soup garden 'o9

digit(ID/WA)December 26, 2008

On the Merry Christmas thread, Margaret was talking about celery, winter squash and fennel. I'd like to add to the idea that these things are really good for soup.

Well, I don't know that about fennel. I grew Florence fennel a couple of years ago and hadn't a clue what to do with it. Licorice is a favorite flavor but for soup!?? Did I really miss the boat on that one? Heck, it grew well!

Just as kind of an aside, I grew sweet fennel the last 2 years. The 1st year, I tried the foliage as tea - nope, not for me! It didn't seem to set seed altho' the plants bloomed during the final weeks of the growing season. Nevertheless, the sweet fennel volunteered this year and where it wasn't in the way, I left it thinking that I could try the seeds in the kitchen and in tea. It never bloomed!!

Okay, celery was in my garden years and years ago. It didn't do well at all. Since then, I've tried an Asian leaf celery - that was okay. And, I began growing celeriac a few years ago. Now, that one is a FAVORITE!! Yep, you can't beat the starchy, celery flavor in mashed potatoes or soup!

Winter squash used in soup? You betchya!! It is very, very easy to sautsome onions, add to chicken stock, drop in diced squash and cook. After the squash has softened, everything can go in the blender, add cream and reheat. Served with seasoned croutons, it's popular around here.

Milehighgirl told us recently about purslane use in the kitchen. I'm wondering about adding it to soup. Sorrel used to grow in my garden. I sampled the leaves and enjoyed the taste but did I make a mistake by beating the daylights out of this weed - should I have allowed it to grow and maybe even planted a domestic variety for soup?

IT'S SOUP!!! What's goin' on in your kitchen and what are you planning for the "soup garden" in 'o9!?


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I'm still squeamish about growing veggies up here!! The tomatoes worked great last year, this year they were kind of flavorless. If I do add new veggies it will be chard. My neighbor grows chard here and I'm thinking I can too. I love chard in my soups as it gives such a hearty flavor. If I'm really brave, I'll try parsnips.

If only someone (other than me) would make me a cold frame!!

    Bookmark   December 26, 2008 at 2:36PM
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Parsnips? I'm not sure. They take a long, long time growing in my garden. No doubt, greens would be a way to go, J!

(I won't go into the subject of Asian greens again . . . just yet. ;o)

If flowering and fruiting prove difficult because of cool temperatures - leafy greens may be able to come to the rescue. Besides chard, I can recommend perpetual spinach. Let's see, I think the British call it "spinach beet" and it is a close relative of beets and chard. And then, there are beets, too.

Borsch! I'm not experienced enuf with that one. The dollop of sour cream would be nice. Who was it that told me white beets cook up grey . . . so that isn't an appealing alternative to purple soup. But, there are yellow beets - the Yellowstone variety grew nicely for me in 'o8 but it was mostly there to try to lure DW into beet eating . . . didn't work.

Spinach imitators and spinach itself - Spinach in soup reminds me for some reason of the seaweed soup I used to get as a kid at the Chinese restaurant. For some reason, I really liked the stuff.

Back to the roots: I've wondered about salsify . . . and how many of us have actually eaten this root? Supposed to taste like oysters - I should like it!

There are all sorts of salsify up here growing wild. In fact, there's a hybrid of two of the European weeds that was named for Moscow, Idaho - how 'bout that? I wonder if the roots of the weeds taste good . . .

You know, I never have much of an idea the direction these threads will take . . .


    Bookmark   December 27, 2008 at 12:26AM
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windwhipped(Z4 WY)

Just bought a new cookbook - all soups. Here is one for spring/early summer:

Sweet Green Pea Soup with Fresh Mint

3 tbls salted butter
1 1/2 c. chopped spring onions
1 bulb fennel (just for you, digit!)
2 whole cloves garlic, peeled
2 yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced small
6 c. chicken stock
2 pkgs (16 oz. each) frozen peas - OR FRESH
1/4 c. julienned fresh mint leaves, plus add. for garnish
1 c. heavy cream
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper to taste
Creme fraiche (or sour cream) for garnish

In a stockpot melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onions, fennel, garlic, and potatoes and saute for 15 minutes. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, cover pot, cook until the potatoes are soft and tender, 30-35 mins. Remove from heat. Add the peas and mint leaves. Puree the soup until smooth. Add the cream, Worcest. sauce, salt and pepper. Puree once again until completely blended. Return the soup to stove and cook an additional 5 mins. Garnish with a dollop of creme fraiche and a pinch of mint leaves. Makes 8-10 servings.

