Category Archives: Soup of the Week

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Harvest Minestrone Soup

Harvest Minestrone Soup

A good pot of soup, thrown together from a harvest of fall vegetables and herbs. In my last post, I promised a recipe. Here is how I created my tomato, veggie, and herb minestrone soup yesterday.

Mix together the following:

1 quart of quartered fresh tomatoes and juice or stewed tomatoes
1 cup of diced onion
cloves of one garlic, minced
3/4 cup chopped celery
3/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
1/2 medium radicchio chopped
1/2 cup chopped mixed garden herbs: oregano, thyme, sage, marjoram, savory, etc.
1 medium zucchini, sliced
2 tsp salt
1 can of light or dark red kidney beans, not drained
optional: pepper to taste
optional: throw in one chili pepper whole

Add water to almost cover if the tomato juice isn’t quite there. Heat to boiling over medium-high heat, reduce heat and simmer, covered until veggies are tender.

I was quite impressed by the flavor of this soup without having to add any vegetable bouillon, but save any leaves or onion tops, etc. for a future soup stock. This soup was delish sprinkled with a little bit of feta cheese.

The Plot Thickens Venison Stew

Farm Kitchen

Dear Reader:

I’m writing a novella. At first it was going to be a short story about a young woman who takes a farm internship in order to escape the mess that is her work- and love-life. Now it is ostensibly a novella about a young woman who takes a farm internship to escape said mess. And she meets a hot farmboy and falls inconveniently in love, of course, because this is a romantic comedy.

The problem is this: instead of the plot thickening nicely, like a stew, it is thinning into broth because I lack that crucial ingredient: conflict.

Well, there is some conflict, I guess. That would be “the mess that is her work- and love-life.” But that seems like backstory to me. Plotting it out in a Hero’s Journey kind of way, the first chapter includes the “Call to Adventure.” Great. But is it compelling? What, exactly, is my heroine’s quest? She’s not looking for love, though she finds it. She’s looking to escape and to regroup her resources, inner and outer.

And this brings me to theme. What is the lesson here? You can’t solve your problems by running from them? Or the opposite: sometimes you have to give up everything and start over from scratch?

I suppose a really smart writer would figure this out before typing that first “once upon a time” sentence. So what? I didn’t. Now I have to put my story on a back burner to stay warm while I go looking for thickeners, and that’s okay. It’s good weather for stew.

Since it is deer hunting season, how about venison stew? Even if you don’t don blaze orange and head out into the woods with your trusty rifle, you can buy venison from a deer farmer like Applegate Deer Farm in Newfield, Maine. You can also substitute beef. Or make it vegetarian with nice, chunky, dark mushrooms instead of meat and vegetable bouillon instead of the beef cubes. Enjoy!

Homegrown Carrots and Peppers

Here is a recipe for The Plot Thickens Venison Stew

2 lbs venison cubes
1 tsp. butter or lard
1 quart hot water
2 cups diced potatoes
1 cup diced turnips
1 cup diced carrots
1/2 cup diced parsnips (or more…I like parsnips!)
1 cup diced celery
1 diced green pepper
1/2 cup diced onion
1 tbs. salt
dash pepper
2 beef bouillon cubes
bay leaf

Seasoned flour: 1 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 tsp paprika

Roll meat in seasoned flour. Brown in hot fat in large pot. Cover with hot water. Simmer 2 hours on stove. Add remaining ingredients. Cook until veggies are tender, about 30 minutes.

Thicken by whisking together in a bowl 4 tbs. flour and 2 cups hot liquid from stew until no lumps (caution, very hot liquid!). Add back to stew pot. Delicious, thick, hearty soup. That was easy. Now, about that novella…

Soup of the Week–Peas Porridge Hot

Dear Reader:

I have no camera. I left it at my parents’ house over Christmas. I’m goin’ crazy without it. I like to take pictures of my everyday world and think up blog topics to match. Pretty pictures give a blog post a little bit of POP! that makes it more special. Today, unfortunately, we will just have to wing-it without visuals.

Luckily, I have a Soup of the Week to share with you. I call it Peas Porridge Hot after the nursery rhyme. Now, I know some of you absolutely hate pea soup. If so, this recipe is probably not for you. However, for those of you who just sorta don’t like pea soup, you may find this “pottage” not only tolerable, but possibly even enjoyable.

My husband tells a story about being made to eat pea soup as a child. Apparently neither he nor his two siblings ever did finish up their bowls despite much parental pressure. He was skeptical, to say the least, when I first tried this recipe, but to his surprise, he liked it!

There are two major differences between this pea soup and regular pea soup:

First, the peas are yellow instead of green. Now, there is probably no real difference in taste between the two, but color plays a big part in palatability. Small children (and some grownups) are suspicious of green food, Dr. Seuss and his green eggs aside. Here, though, we have yummy pea taste in a sunny yellow color. Color-cue alone may account for why my husband didn’t turn puce himself when he looked at his dinner the first time I served this thick, homemade bowl of deliciousness.

