Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Farmer's Market Soup

I love the idea of a Farmer's Market. I love the idea of going to an open air market early in the morning where fruits and vegetables are sold hours after they have been picked. No middle man, hopefully more organically grown than from the supermarket. You get to talk with the people who have had their hands in the soil, who know that this week their produce is at the peak of it's ripeness. It sounds great.

And every week, I do this walk of shame home wondering how am I missing the point? I try to set myself up for success. I avoid produce shopping at the end of the week in the hopes of stocking up at the market. But I never stock up when I get there! Maybe it is because I am so used to supermarket produce, I can't appreciate a superior carrot when I see it. Or maybe it is my lack of imagination when I go from stall to stall looking at the piles of multi-colored beets. It's August and I feel like I'm doing something wrong when I search for inspiration from this bevy of fresh food!

Last week I bought many items with the grand idea of roasting veggies. Let me preface this with whatever I originally plan on doing with a food item, I tend to blow off and do something completely different. I have grand scale dreams and a horrible lack of follow-through. I bought a zucchini, a yellow squash, a few candy onions and a bag of yellow and green beans. I was thinking I'd steam the beans like I always do and grill or roast the zucchini, squash and onions. That was the plan Saturday morning.

This is what actually happened. After a few days, the green beans were gathering moisture in their bag and started to scare me that they would rot before I got to serve them. I really wanted my kids to eat these veggies but I wasn't sure how. So, I went to Allrecipes.com and typed in green beans, zucchini and squash in the advance recipe search and found Jamie's Minestrone. Aha!

And that is the path I took. If you don't call this Minestrone or Farmer's Market soup, you can also call it "Empty the produce bin of your refridgerator" soup. On Monday, I started chopping veggies during the baby's nap. By the time the kids were off the camp bus, I had started sauteing the garlic and onions in the pot. Bing, bang, boom and dinner on the table at 5:30. (I should really say Yadda, Yadda, Yadda and we were all scraping our bowls with pieces of French bread. Start to finish it was an hour and a half. However, my sitter was watching the kids, so I had a rare moment of quiet in the kitchen to cook. That alone time always seems to fly.) It was a delicious soup that was enough to feed my whole family and a neighbor's family of 5. I'm sure it would be even better on a cold winter night instead of a really hot summer day, but there is no Farmer's Market in December, so you have to do the best you can with what you've got!

Feel free to improvise like I did based on Jamie's Minestrone. I felt the key to the great taste is adding the pasta to the bowl first, ladle the soup on top and then grate fresh Parmesan cheese before serving. It was delicious!

Lorna's Minestrone

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 onions, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 can of diced or crushed tomatoes
  • 3 cups tomato sauce
  • 1 cup canned white beans, drained
  • fresh green beans cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 cups baby spinach, rinsed
  • 1 zucchinis, quartered and sliced
  • 1 yellow squash, quartered and sliced
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil (thank you Julie for the basil plant!)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 box of macaroni
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese for topping


  1. In a large stock pot, over medium-low heat, heat olive oil and saute garlic for 2 to 3 minutes. Add onion and saute for 4 to 5 minutes. Add celery and carrots, saute for 1 to 2 minutes.
  2. Add chicken broth, diced/crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce, bring to boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to low and add beans, green beans, spinach leaves, zucchini, squash, oregano, basil, salt and pepper. Simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, the longer the better.
  3. Fill a medium saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Add macaroni and cook until tender. Drain water and set aside.
  4. Once pasta is cooked and soup is heated through place 2 tablespoons cooked pasta into individual serving bowls. Ladle soup on top of pasta and sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top.


Kim Moldofsky said...

Welcome to the blogosphere!

Quoting Grosse Bubbie in your second post, "you do the best youcan with what you've got"--what a nice way to honor her memory.

Thanks for listing me in your blogroll!

Also, you might like this cooking website by the very funny Julie Tilsner: http://www.badhomecooking.com/

Good luck!


also blogging at http://www.chicagomomsblog.com

Dee said...

I loved reading your blog! Now I'm hungry for stew. Can I use frozen vegetables so I won't have to chop?

Mrs. C said...

If I was making this soup in the winter, I would be using lots of frozen veggies. It also would be great in a bread bowl!

Kathleen said...

What do you mean there are no farmer's markets in December? Oh, that's right -- it actually gets cold where you live....K