Book also has many other great sounding soups for veggie gardeners:

Eggplant Parmesan soup
Indonesian Carrot soup
Farmer's Root veg. Soup (onion, celery, fennel, carrots, yams, parsnips, turnips, celeriac)
Late Summer Raspberry-Nectarine Gazpacho
Roasted Peach and Brown Sugar Soup
Roasted Tomato and Rice Soup
Spicy Chickpea and Butternut Squash Soup
Spinach and Zucchini Bisque with Roasted Leeks.
and many more...

New England Soup Factory Cookbook by Marjorie Druker. Check your local libraries.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2008 at 2:38PM
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Yams!! Well, Sweet Potatoes!!

Maybe not for JCLePine (maybe not for WindWhipped, either - whaddya think?) but Dad grew what I thought were 'just fine' Georgia Jets in his garden one year. Dad grew up in Las Cruces and his family grew sweet potatoes. So, the little Georgia Jets didn't impress him.

There's a link to a roasted veggie soup recipe below. I often put bones in the oven to roast before using them to make broth. It makes so much sense to put the veggies in there with them for awhile.

Peas are peas . . . A Green Arrow shell pea that's gone a little starchy and a dry split pea - same thing, almost. I grew Alaska peas this year to dry. However, the weevils got to 'em before I did. Darn things! That's happened before!!

May as well just freeze the peas fresh and use for soup that way.

(Acres of chickpeas grown in this country now . . . uh, some peas are garbanzos)


Here is a link that might be useful: Cook Sister's Roasted root vegetable soup

    Bookmark   December 27, 2008 at 5:10PM
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I grew salisfy many years ago here and I couldn't get my husband to eat them. Sort of like a watery Jerusalem Artichoke. So decided not to grow anymore. Of course he won't eat many of the things I like to try! The Italians cook the bulb of fennel sliced with onions and carrots slowly with a little water. I would eat that but he sure wouldn't. He won't eat salad if I put a little sorrel in it either!

    Bookmark   December 27, 2008 at 8:43PM
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I never knew what salsify was until I picked up a veggie cookbook/encyclopedia a few, at least ten years ago. It has some nice recipes, several of which contain odd veggies: salsify, Jeruselem artichoke, sponge, marrow (which turned out to be just zuccinni), chicory, some other roots I've forgotten, sea pickle and a ton of other stuff I'll probably never use! Easy to replace that stuff with more familiar veggies, though.

No parsnips? Oh, poo!! That is alright, our local co-op always has nice parsnips. I might try that secret-agent veggie masquerading as spinach, though. Or, knowing me, I'll try chard and leave it at that.

Luckily, Darren will eat anything!!

I had a soup book once. I think I gave it to my old library because each and every recipe called for pork fat or ham, it was an older book. I don't really like ham or pork. Sometimes I think of getting a more my style soup book but I am such a natural when it comes to making soup and I am also addicted to pulling recipes off the internet.

I was talking to my dad on the phone Christmas day and he usually turns the conversation to food. We both agreed that the internet makes it too easy to ever need to buy a recipe book again. I would like that Pie in the Sky book, though!!!

    Bookmark   December 27, 2008 at 9:23PM
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highalttransplant(z 5 Western CO)

Well, soup is one of my favorite things to cook, (last night I made Bean and Ham soup, and Christmas Eve I made an Italian Sausage and Tortellini Soup), but the only things in my garden that I've used for soups, other than herbs, are carrots, onions, and tomatoes. I'd love to try growing potatoes, parsnips or celery, if I could only find a place to put them. 60 sq.ft. gets full in a hurry!

Margaret, I know how you feel! My DH is STRICTLY a meat and potatoes guy, though I did use store bought parsnips in a recipe once, and he thought they were potatoes, so he ate them, LOL!

J., that Pie in the Sky book is on my wishlist too! I could have used it tonight. I made a Corn and Ham Souffle to use up some of the leftover ham, and it was beautiful when I pulled it out of the oven. Looked just like the picture. As soon as I put a serving spoon in it, the center deflated like a balloon. Not sure what I could do differently, since I have never made a souffle before. I have some high altitude instructions that I pulled off the internet, which are helpful for baking, but it doesn't address souffles. I too love the internet for finding that perfect recipe, though I still use my tried and true cookbooks, with all of my notes written in them. One of my favorites is a handwritten cookbook that one of my sisters made for me, and gave to me at my wedding shower over 20 years ago!


