Autumn: Harvest time — Minestrone: Soup time
The autumn, in my opinion, is one of the most beautiful times of the year. It is a time for harvesting. It is a time when the hot days of summer are left behind us. That I appreciate very much. It’s a time to be indoors with the family, preparing wholesome meals. It is a time for reaping what we have sowed. A time for harvesting our produce whether we have a farm, a small patch in our backyard, a community garden, or like me just getting my produce at the organic farmers market. I’m GRATEFUL for this time of the year because it is also a time to harvest what Mother Nature has for us: apples, persimmons, pears, pumpkins, gourd and root vegetables. Those are the foods of America—our local foods.
Last Friday they had wonderful red leaf lettuce (I purchase eight heads a week), delicata squash, leeks, carrots, yams, turnips. Those were just a few of the vegetables in my basket. With those vegetables, I made a minestrone (recipe below). From the beginning, the plan was to make soup using these local vegetables. The soup turned out to be better than expected, which meant everyone loved it, and I had no leftovers. That’s a good thing! Well, not really for me; I had no leftovers. But the soup was a hit, so I ventured back to Boston’s Copley Farmers Market yesterday for more organic vegetables to make another batch of soup. Unfortunately, it was the last day at the farmers market. A few customers, like myself, we were sad that it was time to go back for produce shopping at the supermarket.
Farmers’ market season ends
Shopping at the farmers markets is one of the best sources for fresh produce aside from picking your vegetables from your garden. Every year from May through November before the cold of the winter in New England I shop for fresh produce for my family at the fresh local outdoor market. There I can find local and organic food that has grown within a 2- to a 3-hour driving distance from home. I make sure I don’t miss my local farmers markets—it’s good for the environment and us; besides it is important to support local farmers. On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays there are three local farmers markets near me. But it is autumn; Thanksgiving is tomorrow, which marks the closing of many farmers markets in Northern USA. That’s the sad part of the fall, and the happy one too since it marks the beginning of many celebrations. For me, all another reason to cater to friends and family.
This soup I will make all winter! It is hardy, satisfying; family approved, and best of all, the soup is simple and easy to make. Below is the recipe.
Enjoy and Happy Holidays!
1 medium-size turnip, wash well, trim ends, and dice
1 medium garnet yam or jewel yam, peel, and dice
1 cup diced butternut squash or pumpkin of choice
1 small leek, wash well and trim ends
1 medium carrot, peel and slice
1 Bay leaf
4 cups of water (reserve half a cup to mix with a vegetarian Consommé bouillon)
Consommé bouillon or salt and pepper to taste. My favorite seasoning these days is Seitenbacher Vegetarian Vegetable Broth and Seasoning.
A dash Harissa (optional) this is a Middle Eastern spice
1/2-cup elbow gluten-free macaroni or 1 cup cooked rice
• Cutting board
• Medium pot with lid, about 3 to 4 quarts
Wash all vegetables and trim ends. Peel carrots, pumpkin and yam. Chop leeks and carrots. Dice the yam and turnip into cubes. Except for the last three ingredients, place all ingredients in the pot. Boil water. Lower the stove’s burner heat to medium. Continue cooking for about 25 minutes. Lower heat. Add gluten-free elbow macaroni and cook at low heat for 15 minutes (add more water if necessary). Taste pasta. If it is “al dente,” (not too hard, but soft) it’s ready. When done, add the consommé bouillon. Adding salt-and-pepper to taste is optional, and might not be needed.
Tips: Serve in bowls and top with a dash of dulse seaweed flakes, or one teaspoon extra virgin olive oil, or diced shitake mushroom, or if you are like me, add it all.