok Choy and add them to the pot. Grate the zucchini with a box grater and reserve along with 20 or so Bok Choy leaves. If there were other fresh vegetables on hand, I would use them. Note that soup is about using things up, not buying specific items especially for the dish.

In the freezer is my soup project. Throughout the year I collect the cut bottoms of asparagus stalks, broccoli stems, beet greens, spinach and a host of other odds and ends of garden vegetables to use in soup. It is how gardeners deal with their irregular and surplus produce. From the freezer I added bits of broccoli stalk, some finely sliced asparagus, and chopped greens of an undetermined nature (beet greens I think) to the pot.

Add a quart of home made stock if you have it and cover the vegetables with water. Bring to a boil on high heat and reduce to a steady simmer. Simmer until the vegetables are cooked through, add the zucchini and Bok Choy leaves and stir until the Bok Choy is wilted. Re-season and it is ready to serve, a fit luncheon for contemplating the future on a rainy afternoon.