    Bookmark   December 27, 2008 at 9:56PM
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Mom liked to put kale in soup but didn't work with veggies much in the kitchen. She was more of a meat, potatoes, fresh baked bread, & pie gal.

Salsify, salsify, salsify - maybe I just like the word. You've seen the weed, right? Goatsbeard . . .

Chicory is that real pretty weed with the sky-blue flowers . . . oh okay, it is a lot of vegetable plants too. I really don't care about radicchio in my salad . . . toooo bitter. I've grown the witloof variety (leaves are toooo bitter) and made "coffee" from the roots . . . probably could do that with the weed.

I think I could have enjoyed the sorrel in something prepared in the kitchen rather than "grazing" on it in the garden. That word reminds me of the color of a horse. Oh, that's right! Must not have a common origin. There wasn't anything "horsey" that I can think about with sorrel.

Funny how Bonnie talks about the ham and J talks about not-the-ham . . . you 2 might be from different parts of the country. Let's see that would be Tennessee and the "Coast" - right?

Not to start anything, you know. After all, I was from farther out there on the Monterey Peninsula (as an infant) and baked a pear jelly glazed ham for Christmas (which was a little tuff for someone raised a Seventh Day Adventist ;o).

Steve's digits

    Bookmark   December 27, 2008 at 10:43PM
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Hey, that cookbook is at my public library, Windwhipped.

"'My niche is taking what people like to eat and turning it into a soup,' she says." Mmmmm, Tomato Teasers - Championship Chowders - Autumn Flavors - Winter's Brew (what's that, soup made with beer?) Cucumber-Buttermilk Soup !!?!

Don't dare put a hold on the book, tho'. I was supposed to pick up a couple of books by the day before Christmas. I thought about going but one way has a steep hill and the other is a narrow road . . . 7 miles from home, I think it is. I haven't been that far in 2 weeks.

What with the record snowfall, maybe they'll forgive me for not showing up.


    Bookmark   December 27, 2008 at 11:16PM
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highalttransplant(z 5 Western CO)

In the words of Emeril Lagasse ... "Pork fat RULES!!!"

Seriously, I'm not a big meat eater, never have liked steak, but I'd pick ham over turkey any day. Maybe it's the saltiness.

Besides, Digit, my parents were northeners, so I didn't grow up with southern cuisine. My Dad loved Saurkraut and Keilbasa. He also put brown sugar on his sliced tomatoes, though I'm not sure where that idea came from.

Bonnie (who thinks Digit was secretly hoping for a cat fight, LOL)

    Bookmark   December 28, 2008 at 12:25AM
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Oh, my! No cat fights here!! I often feel like the only one who doesn't like ham/pork. Sometimes I can enjoy pork but I never enjoy ham. Just me, I guess. Yep, from the coast!

I don't recall the Pie in the Sky book having a souffle recipe. I think that is one of the common errors, a falling souffle. I have tried on many occasions to make a good souffle and have never, ever, EVER been able to get it right. I've also gotten it very wrong more than once :( I am embarrassed to say that the best souffle I've made was a frozen Stouffer's spinach souffle...!!

When I was younger, I was a vegetarian for many years. We went to gram and gramp's house at least once a week. She often made "vegetarian" meals for us which always consisted of one meat to replace another. "Oh, its vegetarian, I used turkey instead of beef...I used beef instead of pork." I ate it anyway but I still giggle when I think of that.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2008 at 2:34PM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

Jennifer, I LOVE, lovelovelovelovelove Stouffers spinach souffle! I can make a whole meal out of just thatand eat the whole thing. Oh, my, its rich! But its SO good. When theyre on sale I buy a whole bunch of them, and I think the cashiers must think Im nuts sometimes!

Something I used to make (invented, like most of the things I make) was kind of like a soufflebut not as collapsible. I beat up a bunch of eggs with a tiny bit of milk, poured some in a glass breadpan (to cover the bottom), put in a layer of cream cheese and cheddar cheese and topped that with spinach (frozen, squeezed dry), put in more egg, another layer of the cheeses and spinach, poured the last of the egg over the top and topped it with a nice layer of the cheddar. Then I baked itdont remember how hot or how longprobably about 300 and just until the cheese was brown and toasty on top. Yum! Hadnt thought about it in a long time. Might need to make it again. Bet it would work with wilted fresh spinach too.