Second, I don’t use ham in the soup. Or bacon. Or any other pork-flavored product that is usually associated with pea soup. Without the smoky flavor of pig, the soup takes on a more delicate, carroty-onion character that no one would associate with bad childhood experiences at the table. It is even low-fat!

So, what makes it hot, you ask? Well, a thick soup like this tastes better served steaming from the pot. Eating it lukewarm is about as enjoyable as eating cold oatmeal. Also, I like to sprinkle some cayenne pepper (preferably a sea vegetable/cayenne mix) on top before I serve it or dice up a chili pepper to cook along with the onions and carrots and celery and dried peas in the chicken stock.

Peas Porridge Hot makes a warming, wonderful meal on a cold winter’s night. Try it with thick slices of homemade bread and warm apple crisp for dessert. I think you may be pleasurably surprised!

Peas Porridge Hot

1 1b. of dried split yellow peas
3 chicken bouillon cubes
1 large onion, quartered
3 carrots, peeled and cut into 2-3 inch pieces
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
chopped hot pepper to taste (optional)
8 cups of water
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
Maine Coast Sea Vegetables Organic Kelp with Cayenne granules (optional)

Put peas on a board or in a bowl and pick out anything that doesn’t belong. Rinse peas in a colander or put in bowl with water and swirl around, then drain.

In a large saucepan or pot, mix all the ingredients EXCEPT SALT, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. (I believe that salt makes the peas tough, so we only add it at the end of the cooking period.)

Reduce to a simmer and cook for an hour and fifteen minutes, stirring occassionally.

Remove from heat. Mash everything with a potato masher to desired consistency or for a less-textured soup, put through a food processor. Add salt. Serve in soup bowls. Sprinkle individually with sea veg/cayenne granules if desired.

This soup will thicken up considerably in the ‘fridge. You may want to add more water before heating leftovers. It really is like a porridge rather than a soup at this stage!

If you are very adventurous, you may want to add chopped dulse or some large bits of kelp to the bottom of the pot when you begin cooking. When the soup is ready, you can pull the kelp out with some tongs, chop it up and return it to the pot for added color and nutrients.

Sea veggies are full of minerals and, when cooked in a soup, don’t change the flavor in any noticeable way. It’s just a little Outside the Box addition for extra nutrition. (Dr. Seuss, I’m not!)

If you try this recipe, let me know how it turned out for you.

Soup of the Week–Tomato Bisque

Tomato-y Goodness

Dear Reader:

What is better than a bowl of hot, tomato soup on a snowy, winter day? When we forgo the canned stuff and make it from scratch, of course!

I made this tomato bisque last week, and it was so delicious! Now we are in the midst of a big ol’ snowstorm here in Maine, and I can’t stop thinking about making another large batch for tonight’s dinner.

If you would like to try this creamy, rich, thick, tomato-y soup for yourself, here is the recipe. It is a variation of a recipe I found in a book called FABULOUS SOUPS by Johna Blinn. I double the amount of tomatoes for a more sharp, distinct flavor which also happens to stretch the recipe AND makes it less calorie/fat dense. I also use chopped or grated onion instead of onion powder and add sea vegetable flakes in with the basil for added nutrients.

While the ideal would be to grow and jar our own tomatoes, canned tomatoes from your local market work almost as well. Also, if you know how to make your own beef bouillon from locally-grown beef, you could use that instead of processed bouillon cubes.

Add in the butter and milk from a local farm, and sea vegetables from Maine Coast Sea Vegetables, locally grown and dried basil, local honey instead of sugar, and you can have pretty close to a locavore meal!

OLD FASHIONED TOMATO BISQUE

4 (1 lb) jars/cans diced tomatoes
2 beef bouillon cubes
1 tbs. sugar
2 tsp. salt
one small to medium onion, chopped or grated
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried sea vegetable flakes (dulse works well)
1/4 tsp white pepper
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
4 cups milk (I like whole milk from the farm but calorie/fat conscious people could use skim)

1. Combine tomatoes with liquid in a large saucepan with bouillon cubes, sugar, salt, onion, basil, sea veggies, pepper and bay leaves. Simmer thirty minutes.

2. Remove bay leaves and put the mixture through a food mill or blender.

3. Melt butter; blend in flour until smooth.

4. Gradually stir in milk over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil. Remove from heat.

5. Gradually blend in tomato mixture, stirring briskly. Return to heat, stir until hot. Serve.

For the ultimate cold-weather comfort meal, serve with melty grilled cheese sandwiches. (Reubens/Rachels with their hearty rye bread also go nicely with the soup. My friend,Sandy, uses one of those grill pans with the raised lines on the bottom to make her signature Rachels. As an added bonus, these sandwiches incorporate sauerkraut which is loaded with vitamin C to help beat back the winter colds and flu bugs.)

If you decide to make the soup, drop me a line Outside the Box to let me know how it turned out.