In my mind there are few greater joys in life than being able to grow your own food. Not only is it envonmentally sustainable and fiscally responsible, it's also supremely delicious. Some of my fondest memories as a child are working with my mother in her gardens.
That is, if working was pestering her non-stop and probably being more of a hassle than I was help.
Nevertheless, she always managed to turn out some seriously amazing food - strawberries, raspberries, fresh herbs, and all sorts of delights. Sadly, since moving out of my parents house I haven't lived in one area long enough to really attempt growing anything myself. When we lived in California I made a valiant effort to get some herbs and tomatoes growing, but a dense fog-cover for nearly the entire growing season isn't exactly conducive to bumper crops. By the time the tomatoes had started producing they were already overtaken by the blight.
Since marrying though, I've had the opportunity to sneak into my husband's grandfather's garden on a few occasions and make off with some tasty treats. Last season I missed the majority of the crops, but still managed snag some sexy green tomatoes for fried green tomatoes.
This season I was just in time for a bevy of beautiful delights - the first tomatoes (devoured in a caprese salad last night), the first zucchini (fried up with chiles along side some shredded pork tacos), and nearly two pounds of gorgeous, snappy string beans.
The heat forced us inside while harvesting, but after tasting these beauties I'm thinking I could've risked some heat stroke to get a few more.
Because we're going to be moving soon I didn't portion them out and freeze them. I'd thought about pickling some, but then I couldn't find fresh dill in any of the grocery stores around here. So I made soup.
Delicious, fresh, herby, verdant soup that rocked our socks off. It's like you can taste the summer. I made the basil-butter to step it up a notch for the husband, but I drizzled a couple drops of white truffle oil over mine and was in seventh heaven.
I will note that this soup would probably not be nearly as good if the produce wasn't so fresh. If you have a garden, utilize some of your vegetables. If you don't, look for produce at a farmer's market or produce stand. As with any recipe, and especially one as simple as this, the final taste relies completely on the quality of the ingredients used.
Hopefully one day I'll have my own garden to harvest, but until then I'll have to continue pestering my grandparents-in-law for theirs. What about you? Do already garden or are you like me and have a desire to but a lack of stability or space? If you could what would you grow? I'm thinking I'll use your suggestions for planting my future garden. Let me know in the comments below.
Cream of Garden Vegetable Soup with Basil Butter
1 tablespoon butter
1 large shallot, sliced
4 oz young carrots, chopped
1 medium zucchini, chopped
1 ½ lbs. fresh green beans, snapped
4 cups chicken stock
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup heavy cream
¼ cup butter, at room temperature
½ cup basil leaves, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
In a heavy bottomed soup pot melt the butter over medium-high heat. Cook the shallot until softened and fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the carrots and zucchini and cook until slightly browned, about 3 minutes. Add the green beans and toss. Cook until beginning to soften, reducing heat if browning too much. Pour in the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Cover and cook for 15 minutes or until softened. Remove from heat and puree with an immersion blender. Stir in the heavy cream and season to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Meanwhile, blend together the butter, basil and garlic. Serve the soup with a dollop of the basil-butter on the side to add at one’s own discretion.
Note: This recipe could easily be made vegetarian by substituting vegetable stock, or vegan by substituting vegetable stock and blended silken tofu for the cream and omitting the basil-butter.
This is a nutritional estimate, regard it as such.
1 serving = 2 cups
- 150 calories
- 16 g carbohydrate
- 7 g fat
- 8 g protein