It’s getting to that time of year: our garlic is half rotted, the potatoes are growing legs, there’s only one onion left in the fridge (where we have learned onions last the longest). So, as we slog through the last week before our next market, we’re using up the last of January’s vegetables.
Tonight we had a potato soup with ditalini pasta (the very small round tubes), mushrooms, frozen kale and fresh croutons. We used a variety of blue potatoes that turn a range of soft purples after cooked-and held their shape better than white or yellow potatoes like Fingerlings, German Butterballs, or Yukon golds. In the High Mowing seed catalog the blue potato that keeps its color is called “All Blue.”
Here’s the recipe:
Peel and chop five mid-sized blue potatoes.
Chop two shallots, three large cloves of garlic, and two mushrooms.
Lightly sauté the vegetables in a tablespoon of butter at the bottom of the soup pot.
Add eight cups of water and a few pinches of tarragon.
Bring to a boil and then turn down, add one cube of vegetarian bouillon.
Seasons with black pepper, rosemary, tarragon, and salt.
Meanwhile, make up the pasta. When the pasta is ready and the potatoes have become soft, turn off the heat and throw in as much kale (fresh or frozen) as you would like. Stir until soft and then serve with croutons (and parmesan cheese, if that’s something you like).
To make the croutons we chopped up the bits of stale bread. Heat olive oil, black pepper, salt, and a hint of garlic powder, in a shallow pan. When you can just feel the warmth when you hold your hand over the pan, add the bread and stir constantly until crispy.
This soup also underscores the value of preparation before a winter of seasonal eating. The bags of kale in our freezer help us extend the stored veggies we rely on (e.g. potatoes, onions, garlic). If you can afford the expense and the time, buy a bit extra at the farmers’ market next summer and freeze it right away. Fresh herbs like parsley and dill (although not basil, which turns black) are simple – just chop coarsely and put into freezer bags. Peppers are just as easy. Blanch kale for 3 minutes before freezing to keep the color and flavor intact. Sweet corn also keeps its flavor well, although you have to boil it then cut the kernels off the cob before freezing it. These are just a few of our favorites. Putting Food By is an excellent resource if you’d like to learn more about stocking up before next winter.
The soup was certainly no midsummer fresh tomato and eggplant delight. Sure, I would love to eat tomatoes year round, would love it if every week I had two bunches of fresh parsley, but this is about eating what we have this time of year. And at this time of year, people should be eating potatoes. Here’s what I come back to: this soup is good enough. It was filling, yummy, and made with what we have.