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Posts tagged “vegetables

Carrot Soup

Carrot Soup © Andor (1)

Soups have always been popular in the winter months. The trend may have started because people were trying to make use of the aging crops, harvested before the frigid weather arrived. Hardly anyone is a farmer anymore, yet the trend persists. Having grown a fair amount of carrots in the garden this year, I have been trying to use as much as possible before they go bad. I knew I wanted to make soup, but did not want it to be like the carrot soups I’ve had before. Half way through making dinner, it was still unclear what the finished bowl would be. Carrots? Yep. Bacon? No way can that be left out. Arugula? Well I bought it, better try to use it up. Noodles? Never have I made a soup with noodles and that’s not changing now… Let the carrots be the noodles? Yes, a good choice. The lima beans were an after thought. They were actually being prepared for another dish, which didn’t happen. But, they add a lot and I’m not sure this soup would be as good without that extra element. This can be made as a vegetarian soup pretty easily as well.

Serves 4 to 6.

Supplies Needed: An 8 quart soup pot, a strainer and a second pot(4+ quarts). Potato peeler. Knife and cutting board. Fry pan.

Ingredients:

For the Stock/Broth:

4-8 large carrots, ends removed and chopped in half.(Enough carrots to fill the soup pot a bit more than half way, after everything else is in it already.)
A chicken carcas(like the picked over remnants of a rotisserie chicken), or a large breast, or thigh without removing any meat.
1 large onion, halved
2-4 fresh garlic cloves
2 long sprigs of fresh thyme
2 bay leaves

For the Finished Soup:

6 medium sized carrots(figure one per person), shredded with a potato peeler, so as to make thin, noodle-like strips
half a pound of bacon
1 cups worth of arugula
1.5 cups of lima beans
half tsp of chili powder blend, or cajun spice blend
salt and pepper to taste
thyme leaves for garnish

To Cook:

Put the halved carrots, chicken, onion, garlic, bay leaves and thyme sprigs into Your pot. Adding enough water to submerge everything, plus a bit more. If Your pot is half full of ingredients, You’ll want to fill it three quarters full of water. You don’t want anything sticking out above the water… Bring this to a simmer and let it gently bubble for 4 or 5 hours, stirring occasionally. You’re done with this step when You can make mashed carrots with nothing more than a gentle touch. Let it cool a bit and strain the solids from the liquid. A 4 quart pot should be about the perfect size for the amount of liquid You have. Now is a good time to start frying the bacon in another pan. As You do that, bring the soup to a light boil and begin reducing it. Add the spices, salt and pepper and continue to boil until a third of the liquid has boiled off. Then, add the lima beans and continue to boil until they are cooked. Place the arugula and shredded carrots into bowls. Ladle in the soup and lima beans, the hot soup should be just enough to soften the thinly shredded carrots. Add the bacon and garnish with some thyme leaves. Time to eat!

Notes:

This can easily be made as a vegetarian soup. Simply replace the chicken bones with another veggie, or add more carrots. Then, skip adding bacon at the end…

If You’re using baby lima beans, You’ll want to add them a bit later. Because they are more tender and cook in less than half the time.

When reducing soup stock, the general rule of thumb is that You want to end up with half the amount of liquid You had after straining.

Roasting the bones in the oven/broiler before starting Your soup will help bring out the oils and flavor. Making for a slightly more robust end product. If You make this with a chicken breast, or thigh, a quick searing, at high heat in a fry pan will help accomplish the same thing. You don’t want to cook the meat, the intent is to help mature the final flavor.

Those who don’t like a bit of fattiness to their soup will want to make the stock a day before serving. Place it in the fridge over night and the fat will all solidify on top. Simply remove the fat layer and then proceed to reduce and finish the soup…

If You don’t think You’ll use all of it right away, remove some to freeze for later, before adding the lima beans and spices. Obviously, if doing so, You won’t need as much of the ingredients for the ‘finished soup.’

I served this with Port Chicken(recipe can be found on this blog) and peppercorn rice, the recipe for which is on this blog under one of My ‘cooking in the twilight hours’ posts. The meal was quite lovely! Except that I neglected to salt the soup, which My guests didn’t appreciate. Adding salt to the soup made all the difference…

Carrot Soup © Andor (2)

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Love at First Spite

This has not been a good year in the garden for Me.. Most of the food stuffs I planted, did not take very well. Unlike last year, we didn’t work any compost or peat moss into the raised beds. I think that, in combination with the nearly two month delay in the arrival of spring, immediately followed by several weeks of extreme heat, really set things back. The carrots and parsnips have been puny and pathetic. The peas and beans have grown in a rather lack-lustre manor and the peppers, bak choi, spinach and tomatoes have been a joke. Even My citrus trees suffered from the odd weather. I started putting them Outside once the temps at night seemed to stop going below 55 degrees. Only to have My older keifer lime and younger blood orange bitten by frost. Happily, both have bounced back very well. Unlike the apple tree, which openned most of it’s flowers in a beautiful display, on a day temps dippped into the 30s. Needless to say, at least 75% of the pottential bounty promptly died off. With such slim pickings, the squirrels, who usually get most the apples, have taken nearly all of them.

I planted two varities of tomatoes for 2012, a cherry type called Gardener’s Delight and Cherokee Purple, which is often compared to Brandywine, but with a more robust flavor. Both were started in planters, indoors, late in the winter as usual. Then, spring didn’t bother showing up and they started dying. So I planted another round and waited for the weather to start warming, but it didn’t. Seven weeks after the ‘normal’ planting time, and 5 weeks after starting the second round of tomatoes, I finally put some in the ground. I should have just sewn in seeds, but I planted the best looking of the seedlings I had growing, even though they were stunted from being in tiny starter planters for 5 weeks. After 2 weeks showing no signs of change, both varieties started growing! The first flowers did not appear until the end of June. Both plants grew to about 2 feet, kicked out about half a dozen flowers and are yeilding 3 to 6 tomatoes. They have stopped growing taller and aren’t really flowering. It’s sad… Last Year I grew a pair of Hybrid Zebra Cherry Tomatoes, which are a cross of green and red zebra stripe cherry tomatoes. They grew taller than Me, delivering 1200ish amazingly yummy little morsels. Needless to say, I am quite disappointed in this year’s crop. Then, the very day I was going to pick My three Cherokee Purples, some hateful little critter stole two of them! Leaving them, partially eaten, on the ground nearby. So My crop is a solitary, scarred tomato that grew to only half the size of a usual C. P.

And so, in the twilight hours of the last day in July, I partook in the suprizingly delicious little thing. I’m not really a tomato person.. I grow them, mostly, cause they are good for You. But this thing was really good! I however, did it no justice. With My stomach growling, I broke out some tortillas, cheese, spinach and some ‘pulled bbq chicken’ from a plastic tub. It was pretty good, for a 4am food excursion. While eating it, I just couldn’t help but feel like I should have made something, well, better.. I wasted the best tomato I’ve ever tasted, the single fruit of My months long labor, on a bit of pre-packaged, over sugar’ed, microwaved, remnants of meat. At least I ate some of the tomato and snapped a couple pictures before constructing dinner. If things go better next year and they give more bounty and viable seeds, I’ll grow these Cherokee Purple Tomatoes forever!