Friday, October 2, 2009

Autumnal Soup

I thought I'd walk through how I make a soup, especially one as healthful and tasty as this one!

I was working from home yesterday, and Seattle has briskly turned from warm summery days to overcast, drizzle, and cool. Perfect soup weather!

I had bought a smoked ham hock from the lovely ranchers at Skagit River Ranch, who sell at my local farmer's market. I threw that in my 6 qt enameled cast-iron dutch oven (aka heavy pot), and covered it with water to begin simmering while I got to work.

When I make a giant soup, I usually start by emptying out my refrigerator of suitable produce, as evidenced below.

Yes, that is a LOT of vegetables, all from my CSA box over the last couple of weeks.

I got to work, and started cutting up stuff. Kale, chard, and beet greens were first up. Below is a picture showing them stuffing the pot, along with a small amount of "already open" onion, garlic, shallot, and a mild pepper I had hanging around.

I had to add more water, some salt, pepper, garlic Tabasco sauce, and a splash of white wine, and I covered the pot to continue simmering.

Below you can see my rock. I use it to smash things open, usually garlic or shallots. It's just a granite river rock I picked up in the mountains one day, but you can find such things at kitchen stores, too. I grew up with a rock. My mom still has it. I think she found it outdoors, too. It has worn even smoother from decades of use whacking at things. My favorite rock is still my mom's.

See the carnage to the right of the butternut squash? That was a small part of food waste that went into my building's food waste bin. In fact, I filled up a paper grocery bag with odds and ends of food waste! It is amazing and delightful to me that I can divert all that waste into Seattle's giant compost piles, and it will get reused as mulch and compost for city parks.

Ah... I added a few blue potatoes (from the CSA of course). You can see that the giant mass of kale and chard has cooked down considerably. I bet I used at least a couple of pounds' worth of vegetables. You can see the ham hock peeking through the pot, too. I added some more water before covering again.

After the potatoes pierced easily with a fork, I dumped in a final bowl of corn kernels (off two cobs), and baby bok choi. I turned off the heat and covered the pot for a few minutes. These two items cook extremely quickly, and I did not want to lose the sweetness of the raw corn.

Finally... here is my serving! Hearty and delightful. I promise, you won't even miss the grains. (Yes, there are two ears' worth of corn in here, but they are spread out over several bowls' worth of soup. This is more of an exercise in me cleaning out my fridge than anything else, and that small amount of fresh corn shouldn't cause stomach distress in most people).


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