Soup in Ten Steps

September 25th, 2010 / comments 4

In April every radish is a treasure, in May the appearance of spinach seedlings brings joy, in June it is delightful to create a salad of tender greens, in July the garden and the kitchen are in harmony, in August tomatoes and squash are overflowing, in September, apples, pears and plums appear along with school buses, and the CSA share that seemed modest in the spring is overwhelming.

veg bounty c egbert Soup in Ten Steps

Cucumbers and parsley are turning to slime in the bottom of the fridge, tomatoes are being passed back and forth between friends like fruitcake in December, zucchini and yellow squash are nearly the size of canoes and there is a bunch of rainbow chard lurking around every corner.

Whether you call it Vegetable Overload, Squash Surplus, Garden Glut, or CSA Bounty, it is imperative to have a strategy to survive this delightful dilemma. I suggest soup. Call it Empty the Refrigerator Soup, Wilted Vegetable Soup or Garden Delight Soup but don’t delay, it’s time to start chopping, sauteing, simmering, serving and storing soup.

I have a ten-step game plan that I follow whenever I make soup. The steps are the same whether I’m making a simple, pureed broccoli soup or a hearty vegetable soup. I adjust ingredients, quantities and proportions according to the contents of my fridge, my pantry, and also include vegetables that have been left in my unlocked car by generous friends. Here’s my soup game plan:

  1. Heat oil in stockpot
  2. Saute aromatic vegetables in oil in the stockpot until tender but not browned
  3. Add meat and cook until browned
  4. Add herbs and spices
  5. Add liquid
  6. Add vegetables and simmer until tender
  7. Puree (if desired)
  8. Add additional liquid to thin soup to desired consistency
  9. Adjust seasoning
  10. Serve with appropriate garnish

The oil can be butter, olive oil, grape seed oil, vegetable oil coconut or any combination, and should just coat the bottom of the pot. Onions, leeks, garlic, scallions, shallots, carrots and celery are all aromatic vegetables and any combination will work. Meat is optional, it may be ground, or cut in small pieces or one large piece that is be sliced when the soup is served. The liquid for Step 5 can be water, broth, or stock or a combination but, because it will be simmered to cook the vegetables and meat, it should not be a dairy product. The liquid in Step 8 can include cream, milk, sour cream, yogurt, or coconut milk. In Step 9, adjusting seasoning may mean adding a bit more salt or pepper or other more exotic flavors like a bit of bourbon, orange zest, lime juice, hot sauce, etc. Garnishes may be as simple as a thin slice of lemon or as luxurious as a chunk of lobster. Raw fish or shellfish can be added for the last five minutes of Step 6. Refrigerate or freeze leftover soup for another day.

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Potatoes & Peas from my Garden

July 15th, 2009 / comments 5

potato+plants Potatoes & Peas from my Garden

Like uncovering buried treasure, the perfect potatoes appear as I gently move the soil in the potato patch. They are new, very new, potatoes with skin so delicate it can be rubbed off as you wash them.

Harvest+01+potato peas Potatoes & Peas from my Garden

Steamed, seasoned with Celtic sea salt and pepper and tossed with butter…………mmmmm……..

Jersey Visit

June 19th, 2009 / Comments 1

Cow+in+the+Garden+copy Jersey Visit
I was working in my studio when Rosie began barking insistently. Assuming that the big brown truck had come to deliver the new grill for my Electrolux range I went down to check. No truck, no package, no people, and, Rosie was standing at the door to the terrace staring intently toward the weedy hill just past the garden.

‘Must be a deer or maybe turkeys.’ I thought. Following Rosie’s lead, except for the barking, I looked up at the hill and after a moment the sweet face of a Jersey cow munching weeds came into focus.
Cow, cows!
Four of them – two mamas and two calves, but how? we have no cows living within half a mile of us in any direction.
The only idea I had was to phone the non-emergency police number. I explained my predicament and the helpful police officer said “I’ll check my list of missing cows,” quickly followed by, “wait a minute, I don’t have a list of missing cows,” and then came the perfect Vermont question, “Are they bothering anyone?”
An hour later, a tractor arrived, the cows were liberated from the paddock where they had been welcomed and watered by our neighbor, Susan, and led away, back home, up the road, to rest, graze and share the the tales of their adventure with the rest of the herd.
Perhaps my postings about raw milk, yogurt, and butter were the real reason for their visit………
note: If you would like to read about how I used the magic of Photoshop to put the cow in the garden *click here*.

Radishes & Edible Fowers – First Harvest

June 9th, 2009 / Comments 1

After a wonderful day in Barre and Montpelier I couldn’t wait to share this photograph.

first+harvest+02 Radishes & Edible Fowers   First HarvestTuesday Evening

It’s dinner time, actually past dinner time, and I need to figure out what dinner will be, so I’ll fill in the details of today’s discoveries tomorrow.
Wednesday Morning

Dinner last night was a surprising and successful combination of the tiny harvest from my garden and delicious Vermont foods I found at LACE in Barre.

A bit of info about LACE before I spell out the details of dinner. LACE, an acronym for Local Agricultural Community Exchange, on Main Street in Barre, Vermont, is a non-profit organization established to promote food security by supporting local farms and connect them to their community.

Community Kitchen – A commercial kitchen where community members create value added products;
Learning Programs – offering classes in food, culture and agriculture;
Community Center – a place for cultural, educational and celebratory events;
Food Drives – providing farm fresh, Vermont food to people in need;
Fresh Cafe – offering locally grown foods prepared in a sustainable kitchen;
Fresh Market – providing Vermont made and produced natural foods and supplies.

What these details don’t convey is the friendly, inviting, thriving, community-centered business in the former Homer Fitts LACE is an example of the wonders of Vermont, make plans to go to Barre. Have lunch, buy arts and crafts created by Vermonters in the LACE Art Gallery, and shop for dinner. To read more about LACE visit their website by clicking here.

A curious but tasty meal with the following, carefully arranged, on a dinner plate: radishes and nasturtiums from my garden, the last of the yogurt cheese, a chunk of year old cheddar from the Grafton Village Cheese Company, tapenade with an extra splash of olive oil, a tiny bowl of Vermont honey, and thin slices of Four Grain and Three Seeds bread from the Red Hen Baking Company.

LACE was an unexpected treat, I went to Barre to deliver two oil painting to SPA Gallery, a part of Studio Place Arts, for their upcoming 12 x12 Show.

To see the paintings that I delivered click here.

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Dispatch from my Garden

May 26th, 2009 / Comments 0

Baby pictures taken in the garden are a sign that winter has gone.

delicata+0526+01 Dispatch from my Garden

Delicata Squash Twins

I couldn’t bring myself to cull one of these seedlings. I’ll let nature take its course, whatever that means.

tomato+0526+01 Dispatch from my Garden

Green Zebra Tomato

Small but feisty from Fat Rooster Farm.  I like to watch the plant grow, blossom and set tomatoes so I plant one tomato plant in my garden, but only one, because farmers do a much better job with them than I do.

peas+0526+01 Dispatch from my Garden
Sugar Snap Peas

I planted peas because I need almost instant gratification and peas are an early crop.  I choose Sugar Snap Peas because I wanted to eat the pods rather than put them on the compost pile.

radish+0526+01 Dispatch from my Garden


How can anyone resist planting radishes?  Twenty five days from seed to salad …. a no  brainer!

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