Friday, October 9, 2009

Norwood Food Co-op and Flexible Veggie Veggie Soup

The other day I was volunteering for my CSA (community supported agriculture) during pick-up time.  Being jobless these couple of months has afforded me the delightful opportunity to help almost every week in some way.  I have really enjoyed meeting new people and chatting about the beautiful produce.  I love being part of the CSA, not only because it supports the work of Norwich Meadows Farm and neighboring farms, but also because it forces me and my roommates to be creative with our cooking.  So as I sat there at pick-up, I started dreaming up what to make for dinner.  This is a favorite pastime of mine, especially when I have a full fridge!!  There were so many possibilities that afternoon, but since the weather was cool I decided I had to make soup.  When the weather gets cool, I slowly begin to rekindle the love I have for soup-making that always fizzles when the summer approaches.  I spent many evenings during my JVC experience making soup for community members and so the act is forever associated the kitchens I have known and loved from my past: 10 Romasco Lane in Portalnd and 7 Patten Street in Jamaica Plain.  From those experiences, I can assure you that homemade soup is not only good for your body and soul, but all that chopping is a definite cure for whatever ails you!

When I got home, I poured over some of my favorite cookbooks and finally settled on a vegetable soup from Mollie Katzen's Enchanted Broccoli Forest.  I love that her recipes are often flexible--you can substitute one thing for another if you like or even add in lots of extras.  Here is the biggest difference between cooking and baking; one is scientific (baking) and the other is a fluid art (cooking).  When I first started cooking, I thought I had to follow the recipe line by line.  Yet with practice I discovered what is most beautiful about cooking--almost nothing is written in stone, be creative!

Ok so getting back to the soup.  I began to chop and chop lots of veggies from the CSA and the farmer's market I had been to in the morning--carrots, pac choi, green beans, potatoes, tomatoes, onions, etc.  Everything was going smoothly as I dug into Mollie's recipe.  Then a big oops!  Her basic vegetable soup is a tomato based soup (as in, you need tomato juice and paste for it).  I hadn't read far enough along to see this important point.  Because I didn't have those ingredients, I made the base of the soup into veggie bullion since I had loads of bullion cubes on hand.  And in the end, I took one Mollie's suggestions for an add on:  I dropped a few eggs in for an egg drop soup feel.  The result was lovely and I have been enjoying it for a few days.  Below is what I am calling Flexible Veggie Veggie Soup, an adaptation of Mollie's Vegetable Soup recipe:

 -2 medium potatoes, scrubbed and diced--leave skin on
-1 medium-large onion, chopped
-2 stalks of celery
-1 large carrot, diced
-1 big handful of green beans, chopped
-6 cups water
-2 or 3 cubes of veggie bullion
-spices you like--I added rosemary and thyme and bay leaves
-3 ripe roma tomatoes (or any kind of tomatoes you find)
-6 garlic cloves, minced
-1/2 head of pac choic, chopped
-any kind of pepper laying around in the fridge, diced
-3 eggs, beaten

Note: Feel free to add any veggies you get from your CSA or those you have lying around!  As Mollie writes, you ought to add harder veggies first (potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, etc) and any softer veggies later (greens, peppers, zucchini, etc).  Leftover beans or grains or pasta would also be delicious--add these just before you eat the soup.

  • Put potatoes, onion, celery, carrot, green beans, and water in a big soup pot.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Add in the bullion and spices.  Lower the heat, stir, and simmer covered for about 20 minutes.
  • Add in the remaining veggies and the garlic and let simmer for about 10 more minutes.  Check the seasonings and adjust as needed--at this point if you need an extra veggie bullion cube or salt, pepper, or other spices, add them in!!
  • When everything tastes delicious and the vegetables soft enough, slowly drizzle in the beaten eggs while stirring.  
I love the way just a few little eggs bring new life to a long-time favorite soup and I hope you do too.  Enjoy!!

1 comment:

  1. the part in which you note, "you don't have to follow each recipe line by line" really spoke to me! i can say first hand the soup was DELICIOUS! :)