Soup says farewell to the winter pantry
It’s April. Loons and robins have returned. A few mornings ago we woke to a couple inches of spring snow, which melted by the end of the day.
What’s in your winter pantry? Maybe last year’s carrots, potatoes and onions?
What’s stored in your freezer? Cauliflower from the farmers’ market, greens from a friend’s garden, summer beans?
Each summer and fall, we pack the freezer full with produce harvested fresh from the garden, farm stand or farmers’ market. During the cold part of the year when local produce is limited, frozen veggies are a better choice than the “fresh” ones that come all the way from California or even farther away, like Mexico and South America. When fruits and vegetables are frozen soon after harvest, their flavor and nutrients are locked in.
When so-called ‘fresh’ vegetables sit in storage and travel long distances, both nutrients and flavor diminish. This is why summer local produce tastes so much better and has more nutrients.
Now it is time to use up what’s left of last year’s stores, and get ready for the warmth and fresh produce of May. It will be a while yet before fields and gardens produce their bounty.
Frozen produce is great in all types of dishes — skillets, casseroles, pasta dishes. Frozen fruit can be stirred into delicious desserts: pies, cobblers, crisps, cakes, breads and muffins.
But when the weather is rainy, damp, dreary and cold, it’s time for soup!
Mom’s Cauliflower soup with Egg Drop Noodles
6 cups water
1 chicken thigh (or backs, or wings)
1 teaspoon salt
Few grains allspice
1 bay leaf
1 small carrot (or half large)
1 small parsnip
Piece of leek
Piece of celery root or 1 stalk celery, cut up
About 6 cups frozen cauliflower florets
1 Tablespoon flour
Few drops milk or water (if needed)
1 cup fresh minced parsley
1/4 cup sour cream
Place water, chicken thigh, salt, allspice and bay leaf in soup kettle. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to simmer.
While the above is cooking, prepare the vegetables (carrot, parsnip, leek, celery) and add.
Simmer 30 to 40 minutes.
Add cauliflower, and simmer 20 to 30 minutes longer.
Remove from heat and cool slightly.
Dice vegetables and cauliflower; remove meat from bones and cut up; remove allspice and bay leaf (if you can find them). Taste, and add more salt if needed.
Return vegetables and meat to pot. Mash coarsely with potato masher.
Make egg drop noodles:
In a large mug, beat 1 egg with 1 Tablespoon flour. It should be a very thick liquid — still pourable — like the consistency of pancake dough or honey or sour cream.
Return the soup to a rolling boil. Pour the dough from the mug in a thin stream into the boiling soup. Cover, reduce heat to simmer for a few minutes, then turn off heat.
Garnish with fresh chopped parsley and a little sour cream, if desired.
Winter Carrot Ginger Soup
1 Tablespoon butter
1 large onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons fresh chopped ginger
2 teaspoons fresh chopped garlic (1 good sized clove)
1 pound carrots
2 or 3 stalks celery, sliced
1 potato, diced (peeling optional)
2 cups chicken (or vegetable) broth
1 cup apple cider (optional)
1 cup milk
2 Tablespoons flour
For garnish: sour cream and chives, parsley or nuts
Melt butter in soup kettle. Peel and dice the onion, add, sprinkle with salt, and cook on low burner until translucent.
Peel garlic and ginger; mince fine, and add to the onions in the stock pot. Chop or rate carrots and add, along with the celery and diced potato. Continue cooking about 5 more minutes, then add broth and cider. Simmer until vegetables are tender.
In a pint jar, shake the milk and flour. Stir into the soup, turn up the heat and cook, stirring, until it returns to a boil; then reduce the heat and simmer 5 to 10 more minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings, if needed. For a creamy soup, cool, then puree in blender or use an immersion blender. Serve in bowls with dollops of sour cream or yogurt, garnished with fresh minced chives, fresh chopped parsley, chopped apple or toasted walnuts.
Serves 2 to 3.
Author of the award-winning cookbook “Garden Gourmet: Fresh & Fabulous Meals from your Garden, CSA or Farmers’ Market,” Yvona Fast lives in Lake Clear and has two passions: cooking and writing.
She can be found at www.yvonafast.com and reached at email@example.com or on Facebook at Words Are My World.