Today we did a little garden cleanup. We had squash that had long ago succumbed to powdery mildew, carrots that needed pulling, tomato plants that needed pruning, and weeding. Oh, the weeding. We also brought the harvest basket and two small reusable grocery bags, you know, just in case. I’m glad I did. Whoa, boy, we came home with with arms laden. I had to put the beans and dill seeds in my pocket because there was no room anywhere else.
We simmered the edamame, sprinkled them with fancy salt, and ate them right up. yummy! I chopped up the dino kale and collards (some nearly two feet long), blanched ’em, and tossed ’em into the freezer. P picked through the armload of parsley and made a big batch of pesto. And I still had a basket full. Since it’s been so cold, I though soup would be fitting. Only I had one hangup. I couldn’t imagine it being very good. I mean garden veggie soup? That , bland, uninspired, visually unappealing slop that’s served up in restaurants all over the heartland. I’ve never had a garden veggie soup I’ve liked and I couldn’t imagine a different soup that would combine all I had to offer.
Oh, well, the produce wasn’t going to cook itself. The surprisingly clean leeks went into a pan of bacon grease (easiest way to clean it up!), as did the stunning multi-hued dragon carrots and the jimmy nardello peppers. Next I chopped up a purple cherokee tomato that was suffering from blossom-end rot and needed to be used immediately. I sauteed it until the moisture from the tomato was soaked up, then I poured in the boiling water from the collards and kale along with some left over chicken stock. As it simmered I chopped three varieties of potatoes that went in the pot along with three tiny seeded thai hot peppers. By then P has finished the pesto and the Parmesan rind went into the pot, too. The beautiful, vigorous sunburst squash has been inundating us, and those we see often, with boatloads of squash all summer long was taunting me. I’m sick of it and couldn’t imagine eating the last three sitting on the counter. But I chopped those up (very fine, so I would hardly know they’re there) and dumped those in the pot, too. While it was all bubbling away, I attacked the last pile of greens – chard, dino kale, and the deep red beet greens – and put those in at the last minute along with a small handful of leftover parsley. I ground a load of black pepper – more out of habit than anything – and a few shakes of kosher salt and let the heat do it’s magical thing.
I poked around for a can of white beans, thought about throwing in some pasta, contemplated the spice cabinet for anything to perk up what was bound to be a boring lunch. I didn’t have anything I wanted to add, so I went back to the kitchen and stared at the pot. It was a murky red with floating lumps of veggies. It looked just as boring as any I’d ever seen. And then I raised a full spoon to my lips.
OMG. It was amazing. Delicious. So good I had a second dinner. And then I had seconds of my second dinner. Maybe it’s the Parmesan. Maybe it’s the freshness of the veggies. Maybe it’s the varieties that you can’t get in the store. But it was, it is, so. damn. good. I raved so loud and long P had a second dinner, too. It has just enough heat, just enough body, just enough salt, tender but toothsome potatoes, a tangy hint of tomato, greens that have texture but give when pressed, and, just as I’d hoped, squash I barely know is there.
It doesn’t look like much, but it’s exactly what I need – hearty, versitile and delicious – another “everything but the kitchen sink” recipe that will go into heavy rotation.