Monday, December 19, 2016
Nourishing Vegetable Soup
I love vegetable soup. It is immensely comforting and calming. It is so much more than the sum of its ingredients - it is a warming and nourishing hug for the digestion. It is also the thriftiest meal of the week.
How to Make Nourishing Vegetable Soup:
First, persuade someone else to cut up the onion while you wander into the vegetable patch to pick celery leaves (celery is a notoriously difficult vegetable to grow if you want it to look like the celery at the greengrocers. It demands continuous water and nourishment, but never fear, grow it unsuccessfully anyway and cut its wonderfully salty and mineral-rich leaves for all your soups and stews, and buy stems of celery from the greengrocer for your salads..).
Once your onion minion has rushed out of the kitchen to find a handkerchief to stem her tears, it is safe to return and rummage through the vegie bin. I like to use ghee to cook onions, as it has all the goodness and flavour of butter, without butter's annoying tendency to burn. Cook the onions slowly and tenderly while you discover what else there is to throw in the pot. Tonight I found three small wrinkly potatoes, two limp carrots, a small and only very slightly mouldy piece of pumpkin, and half a packet of baby spinach that Rosy-the-spinach-fiend refused to eat, because it was from the farmer's market, and didn't look like supermarket spinach.. of course the secret to vegetable soup is that there is no secret. It is a glorious melding of whatever 'needs eating up'.
I chopped all of this 'seen better days' veg up and popped it on top of the onions along with several cups of vegetable stock and two handfuls of red lentils. Actually, if there is a secret to vegetable soup, it is red lentils. These boil down to an indistinguishable mush and give the soup its thick and hearty rustic nature. It all bubbled away for half an hour and then we ate it. We didn't have any bread, so we had crackers instead. I just had more soup. And there is some for lunch tomorrow. Life is good.
Here is an update on my campaign to avoid the supermarkets - well, turns out, shopping locally requires forward planning. This is not my strong suit. I ALWAYS discover that there is no milk at about half past seven at night when there are no local shops open. That is also the time that Posy remembers she needs a block of chocolate to make truffles for her teachers for Christmas, and the cats realise that they have run out of cat food (those cats really need to get their act together). That is when I sigh deeply and take the dog and slink out to Coles. Again. I have had to do this at least once a week since I swore to avoid the evil supermarkets forever.. However, in the spirit of not letting the perfect be the enemy of the good, I am celebrating the huge, vast majority of our food that is coming from local sources. I am finding new and interesting treasures every week. I am trying to remember that the butcher down the hill opens Wed to Sat, and that the greengrocer stocks milk and is open until 6.30. I discovered that a local company makes the best tortillas I have ever eaten, and that none of us will actually die if there is no milk in the house, because herbal tea is actually a thing. And you never know, I might even learn to plan ahead.