By Beverly Barbour
End of the garden summer soups
Gardens are running late this year: too much rain, too cold spring, too hot summer - whatever the too is modifying it means that some of our produce hasn't been produced on schedule. On the other hand there are some vegetables that just don't know when to turn it off, call it quits, or just plain turn brown. Zucchini and cucumbers are high on the "just quit" list. Carrots, too, love to hunker down in the nice warm soil and just keep growing fatter.
Soup, on the other hand, is always on schedule. You can bring it to the table any time of year and feed the masses there assembled with a very low cost meal. When the vegetables came from your own garden, the cost is close to nil. That is an added incentive to go out and harvest some of the crop.
If you have run out of ideas on how to dispose of the end of the summer produce some of these soup recipes may inspire you to grab a large pot and cast in a lot of leaves or roots that shouldn't go to waste.
Remember, a soup idea is simply that: an idea. You can add, subtract, mix and match; anything goes in a soup kettle. Just taste your way along and surprise yourself and your family with a tasty bowl of FREE soup.
Don't you love the name? Tell everyone it is beautiful and half of your selling job is done. After the first spoonful the audience will believe you. This sweet and buttery tomato-onion soup stops short of being borscht, it is brighter and more acidic. The orange carrots, red tomatoes and magenta beets join forces to make the soup a beautiful color. Serve with dollops of sour cream or yogurt. Makes 6 servings.
6 tablespoons butter (or half butter and half oil)
Place deep, wide pan over low heat and melt butter. Add onion and garlic; saute until soft but not browned. Increase heat and add beets, carrots, celery, celery root and half of the dill. Keep cooking, stirring rather frequently and adjusting heat as needed, until vegetables have released their liquid, dried and start to turn golden but not brown. This takes about 20 minutes. Add the stock and tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook until vegetables are soft. Add orange zest and juice and remaining dill. Season with salt and pepper.
Carrot Soup with Ginger
This recipe will only take about 15 minutes from your playtime, reading time, working time, wrestling with the kid's time. Instead of carrot juice you can simply puree chunks of carrots with the other ingredients and add texture to your soup. Makes about 4 cups for a light meal or a first course.
2 avocados, firm-ripe
Halve 1 avocado, remove pit and spoon out the meat. Puree this avocado with carrot juice, salt, 4 teaspoons lime juice and 2 teaspoons ginger in a blender until very smooth. Halve remaining avocado, remove pit and cut meat into 1/4-inch dice. Gently toss with remaining teaspoon lime juice, 1/4 teaspoon ginger, curry powder and a pinch of salt. Serve the soup and pass the seasoned avocado dice to be sprinkled on top.
Roasted Red Pepper Soup
To peel the skins from the peppers you can char the skins on a grill or under the broiler as this recipe suggests and then put them in a bag to steam. Or, you do as my friend Tina Ensign (who is a whiz in the kitchen) does and bake them in a paper bag at about 350 F. The steam in the bag makes them very easy to peel, says Tina. Makes about 4 servings.
2 red bell peppers (about 1 pound)
Wash the peppers and cut in half lengthwise. Remove stems, seeds and veins; discard. Lay peppers cut sides down in a pan and broil until skins are blackened all over, about 12 minutes. Slip peppers immediately into a brown paper bag and let them steam. When cool enough to handle, pull off and discard skins; chop peppers. Over medium-high heat, stir onion in butter until limp and then stir in peppers and carrots. Add flour and stir about 1 minute to get rid of any lumps. Add broth, half-and-half and tomato sauce. Stir in hot chili flakes, salt and pepper. Serve with a touch of guacamole in the center of the soup bowl or on the side with guacamole and chips.
Playing in a soup pot can be a lot of fun.