BTW, if youre gonna grow chard, you really should put in some spinach too. My friend who lives out there grows Bloomsdale Long Standing and says she has really good luck with it. And consider peas, lettuce, radishes, and kohlrabis, they should all work well for you. And I think maybe you could at least try beets and parsnips and carrots since they can be planted as soon as the ground can be worked and since they can stay in until its getting really cold again (I had freezing temps a few times before I finally got them covered with leaves). And they may not get as big as they would somewhere with a longer growing season, but theres no "lower limit" on size for eating the root crops, so however big they get is the size you eat them! And you should be able to grow other cole crops besides the kohlrabis, too. I dont grown any of them, partly because of space, but also because theyre so inclined to get aphids. Maybe that wouldnt be such a problem at a cooler higher altitude. Check out the last page of the chart Ive linked below for more info on planting times for veggies.

Digit, I totally agree with you about radicchio! I dont quite understand why its considered edible! Tried red orach last year, and dont like that eitheror endive! Just dont like bitter! And Ive never even tried some of the less-than-usual veggies youre all talking about above, like salsify, chicory, sorrel, fennel. Actually I have a couple bronze fennels, but Im growing them for the feathery, bronzy ornamental valuenot to eat. (Tho I have one of them growing at the back of the tomato patch, and may be tempted to dig up a root from that one just to check it out!)

And none of that was about SOUPso heres my soup connection!

Bonnie, I made Ham Bone soup last weekso Id have something easy when Im coming and going over the holidaysyet something with "body!" I call it ham BONE soup, cause back right after I got married we were poor (not that Im rich now!) and when I made it, it was made with a bone with virtually no meat left on it! That was the only way we could afford it! Now when I have a ham I save the bonewith LOTS of meat, to make soup. And this time I made it with Anasazi beans. Much better than the great northern or navy beans I used to use. Thats the only way Ill make it from now on. Oh, and since you were talking about parsnips, when I made it I had just gone out to dig some carrots (for the soup), and while I had the leaves pulled back I dug some beets and parsnips too, so when I was making the soup I decided to put in a few parsnips too to see if it workedand theyre great in ham bone soup. They need to be the very last thing put in, because they cook very quickly. I just cut them up pretty small. Ill add more next time.

When it comes to soup, I pretty much stick to the old standbys, chicken noodle, ham bone, and vegetable beef barley. And when I make them, the WAY I make themjust keep adding a "little" bit more of this and that and this and thatI usually wind up with TWO big soup pots full, and freeze most of it in 1-gallon plastic "sherbet" containers so I can get "a gallon" of it out whenever I dont have time for anything else or am just to brain dead to even try to think of something else to make. Its fast, and easy, and always there! And sometimes I make ones that are a little less common for melentil, potato, leek, and a few others. When I was looking up the leek recipes recently I found a parsnip soup recipe that I printed out to try sometimeif sometime ever comes! I have SO many recipes Im gonna have to have them buried with me so I can bring them back next time around!

I dont collect cook books anymore! I had a whole bunch I sold at my garage sale before I moved to this house. I still use my 1962 Better Homes & Gardens looseleaf cookbook that I got right after I got out of high school! Its (needless to say) getting REALLY beat up by now, so I bought a new onebut I dont use it! I like the recipes in the old one better! When it comes to eating, I do believe in moderation, but whats the point of eating it/anything if it doesnt taste good! Besides that I still have thealso very beat up3 x 5 cards my mother wrote her recipes on for me that I use over and over and............ And besides that I just stick to the web! Its so easy to look up a whole bunch of recipes for the same thing, and then pick out the best ingredients from eachto create your own version of whatever it is youre making.

Computers rock,

P.S. Jennifer, Im glad to know I can become a vegetarian just by "switching" meats! That sure makes it easy!

Here is a link that might be useful: Veggie Planting Guide - pdf

    Bookmark   December 28, 2008 at 4:05PM
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Thank you for the list, Skybird!

Yeah, you can also become a vegetarian by eating small amounts of meat rather than large amounts or by cutting the fat off. Or, you can just add lots of veggies to your meat dishes :) !!!

    Bookmark   December 28, 2008 at 7:00PM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

LOL! Funny, Jennifer! I already tend to eat very small quantities of meat (one chicken thigh is 2 to 3 meals!), and very little animal fat, so I guess I'm a VEGETARIAN!


    Bookmark   December 28, 2008 at 9:58PM
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