Lately I’ve been reading a new blog: Soulemama. Soulemama and her family are homesteading somewhere in Maine, which is not something I can ever imagine myself doing, but her pictures are so gorgeous I almost wish I could. So many beautiful foods stored away! Check out her tomatoes!
This has had me thinking about putting away my own veggies. I may not have as much here – but then again, I don’t have a root cellar to store it all in either, so that’s ok. This basket is what’s left of last week’s CSA share.
Actually, I think some of the squash and sweet potatoes here are from the week before last. I’ve had trouble using up all these veggies, see. And the greens! Don’t get me started on the greens. I have had so many lovely bunches of greens go limp and have to be thrown away, it really is sad. We were actually considering giving up on the CSA share for next year, because we couldn’t seem to use what we brought home. But then Matt suggested that we turn it all into soup! Brilliant!
Plus, it’s an excuse to use my beloved immersion blender. If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can make this soup with a regular blender, but to be honest, it takes a lot more work, and I’ve never done it that way, so I’d recommend looking up advice online first.
Just for good measure, I also added a few supermarket carrots and onions, which have been surprisingly lacking from the latest CSA boxes. But it’s ok. We just won’t tell them they’re different.
To make this soup, I first cut open the peppers, tossed out the inner bits, and broiled them skin side up on a cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray until they were charred. Like this! Incidentally, if you have some sad little tomatoes you need to use, you can broil them the same way. That way you end up with a roasted tomato flavor instead of a stewed tomato flavor (which I detest).
But getting back to peppers; Two of these peppers were sweet peppers, and two were hot. Since we got them all together in the same box, we were a little concerned about how to tell them apart. So Mike, our CSA farmer at First Light Farm, gave us this little tip.
The sweet peppers, shown on the left, have a rounded, dimpled end. The hot peppers, on the right, have a pointed end! (I really don’t know if this applies to all varieties of peppers, so it’s probably best if you ask your farmer/grocer if you aren’t sure.)
Both varieties started out looking a lot like the sweet peppers (on the left). But then the hot peppers spent the week on top of the fridge, to keep them away from little fingers, while the sweet peppers were refrigerated. Curious how differently they ended up after that week, isn’t it?
But back to the soup…
Chop the onions and cook with a bit of oil until softened. Add chopped leeks.
Remove the tough center stems from the greens. Rinse the leaves (no creepy crawlies in the soup, please!) and add to the pot. Now you need some liquid. I had some turkey broth on hand from earlier in the week, so I used that, but you can use any broth you have available, or even just water.
Cover the pot and let the greens cook down, then add your peeled, chopped squash and carrots. (I know sweet potatoes were pictured above, but I decided part way through this soup that I wanted to save those for a sweet potato pie. I’ve never made that before, so if anyone has a recipe to suggest, let me know!)
Cook until the squash is soft, and toss the peppers (and tomatoes, if you are using those)
Finally, blend it until creamy. This takes very little effort with my immersion blender – just press the button and stir it around for 3-5 minutes. (With a regular blender, you’d have to spoon the veggies from the pot into the blender in batches. Be careful if you try this, and be sure to hold down the top of your blender with a kitchen towel lest the hot soup fly out and cover yourself and your kitchen. At least, that’s the warning I’ve heard. Like I said, I’ve never tried it.)
Finally, I added a large can of (rinsed and drained) black beans. I left those unblended, but I kind of wish I had popped the blender in one more time, because the lumps of bean rather detracted from the soup.
The flavor of this soup was really amazing without adding any seasoning – the two hot peppers gave just the tiniest bit of spice to counteract the generally sweet squash and carrots. I did, however add a couple tablespoons of ground ginger, plus some sea salt and fresh ground pepper.
And then served it with grated cheddar and home made bread. We ate about 5 generous bowls of this soup over a couple of days, and put 2 quarts up in the freezer for later in the winter.
This bread was kind of lackluster next to the soup. I definitely need to find a new bread recipe. Any suggestions?